Episode 097: How to Make Meal Times Easier

Episode Transcription


If you're tired of the "what's for dinner?" stress or find yourself ordering takeout way too often, this episode is for you! 

Diana explains how to create meal bins for your fridge and pantry, making it easy to grab everything you need for a delicious, home-cooked meal. 

She also shares tips for prepping ahead of time and how to make the system work for your family's unique needs.

Key Takeaways:

  • What are meal bins? Designated containers (think plastic shoebox size) in your fridge and pantry that hold all the ingredients for a specific meal.
  • Benefits: Reduces mealtime stress, makes cooking more enjoyable, saves time, and helps you eat healthier.
  • How to create meal bins: You can prep ingredients ahead of time and include printed recipes in the bins for added convenience.

What can you expect from this podcast and future episodes?

  • 15-20 minute episodes to help you tackle your to-do list
  • How to declutter in an effective and efficient way
  • Guest interviews
  • Deep dives on specific topics 

Find Diana Rene on social media:
Instagram: @the.decluttered.mom
Facebook: @the.decluttered.com
Pinterest: @DianaRene

Are you ready for a peaceful and clutter-free home? Watch my FREE training video “Kiss Clutter Goodbye” to learn how it’s possible! And find all of my resources here.

This transcription was automatically generated. Please excuse grammar errors. 

 Diana Rene: 0:07

You're listening to The Decluttered Mom podcast, a podcast built specifically for busy moms by a busy mom. I'm your host, Diana Rene, and in 2017, I had my second daughter and it felt like I was literally drowning in my home okay, not literally, but literally, but I felt like I couldn't breathe with all of the stuff surrounding me. Over the next 10 months, I got rid of approximately 70% of our household belongings and I have never looked back. I kind of feel like I hacked the mom system and I'm here to share all the tips, tricks and encouragement. Let's listen to today's show. Welcome to another episode of The Decluttered Mom Podcast.

Diana Rene: 0:54

Today, I wanted to share a tip that is something that I used to do, and I didn't for a long time because it wasn't really working in a different season for our family, but now it's starting to work again in this season of our family, and so I wanted to share what this tip is and how it can really help you. It's going to sound very, very simple. Maybe you've done it before, or maybe you're going to be like me when I first heard about this gosh almost 10 years ago now, at a mom's group that I went to when my oldest was a baby, and the first time I heard it I was like wow, that, like why didn't I think of that? And so maybe that's you. Um, wherever you are in that spectrum, I hope today is helpful for you as we just figure out this really simple system that you can implement in your home like immediately, and that system is to have meal bins in your fridge and in your pantry, and what I mean by that is just to have simple containers. What I used to use was just those oh gosh, I'm going to blank on the name is just like the plastic containers that look like shoe boxes, like they're about the size of a shoe box. They're plastic. At Target they used to be $1. I'm sure they are not $1 anymore, but those are what I used to use. Now I use containers that I have from the container store that are similar in size, a tiny bit bigger, and they are a tiny bit taller, which is helpful for me. So what I use these bins for is when I meal plan for the week, I put everything for each meal into one bin. So instead of just putting all of the groceries into the fridge, all of the groceries into the pantry, I have meal bins in both the fridge and the pantry and each meal.

Diana Rene: 3:03

I don't do days of the week because I don't pre-plan what days are going to have which meals. It's not like Monday lasagna, tuesday tacos, wednesday you know what I mean, because I have ADHD and I will plan something for a specific day and then that day comes and I either it doesn't sound good or I don't have the capacity for it that day. So like maybe Wednesday is a much more in-depth meal where it's a lot more. It just takes more time to cook that meal. And maybe Wednesday rolls around and the night before I was up all night because my kids woke me up and I had a stressful day with work and all of these things that add up to me not wanting to cook that night. And so several years ago I stopped doing that where I assign a meal to a day. Instead I just have the meals for the week and I have a list and I can kind of look at that list and that day decide which one I'm going to do. So instead of having a day, which, if you are someone who likes to plan the day, then you could just put the day on the bin. For me I just have label, like I have a thing on the bin where I can use dry erase markers so I can write on it, and then at the end of the week I can just wipe it off and do it again. So I just put the name of the meal on the bin and then I put everything I need that's in the refrigerator for that specific meal into that specific bin. Then we go to the next day or not the next day, but the next meal and so the next meal is lasagna. So I take everything from the fridge that I need for lasagna and I put it in that bin, and then the same thing in the pantry.

