The Plan to Eat Podcast

#26: Anchoring Your Meal Plan with Amylee Udell of The Productive Mama

August 03, 2022 Plan to Eat Season 1 Episode 26
The Plan to Eat Podcast
#26: Anchoring Your Meal Plan with Amylee Udell of The Productive Mama
Show Notes Transcript

Learn how to "anchor" your meal planning in this episode! We learned so much from Amylee about the different ways to meal plan and what can serve as your anchor. Amylee blogs as The Productive Mama, where she seeks to help moms balance their busy lives, by providing tools and strategies for saving and earning money, parenting, staying organized and mostly by helping provide nourishing food without driving anyone crazy.
We hope you enjoy this episode and learn as much as we did!

Connect with Amylee:
Her website
Top Ten Foods All Organized Moms Keep in their Freezer

Read about Amylee's accident and how her Freezer meal club helped her family during recovery:

Use code PTEPOD to get 20% off Amylee's Freezer Meal Club Course:

Amylee's Fiesta Bean Mix Recipe:

Read about the Staples List here:

Connect with all the PTE Podcast recipes here
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I'm Riley and I'm Roni. And this is the plan to eat podcast, where we have conversations about meal planning, food, and wellness. To help you answer the question what's for dinner.

Roni: Hello, welcome to another episode of the Plan to Eat podcast.

Today, we are sharing an interview that we got to do with Amylee Udell. She is known as that productive mama. She has a blog where she shares about seeking balance for her busy life and using tools and strategies to save money, uh, help people with parenting advice and most importantly meal planning.

Riley: loved our conversation with her today. Shares a lot of unique tips for meal planning. I learned a lot and I hope that you guys get a lot out of it too, because it's definitely a unique perspective. And just real life tips for meal planning, in whatever circumstance you might have.

Roni: Yeah, she has a really unique perspective on meal planning and how she can help people. [00:01:00] Uh, all different we're at whatever stage you're at in meal planning, I feel like her advice could be really helpful. So I really appreciated her advice and like Riley, I learned a lot about it too. Uh, we did wanna let you know that there's a little bit of technical difficulties every once in a while.

Um, so if those aren't completely cleared up, just know that we did, we tried our hardest to make it as seamless as possible.

Riley: Enjoy the episode guys.

Roni: Hi, Amylee thank you for joining us

Amylee: Oh is, I was gonna say pleasure, but my honor to be here because I love plan to eat so much. So even my husband, when he said, what are you doing tomorrow? And I said, oh, I'm gonna do this podcast. Let's plan to eat. He said, oh, even he knows.

Riley: Oh, that's awesome. Well, we're really honored you here too. Um, and so we just are excited to chat with you. We love talking to real Plan to Eat customers, but, um, more than that, you are a productivity expert. So we would just love to hear more about you. Can you tell us like your bio and what you do?

Amylee: Yeah. [00:02:00] So, um, I always just say I I'm a mom. Uh, that's my primary gig. Um, so I have three girls and, they're kind of, they're beginning to launch, so, I only have one or two at home right now, uh, depending on the day and what's going on. But over the years I've done a lot of different things, which kind of led me into the blogging world because I was already sort of doing that anyway with newsletters and classes and things like that.

So that was sort of a natural jump for me when the time in my life required something with a lot of flexibility. Uh, I was still homeschooling, and. Sort of how to get different things done, especially in the realm of feeding your family was something people were always coming to me for. So, I just adopted the name, productive mama.

But my, a big part of my focus is, being productive in the kitchen because, you know, there's a strong desire out there to, uh, feed your family. Well, but not many people wanna. Spend [00:03:00] all day long accomplishing that. So that's, that's kind of my, my main goal. I talk about lots of other things, too, whatever, uh, strikes me at the moment, but, but that's in general who I am productive mama.

Roni: That's great. So is that mostly a blog or do you do any other kinds of things on the internet?

Amylee: On the inter I mean, I have a few, I'm not like a video expert or anything. I do some, some videos, but mostly, uh, a blog. I have some courses that I do and I don't do as much anymore, but I used to do a lot of in-person classes for things like sourdough bread and fermenting. And, uh, I used to do that, a lot more, but mostly, mostly Blogg.

Roni: Interesting. So how does something like sourdough bread or fermenting play into being productive? Cuz those are things that I associate with taking like a little longer. Time

Amylee: Yeah, that's, that is a good point. So, um, like I kind of mentioned earlier, people [00:04:00] want to do these things, and they think, oh, you know, it's, um, I don't have time to do that. Or, you know, it's cheaper to go buy it or whatever. And so I talk a lot about, first of all, sort of doing that assessment, if you have.

