sANITY SAVING habits FOR A MORE PRODUCTIVE, LESS STRESsFUL WEEK
The worst feeling is your feet hitting the ground Monday morning to the sound of kids yelling for breakfast and already feeling like you’re ten steps behind for the week. I can’t tell you how many weeks I’ve started off feeling I’m already behind the 8 ball before I even got out of bed.
In the last few months, I’ve learned that having an intentional, productive, fulfilling week actually doesn’t start on Monday morning, it starts the weekend before. Sunday is a day of rest and family time in our house, but it is also a day of preparation for the week ahead. The key to living intentionally is planning ahead.
We have been focusing as a family on building some habits that will make our weeks easier instead of feeling like we are constantly scrambling. It took a while to really get the hang of these but once I saw how it improved our family’s quality of life throughout the week then it made sticking to these new habits easier.
If you want to have a less stressful, more intentional week build these weekend habits:
1. Meal Plan
The worst feeling is getting to 4pm on a Tuesday and everyone in the house starts screaming that they’re hungry and you have no idea what you’re making for dinner. That mad dash dinner rush is super stressful, especially when you have one spouse who frequently works till past bedtime and it’s a single parent household for most nights for dinner. Meal planning, even if it’s just a loose plan, has helped resolve alot of the last minute scrambles for dinner.
I usually meal plan on Saturdays actually. Just pick whichever weekend day works out best for your family and schedule. I sit down with my meal planning worksheet and map out all of the ingredients I know that we still have in our fridge to use up.
Then I take a look at our family calendar for the week and take note of which nights Chris is working late or we have an evening activity planned. I make sure that for those nights I have already made a meal ahead of time to pack and send with Chris to the studio or if we have an evening activity planned I make sure dinner is a quick and easy meal.
My meal planning really depends on what we have going on that week and what season of the year we are in. I plan my meals around how I’m going to meal prep (more on that in a minute)
Meal planning helps us to save time during the week, takes the stress out of dinner each night and also helps us stick to our grocery budget.
Looking for a meal plan template?
2. Grocery shop
After I have my meal plan set for the week I tackle grocery shopping. I usually try to go early on Saturday mornings to beat the crowds. I don’t know about you but I get some major shopping cart road rage when there’s tons of people standing and socializing in the aisles on Saturday afternoons.
From my meal plan I make a grocery list. I make sure to take note of what I already have on hand at my house so I’m not double buying things. I then make a detailed grocery list and I check off as I go. I also try to take advantage of manager’s specials/markdowns/sales. So if, for example, I had planned on making sirloin steak with baked potatoes and salad one night for dinner and as I was shopping I noticed that there is a london broil on manager’s special and red potatoes on markdown I will then alter my plan just a bit to accomodate the sale items.
If I happen to stumble upon some sales/deals that aren’t on my list at all or can’t be swapped out for something else on my list (for example I see pork chops on manager’s special but I haven’t planned for pork chops that week) I buy the sale item only if it can be used during a later time in the month.
So if I see marked down meat I grab it because it can go in the freezer and be used for next week’s meal plan. Or if I see a boxed good in the clearance scratch and dent section I grab it to use for a meal next week.
I always try to shop the sales when possible but I also stick to my grocery list so that I don’t make impulse purchases and go way over budget.
My favorite app to keep track of my grocery list and check off as I go is Anylist. It’s free and it even has the option to share your grocery list with other family member’s so you can make a list and then send someone else to the store.
3. meal prep
I have 2 different meal planning strategies depending on which season we are in. In the spring and summer we do alot of grilling in our house. We usually take one day out of every weekend to meal prep. We grill or smoke a ton of meat for the week and then I just reheat for dinner each night of the week. Then I am only responsible for making a side each night.
In the fall and winter I really utilize my Instant Pot. We tend to do alot of one pot dinners so on Sundays I will chop any veggies I need for recipes for the week, slice any meat that I need and then I prep meals into one gallon zip loc bags and label them with contents and instructions. So for example, on Tuesday night I have a chicken curry planned. I put most of the ingredients, veggies, meat and seasoning, in the zip loc bag. On Tuesday I just dump the bag into the Instant Pot and add final ingredients like a can of coconut milk. Then I can just press go, walk away and come back to a delicious dinner.
I try to make my weeknights as easy as possible so the more things I can prep or pre-cook on the weekends the better. My method for meal prep might not work for every family so play around with what works best for you and your schedule.
4. clean kitchen before bed
Is there anything more stressful than waking up on a Monday morning and coming out of your room to a kitchen full of dirty dishes and things sitting out on the counter? I feel like I am already starting my day behind when I am making my morning coffee and trying to clean up the kitchen at the same time.
There’s something to be said for tidy space, tidy mind. When your physical space is cluttered so is your mind, sometimes unknowingly, with all of the tiny to-dos that cluttered space presents.
Take one more thing off your Monday morning mental load and clean your kitchen before you go to bed on Sunday night. I know it may seem like a small thing but just waking up to a sparkling kitchen, an empty sink and clean counters is one more thing off your mental to-do list for the day. You can pour yourself that first cup of coffee and know that you have a few minutes to actually enjoy that coffee rather than running around trying to clean everything.
The most important thing you can do during the weekends is to relax. Yes, get all the important habits I just listed done. But also make sure that you leave space for relaxation and time to reconnect with those around you. Your weeks are often full of activities, work, after-school commitments, and stress. You can’t run at a breakneck pace constantly or you will burn out.
So all of the habits I just listed will make your week a little easier. Food and food prep is such a big part of the week and it helps to get that off your plate for weekdays. But none of that means anything if you already enter the week more stressed out by your weekend.
Give yourself that break that you deserve. It’s not laziness, it’s self-care. Do whatever looks like rest to you. Go to church. Go to lunch with girlfriends. Play with the kids in the backyard. Read a book on the back patio. Watch an episode of your favorite show. Whatever the thing is for you, do it. You need that time to unwind and take a breather before Monday starts again.