jack + ella paper

September 2018 Menu Planning Challenge...join us!

jessica batesComment

It's the perfect time of the year to implement routines to make your life easier. In my household, if menu planning is done on the weekend and the kitchen is stocked for the week, my life runs smoother. It's not always an easy task, but if you follow some of these tips, it can actually be something you look forward to and will (hopefully) become a habit.

Beginning Tuesday, September 4th, we're starting a challenge to help you get started. The goal is to plan at least 4 meals a week (however, starting small and aiming for a couple per week is a start!). I will be posting recipe ideas each week via Instagram + Facebook and if you have some good family favorites...please share them in the comments! If you post anything yourself, use #jepmealplanning so others can find inspo.

I will also be adding my weekly meal ideas to a new Pinterest board 'September 2018 Menu Planning Challenge', however I have some other good recipe boards on there as well.

My steps to easy (and almost fun) menu planning:

1) I set aside some time each week (for me, it's typically on the weekend) to jot down recipe ideas. I wouldn't recommend aiming for several new recipes per week...maybe one or two new ones added into your regular rotation of meals. Start on Pinterest or any other online recipe source for recipes &/or inspiration. The reason I'm drawn to Pinterest is that it starts to present you with pins that are similar in nature to what you've pinned so it knows what you like and helps find you more recipes that are in line with your tastes.

I have some ideas for other sources of inspiration in my Meal Planning 101 post.

Also, try to do this while you're hungry...it's a much more pleasant task.

 When I have the time, I tend to shop at several stores (favorites are Costco, Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Aldi).

When I have the time, I tend to shop at several stores (favorites are Costco, Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Aldi).

2) Grocery shop...with a list! Sounds elementary, but how many times have you gone without one? You'll be back to the store countless times to get all that you'll need that week. While menu planning create the list of what you'll be needing...and of course check your kitchen for all the things you didn't realize you already have! It's sometimes a good idea to actually start your menu planning in your kitchen to utilize what you have on hand. Search recipes with those ingredients.

I like to hang my grocery list up in the kitchen so that throughout the week, everyone can jot down things that we run out of or any special requests.

3) Utilize that crockpot/slow cooker! Once you get in the menu planning groove, you'll start looking at your calendar to see what nights a slow cooker recipe would be really helpful. When practices and late meetings are scheduled, you'll have a meal waiting for you.

Menu planning needs no special tools, but if you like a pretty list, now is the time to grab one...they are all on sale for the the start of the challenge! You can go for the notepad version or an immediate download version.

meal planning 101

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 cookbooks...always a good source for inspo. I don't love to keep many on hand (only my favorites!). Don't forget about the library.

cookbooks...always a good source for inspo. I don't love to keep many on hand (only my favorites!). Don't forget about the library.

Meal planning is one of those things that seems simple enough (and truly can be) but actually implementing it can often be a struggle. There are a few tools + tricks that I use to help with the process and I'm passing them on to you so your home-chef-mom-life can be just a wee bit easier.

The first rule of thumb is to not attempt to do a full week at a time, starting out. Adding perfectionism to your meal planning can make you give it up for good. Often times if you just aim to have 3 meals planned for the week (and get the groceries in the house for those 3 meals!) your life will be so much easier. Too often, busy families are not all home at the same time and there are weeknight obligations that pull you away from a family meal, so aiming for 3 is a realistic goal.

Second rule of thumb is to not try to create 7 new recipes in a week. This is a sure fire way to give up on this whole process real quickly. always have some family favorites in the mix and throw in a new recipe each week, if you're up for it.

A tip that I find really beneficial is finding a time weekly to sit down and do your planning and if possible do it while you have a good appetite. That one factor can make this be an almost enjoyable activity rather than a dreaded task. Personally I do this on the weekend and actually look forward to it.

Having a hard time coming up with ideas each week? Try themes. For example, Meatless Monday and Taco Tuesday, so you when you're searching for recipes, you have it narrowed down a bit.

Sources for dinner ideas are so plentiful these days. My favorite places to seek inspo are:

  • Food bloggers all over Instagram. (If you're new here, jump over to @jackandellapaper on Instagram as I share my weekly menus in hopes of inspiring some new dinner ideas for you.)

  • Pinterest. I create specific boards just for this purpose. (see my Mexican-inspired-eats Board here.)

  • Actual restaurant menus. While this is a little unconventional, it's a great way to change up your dinner routine. Google your favorite restaurants, pull up their menu and Google the title of the dish. More than likely you'll find plenty of similar recipes available.

 pinterest boards are a great storage space for those recipes you want to try out on your next menu.

pinterest boards are a great storage space for those recipes you want to try out on your next menu.

 Instagram has a feature where you can save + categorize posts...perfect for storing recipe ideas.

Instagram has a feature where you can save + categorize posts...perfect for storing recipe ideas.

As mentioned above, having the groceries for the meals is equally important. Nowadays, we are so fortunate to have services like Instacart and AmazonFresh available. Setting these up can take a little legwork, but once you have your regular grocery + household items plugged in, it's basically like magic.

Of course it never hurts to have a pretty pad of paper to write your menu on. If you like to keep things simple and just plan dinners, the grocery list pad is perfect for that. If you like to plan all.the.meals. the menu planner with tear-off market list will be your go-to. It's been recently updated to all 7 days of the week, per your requests :) Also available are the printable download versions so you can start right now!

 

 the motherlode has all the tools you need plus some.

the motherlode has all the tools you need plus some.

new site, new look + new stuff...yay!

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welcome to the fresh + new home of jack + ella paper!

This new website has been in the works for a long time. When you're running the show solo (for the most part), customers come first, obtaining more customers comes second and the other stuff (aka building a new website) come last. While it has taken a long time to complete, I'm so proud for sticking with it and getting it exactly how I envisioned it.

  • to provide a clean + simple platform to find products easily

  • offer a gift section to make gift giving easy + fun

  • have a space to offer helpful PDF downloads (both the free + paid versions)

  • replace the typical 'blog' with a 'news feed' to share new products + info without the 'I'm-not-blogging-enough-guilt'

  • offer a more streamlined wholesale portal with online catalog viewing 

  • create a brand refresh that reflects the fun + practical products we carry

so please look around and let us know what you think. we would love to have any feedback you may have for us, both the good + the bad :)

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