A source of good quality bread or, you know, real fermented food. it may very well be more. Worthwhile to you to buy it depending on where you are in your life and, your income, your job, where your kids are, stuff like that. But I also try to point out to people that, you know, making sourdough bread, especially the way I do it.

uh, I call it, what do I, I think I call it like the world's easiest, no need bread. I try to point out that really the things like that, that take time fermenting, and sourdough, the time is just waiting. It's waiting for the fermentation to happen. So if you can sort of streamline, uh, everything else in the process, it really doesn't have to take that much time.

So I have this, I think I call it, I, I should know this, but like mess free, no need bread. You know, I don't even get my [00:05:00] hand dirty. I don't even touch the, the dough. So there's not that much clean up. I try to make all those parts of it fast. And then you just have to let it sit so same with, um, making kimchi, You know, streamline all the other parts and then you can just let time do the work for you.

Riley: It's just certainly more productive if you're letting somebody else do the work for you or, you know, not somebody, but time, time doing the work for you. Yeah.

Amylee: Time or somebody again, if that is, is getting your kids to do that stuff. Like you don't have to do everything in your house. You know, your kids should be learning and need to be learning a lot of these skills. So also having your kids do that, that's a productive use of your time is teaching them how to cook. So you don't have to do it all the time. Yeah.

Roni: Yeah, that's a really good point. I like that.

Riley: So, let's see, let's talk about productive meal planning with plan to eat. Um, what, what does your process look like? Do you teach other people how to

Amylee: Um, I don't really teach it with plan to eat, except that I mention it a lot. So, , I, I have a, um, [00:06:00] Uh, a pantry challenge that I do every single year. And so I kind of go step by step here. So how to do pantry challenge, and then I'll say, okay, and now here's where you do this step and Hey, plan to eat.

A fantastic way to streamline that you can do it yourself, but there's also a way to do it with plan eat. So I'm always mentioning it, um, when I'm talking about how I do other things. So, I think, uh, the most productive way to meal plan with plan to eat is going to be different for every family and every age and stage of life.

So what I call, call it is finding your anchor. So something anchors your meal planning. And that can be, uh, a variety of things. And for me, it's been several things over the course of years. So, um, I'll touch on a few of those. So if you it's coming up to be CSA season, community supported agriculture, or maybe you get a produce box, um, delivered to you or something like that.

Uh, especially if you're not sure what's going to be [00:07:00] in it every week. Then you might, your anchor might be that box. So you get your box and you see what's in it. And then you might build your menu for the following week based on that. So, and maybe you get it every two weeks, whatever the case may be.

So I go, I get my box and I say, oh, you know, carrots, lots and lots of carrots. And that's the thing with CSAs. And if you really support, uh, your local farmers is. , you know, it's, you're gonna have a ton of stuff at one time, uh, or you'll have like random things, you know? So it's like, oh, I have three peppers.

And some cucumbers, what am I gonna do with that? If you have any sort of grocery delivery like that, then that might be what anchors your menu planning. And so you look in it, you see, and, uh, what's great with, plan to eat is you can search by those ingredients. You can add them to your pantry, you, you can tag things.

Um, so a lot of times in the summer I have, recipes that I've tagged summer, you know, so either it's because it. [00:08:00] Really hot out and I just don't wanna cook or those summer ingredients, uh, that I know are plentiful. Um, so that's one thing that can anchor. Your menu planning. I'm also, uh, a really big proponent and talk a lot and promote freezer meal clubs.

So I have a club of, um, other moms that I get together with every month and I bring a bunch of freezer meals and they bring their freezer meals and then we all trade. And I have, it's like Christmas. I love it. It's, one of my favorite days of the month. And I come home and now I have.

Depending on how many people do it, eight, 10 freezer meals. And so I then write those down. I actually write them directly on my freezer. And then I plug them into plan to eat. And then I build around that. So I look at my calendar and I say, okay, well, you know, everybody's, schedule's different, but we've got cheer practice on, you know, these nights.

So. I wanna use a freezer meal [00:09:00] or, you know, I'm gonna be gone all day with appointments on this day. I wanna use a freezer meal and then I build the rest of my, uh, menu around that. And if you, maybe you don't have a freezer meal club, but you do freezer meals plan to eat has that great freezer feature too. So if you make, you know, seven.

