Editor's note: Kendra is blogging about being a mom trying to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic at My Rebound by FOX 17. She is married with four kids: a 1-year-old daughter, 2-year-old son, 5-year-old son, 10-year-old daughter and 16-year-old bonus son. She is also the owner and lead fitness coach of Allegro Coaching in Grand Rapids, which she founded in 2009. She lives in Tallmadge Township.
I’ve been teaching meal planning and nutrition workshops for years. “If you want to eat healthy, you have to plan it out,” I would always preach. Winging it is not an option.
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But here we are, coming out of a quarantine with limited funds and planning could not be more essential. What FELT like meal planning before is nothing to what it feels like today.
Prior to the stay-at-home order, I’d find myself headed to the grocery store at least 2-3 times per week. And let’s be honest, half the time was to simply walk up and down the aisles, peacefully, without any kids or temper tantrums. (I know, my life is super exciting these days when I get excited to run to Meijer for peace and quiet ... but you can relate, right?!)
Now, I shop once a week to maintain social distancing. I feed six mouths a day, some days seven, when my bonus son comes to visit. And my husband and I are both small business owners: Matt working in construction and myself still unable to open my fitness facility in Eastown.
We have had to cut our grocery bill down significantly. Yes, we still need to budget for things like diapers, toiletries and fresh produce. I keep a list on my fridge at all times. Random thoughts or meal ideas happen at the strangest times, so I just write it down. And because I have a budget to stick to, it’s kind of become this game to see how much I can stretch my dollar and still have some leftover.
We are eating less meat, stocking up on produce that is in season (watermelon, asparagus, tomatoes, cantaloupe) and re-using foods throughout the week. I’ve also established a few rules around here. First, if you complain about a meal, you owe me $5. Second, you eat what I eat. If you are hungry enough, you WILL eat it. Tough love, I know, but I don’t have time for chicken nuggets and whining.
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So, I’m here to empower other mamas with the overwhelming task of meal planning. It’s not glamorous, but it IS essential. Most of us eat the same 10-15 meals during the season, so make a list on your fridge. Try just one NEW meal a week and then keep it simple. Aim for one fruit and one vegetable per meal, and I’m telling you what….you are CRUSHING it as a mama!
Here are some of our go-to meals that are healthy and affordable (less than $15 for a meal of six):
Stir-fry night (add frozen or fresh veggies plus 1 lean protein (chicken, shrimp, beef))