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The Meal Planner Legacy

Growing up I saw the two-week template meal planner every day posted on our fridge. My mom, lovingly called Momma K by my husband, has used that tool since I was born to ensure she had a plan for the week, a way to save money and know what she had on hand in the house. I bet you didn't know that an 8.5" x11" magnetic meal planner could do all that?

When I think of being the ultimate mom, climbing the mountain of "Super Mom-ness," I think of being like Momma K. When my brother was born, the first of three children, mom and dad didn't have a lot. Dad worked as a maintenance man at Marina City in Chicago and mom stayed home. They struggled to make ends meet and she knew quickly that they'd need a way to track what they had to feed their small family. Nine years later when a surprise third child came into their lives, Momma K decided she'd create her own way to live well on a pastor's salary.

In comes the first version of the meal planner. Mom says it changed a little those first few years, but quickly turned into what our two-week template looks like today. She would use the back of scrap paper and make the template. She'd use the first week to show us what we'd be eating each night and the second week to plan ahead and prepare her grocery list adding needs until shopping day Mom outlined it like the grocery store to save time while shopping with three kids, and save money by avoiding aisles she didn't need to pass through.

She taught my siblings and I with the meal planner. When we were old enough to help with the cooking, it became one of our jobs when she worked late. We could plan on our homework or work schedule since we knew what we'd be cooking. Eventually, we'd even use it to put who was working in the evenings on there as well. It planned much of our lives as well as our menu for the week.

I remember shopping with her as a child, crossing things off the list, and when I begged for something extra she would lovingly say no and show me it wasn't on the list. (I should have adopted that a long time ago with my kids. It may have prevented a few fits!) The reality was, we lived on a tight budget and mom had to say no much more than she said yes, but I was learning the value of money and budgeting. I can appreciate those times she said no as and adult.

I can only hope to aspire to be so organized as Momma K. Being like her is one of the mountains I am working to climb. I decided to start by using and sharing the meal planner that has organized our family for so many years. My daughter is already reminding me, "put it on the list mommy," when we run out of something. We've also been saving by eating out a lot less since starting to use it.

I talked to Momma K just this morning about writing this post and she told me now that it is just she and dad they have a lot of leftovers. She uses the planner to show what is in her pantry or freezer so they don't waste anything. Empty nesters, singles and families can all use this to make life a little easier.

I hope I can continue the legacy of the meal planner with my kids. Teaching them to budget while using the grocery list organized like the store, helping them learn to cook, going over healthy choices as we plan for the week, and watching as they grow to appreciate these lessons someday. If you have kids at home, join me in using 52 simple tear-off pages to teach life lessons to them. Maybe it is just you and planning so you can save money and time will bring some peace into your week. Either way, I promise it is not something you'll regret.

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