Chicken cacciatore or whatever it is, you make those, and you put them in that little freezer section of plan to eat and you can drag and drop, uh, as you're doing your planning too. So either a freezer meal club or your freezer meals might be something that you anchor your menu planning with. A lot of people build their shopping and their menus around what's on sale. so that's, um, a fantastic way to anchor. Uh, your menu planning, when you're on a budget. So that can look a lot of different ways that can either be sale flyers, or you go to the store and see what's on sale or whatever the case may be. But then, you know, oh, I have these ingredients and now I'm going to [00:10:00] build my menu plan, uh, around that for the, to maximize, you know, my grocery budget savings, which everybody's trying to do right now.

Right. Um, with all these prices going up.

Riley: Absolutely.

Amylee: Yeah. And then, so similar, another way to really say, some people might call like backwards mini planning or doing a pantry challenge, which I mentioned earlier, and you can see what do I already have in my pantry.

So if you've already done the shopping and you've let it sort of auto populate that. You can just use up what you have. So you, I call it going, shopping in your own house, and not spending any money. So that's great. But sometimes I just know, oh, I've got a bag of beans.

That I need to go ahead and eat up. So now I'm gonna look for those bean recipes and, you know, maybe I don't want beans every single day of the week, but maybe I'll find, you know, one or two bean recipes for the next few weeks. And that will anchor my, uh, menu planning, previously for many years, uh, I.

Basically anchored all my menu planning around [00:11:00] payday because we got paid once a month, we were on a super tight budget. So, you know, a lot of times at the end of the month, it was gonna be beans and rice. And a little more, a little more party at the beginning of the month. Um, and you know, I, I tried to eat fairly seasonally and build my menu around what's affordable at the time.

And again, like I said, I have some recipes tagged by season. And so I would kind of take those tried and true recipes that I knew were appropriate for the season. Use those start plugging those in for the month, supplement with whatever, what I know is on sale or, Things that, you know, if the budget's really tight, I have some, recipes that are tagged as, you know, low cost recipes.

Um, and then I just filled in as much of the month as possible. Let that grocery list auto populate and plan to eat and take it to the store with me. And I remember. Back when there wasn't an app. So it was just auto-populating into the little, uh, browser on my [00:12:00] phone. And gosh, what did I do? Didn't have a smartphone.

I had plan to eat before I had a smartphone. So I'm trying to remember

Roni: Did you just print it from the

Amylee: I can't remember if I did that. I may have had to do that. So, yeah, but still it was easy because it just made my nice little list. Take it to the store. And so I did this huge shopping, um, right after payday, and then would supplement here and there as I needed to.

But I also, I found at that point that the fewer times I went to the store, less money I spent. So I really tried to, to go as little as possible. Similarly, So my shopping day was usually as close to payday as I could make that happen. So some people have a regular shopping day, either just it fits in their schedule.

Or I know some people are great at taking their kids to the grocery store with them, but I found I did better. I was more focused. I saved money, on those big trips, especially if I could go without them. So your shopping day can also [00:13:00] anchor, Your menu planning and that could just be necessity, you know, uh, that could also change.

So maybe grandma helps out, um, on a certain day of the week or something like that. So some people might just build their, uh, shopping list and might be most productive for them to just build it around the day that they can do that, that focus shopping. And that could be their anchor. So those are a few examples.

I'm sure there's others out there that hopefully these are, you know, jogging people's ideas and maybe even getting them to think, oh, I kind of do that anyway. I didn't realize that this was my anchor. That was my anchor. 

Riley: Well, I'm thinking about it as an anchor, I think is really helpful because I, I personally love the term anchor. Like this is the thing, this is what kind of like sets me up for success this anchor day, or, activity it's pantry or sales or freezer meals or whatever it is. And certainly it's probably jogging people's ideas of like, oh, I didn't even realize I had an anchor day

But I think that tips like this. Are incredibly helpful for people. I love hearing how other people do it because it inspires [00:14:00] me to make tweaks to my own. You know, like the way I do it. Um, okay. But I really wanna talk more about these freezer meal club that you do. Roni and I are huge fans of community meal point any unity meal plan, any meal planning, And so we encourage people to just text a friend, Hey, what are you eating this week?

Um, because it can get, so it's such a monotonous task. And so any way you can lighten it up to be more enjoyable or faster, whatever, whatever it is that you need, uh, we're all about it. So I text Roni all the time. We have another coworker, we text all the time and we are just like, what are we eating this week?

Somebody gives, gimme some ideas, cuz I'm just dry. So I think the meal, the freezer meal club is fascinating. How does it work? Is it everybody has the same number of servings they're cooking for, you know, how many people are gonna be there. Tell us more about that.