Diana Rene: 4:51

You could do this two ways. You could just put the pantry food in with the fridge food, but for me I felt like there were more times than not. The bin got too overflowed then and then that kind of defeated the purpose. And I've had the space. So that's the other thing is in the pantry. I have the space to be able to have the meal bins, but if you don't, then you may want to just combine them into one bin in the fridge. But if you do have the space, then you may want to just combine them into one bin in the fridge. But if you do have the space, I think it is easier to have the separate bins.

Diana Rene: 5:22

So then in the pantry I have the same bins for the meals and then I just put the pantry items in there. So then when it's time to make the meal I just grab both bins, put them on the counter and everything I need to cook is right there. And it helps me because then I don't forget ingredients, because when I'm putting them in the bins I have the recipe, I have every. So I just mentally check it off as I go through the recipe and sometimes it reminds me and it's like oh shoot, I did not get garlic for this recipe, so I have to make sure that I order that right now, otherwise I will forget and I put it, get it in the bin. But it just helps me to have everything in one place. It makes me much more likely to cook because, again, I have ADHD, executive functioning it's hard for me to start tasks a lot of the time, incomplete tasks, that's another story. And so if I know I have to cook and I hate cooking which is me I don't like cooking knowing that I have to walk into the kitchen and start cooking.

Diana Rene: 6:34

The idea of like trying to find everything and like looking up the recipe and making sure I have everything then and pulling it all out and looking for it, like that creates another obstacle for me, instead of just walking to the kitchen and grabbing the bin from the pantry, grabbing the bin from the fridge, putting it on the counter and being able to start Now. If you want to go like extra, extra homework, extra credit, then what you could also do is pre-prepare those things. So like if Monday night dinner is a soup and you have to chop onions and you have to chop carrots and you have to chop celery, then maybe on the weekend you have already washed and chopped those and put them in a container and put them into that bin. When I do that, I am so happy with myself. I'm like thank you, thank you, thank you old Diana, who last weekend had the energy and the thought to pre-chop this, because I don't want to chop this right now and it just makes dinner time so much easier.

Diana Rene: 7:44

So that is an extra step you can take. There are some weeks I do that and there are some weeks I don't, and that's okay. It's just based on my energy level, which, if you listen to an earlier podcast of mine, put it in the show notes here. But I have different energy levels and different energy level lists that I have and this absolutely goes on that energy level list of if I have extra energy, then I am pre-preparing different aspects of the meal bins throughout the week so that I can have it ready, and it just makes it so much easier. So one last thing that you can do is if you are someone who just really struggles with getting going with cooking is you can also print the recipe and put it in the meal bin with it, so that way it's ready to go. You don't have to look it up on your phone, you don't have to get distracted by your phone. It's just everything is there ready for you to jump in and just get started.

Diana Rene: 8:44

So this is hopefully helpful for you. I am curious. Let me know in Instagram DMs. Let me know if this is something that is like a brand new idea to you or if it's something that you've never heard of before. This was just something that was like I said.

Diana Rene: 9:01

I heard it at a mom group and it was shared at like just a table I was sitting with when we were talking about just like things that make our lives easier, and I wish I remember who it was that told I don't.

Diana Rene: 9:11

It wasn't someone I knew really well, but I would give her a million hugs if I could at this point because it has just helped me honestly, order, take out less in my life, because it just helps me get over that hurdle of like just starting and having everything there just makes it easier and makes it just a less stressful or annoying experience altogether. So I hope this was helpful and we will see you next week on the Decluttered Mom podcast. Thanks for hanging out and listening to the Decluttered Mom podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world if you could write a review or share this episode with a friend or your Instagram stories. And if you're on Instagram, be sure to follow me at thedeclutteredmom and send me a DM to say hi. I'd love to hear what you thought about today's episode. I hope you'll come back next week and hang out with us again.