Amylee: so it can work in several different ways. And. Actually do have an ebook and a course all about the different ways you can do this. And I've tried it different ways, my group now.[00:15:00] And I just wanna say, yes, you're right about it can really get, you know, for some people it's like, uh, one of my favorite memes ever is the one where that like Victorian mom is like, why do they need to eat every single day?

You know? What, how they just, it never stops. That's kind of what it feels like sometimes. Right? So one of the big, um, benefits of a freezing meal club is the variety, at least for my family, because my family loves to try new things. Now, if you're, I, I have tips and tricks to help you. If you have like really picky eaters or people who are not adventurous eaters.

But for my family, we love the variety, so it's always fun for us to try different people's recipes. 

So I'm going to make, I, we have four people in the group, including me. I'm gonna make five sets. So I'm making 10 meals, right? One of each of. So two meals for each person, you know, a set is one of each of those. Um, so we show up and they've also [00:16:00] made two different meals. Uh, we show up and then I have Myro here's Amy Lee here's, you know, Janes here's whoever.

And then we have the fifth one, cause I said there's only four of us. We call blessing. So we give those to somebody who is in need. So, uh, I go home with 10 meals, 10 different meals and put them in my freezer. And then we take the blessing meals sometimes go to one family. They might go to more than one family depending on, on, uh, what's happening.

So it's, uh, It's super fun, cuz I go, oh Ooh, we made that. And, and the group has its favorites, you know? So sometimes we go, oh, I love that Curry recipe, you know? and, and there's some things that I go, oh, I'm making this again. But I have to remember that. Okay. If I make it every other month, that that family is not eating it every day.

Right. It's still, they're like, oh, okay. Yeah, we have a, you know, and we do sign cut sometimes. Assess. We kind of know what, what we like now.[00:17:00] But if somebody, if a family really doesn't like something, it's okay, we don't get our feelings and say, yeah, that didn't go over well. So we focus on the proteins.

We have, uh, a budget, which we're probably gonna have to discuss of, uh, about what you're gonna aim for. Because when I first started the group and somebody came in with a recipe that was, you know, $20. Um, and I was like, oh yeah, I wasn't expecting really to spend that much. So we all aim for right now, it's around the $12 mark.

We try to do all the proteins, organic. Um, so in my course, in ebook, I talk about how your group can decide, you know, what its priorities are, what its guidelines are. Some people feel like they can't do stuff like that because of allergies, but you could set up a group that's really based around, the allergies of the group.

I mean, I think it's a great option for people that do have, uh, specific diets, you know, um, That they can work with that within the group and still get variety, because if you are somebody and I, I don't have direct [00:18:00] experience with food allergies, but, if you are somebody that has severe food allergies in your family, you're probably cooking all your meals.

You're not going out. You're not doing prepackaged stuff, so it, it would help lessen, The weight, like we were talking about that sort of the, of the mundane and every day I have to cook, it helps, uh, lift that weight a little bit. So, so that's that's freezer meal clubs in a nutshell. We're supposed to meet tonight for my freezer meal club, that somebody is sick. So we can't. So I made, um, hoagies and I made, oh, what was the other thing? I made a Greek burgers. So those are the two meals. I, if we have four people, we're only having four people right now, it really kind of took a hit with COVID the group got smaller.

Riley: That sounds so cool. I love the blessing meal. That is so sweet. And so just community oriented. That's amazing. Um, just the parameters around it that you've set. Uh, it's brilliant. It really is. So if people are 

Amylee: Those 

Riley: in doing this

Amylee: are flexible. That's just, I'm kind of telling you what [00:19:00] we do, but your, your group can do it however you want. Like I said, that's just one way in my book. I talk about different ways that you could do it too.

Riley: Yeah, so people should definitely go check that out. And I just meant parameters as in, like, you can set this up, however you want to, you just kinda ask these questions and set up this idea. So, um, I love that. That's really, really cool.

Amylee: I don't know. Now I'm like, oh, I can't survive without that. Like, some people say, oh, I'm so busy this month. I can't participate. And I'm like, you have to participate. If you're busy, that's the month you need it. The most.

Riley: the point?

Amylee: Right. That's the whole point of it. Yeah. And the blessings to me are, um, sometimes they're within the group.

So, you know, if somebody's had a baby or, you know, unfortunately we've had bad stuff happen. Like I was in a bad accident once another person's, you know, husband really hurt himself or illnesses. So it works when it's just within the group. But then we're also able to really reach people in need in our extended community without a lot of the red tape or, you know what I mean?

It's like a lot of times something [00:20:00] happens and you go. Uh, I don't know what to do, you know, and as, I feel like as women, especially that's, it's either how we're, just raised, you know, we feed each other. That's how we help each other. But especially for families with kids that, you know, the families have to eat. So it's a way that we can really immediately make an impact and help in the community. So it's, it's great.

Roni: Yeah, I really love that idea. Uh, it sounds like we should start one of these Riley

Riley: Yeah. I've done it. I've done something similar. When I've had friends, who've had babies, we'll just do a freezer meal party. It's like one day we'll get together for like what feels like 70 hours. cause sometimes by the end of it, I'm exhausted. Um, but it's really fun. It's cuz you to do with all your friends and you just it's like one of the girls in the group of five, it's having a baby.

And so we just make. Seven or eight meals just right there together in one person's kitchen and package, 'em all up. And then we just leave them all there with her, or she gets to take 'em home. And that's really cool, but I love the idea of it's just a club. You do it at your own house. You bring 'em and you trade, cuz it's a lot less work for one person to just [00:21:00] make one meal.

Um, and then you're trading. So you're getting to eat something different that it's yeah, it may it's

Amylee: Yeah. I mean, both definitely have their advantages. I feel like the, um, the method that you talk about it's is very traditional in that it used to be during harvest time. We all got together. And, picked things or butchered things or peeled things. Right. Uh, and that's when the community caught up with each other in the news and, you know, oh, you know, see, I see your kid is doing this now and, uh, connected with each other.

So I feel like there's a big advantage, um, in doing that way. But I do love the flexibility of, oh, I only have time to make this one meal right now. I don't have seven hours, you know, to, to do that. So, uh, so again, advantages to, to both ways.

Roni: So you were mentioning earlier that you've got some older kids and you've used Plan to Eat for a really long time. So it'd be great to hear about how your meal planning has evolved. Um, you know, since having little kids and to now having, you know, not as many kids around the house [00:22:00] and just kind of what that's looked like.

Yeah. What's that look like over the years?

Amylee: Yeah. So my meal planning has changed a lot and I didn't really think about it much until I first kind of started talking to you guys. And plan to eat has been so great over the years. I, I looked back, I was trying to figure out when I started with plan to eat and it's gotta be at least 10 years ago. Uh, I don't even know when you launched, but, I couldn't have been that


Roni: been around for 13 years. So

you were, you were pretty early on. Yeah.

Amylee: early-ish days. Um, but plan to eat. Is so adaptable that it's worked for all of these different ages and stages in my family's life. So my anchor has changed a few times. So 10 years ago I had little kids. I was homeschooling, so they were home. Uh, and I was having to figure out, you know, three meals every single day.

Plus a husband that took leftovers, like he didn't buy his lunch or, um, you know, go out or anything like that. Uh, very tight budget at the time. And my [00:23:00] husband also had a fluctuating work schedule. So I always loved the idea of kind of doing, you know, theme nights or things like that. But, It just didn't really work for us because, my husband might be working Sunday Monday, Tuesday, or he might be working, you know, the weekend or whatever.

So, that's kind of where I was when I started. And I was also pretty much doing the, Planning monthly, like I talked about before. Um, and so plan to eat really helped me, uh, stay on track with meals, know what I was making. It really took a mental load off of me, uh, and also helped me stay on track with budget.

So planning a me a month at a time. It does take time when you sit down and do it, but it was so worth it to me. After I was done, however long that took. And sometimes I might, you know, sit down and do it for a little while and then come back to it later. Then it was like, okay, you know, I'm good.

I know what's going on now. And of course life happened. So things would [00:24:00] change and plan to eat was super easy to drag and drop somewhere else or delete or move things around. So. So it was really great when I, you know, I, I just fell in love with it immediately. When I started then, boy, I don't know how long I've been in my freezer meal club, but I'm gonna say it's probably been at least five years.

So, you know, a few years later I did that. And then I started working around the, the freezer meals. So both for, you know, I bring all those meals home and that would kind of anchor my planning for, for the month. I would look. A month ahead. And I would say, when do I need these freezer meals? So I was still kind of doing that big, broad range planning.

But then it was also helpful just for actually planning the freezer meals. So I'm also tagging my meal for what makes a good freezer meal. And I'm, you know, moving that recipe to win. The next, uh, exchange I call exchange night is happening or to when I'm gonna make it and then increasing it, you know, multiplying the recipe by however many times.

So it was great for that. As your [00:25:00] kids get older, they start having preferences. Liking things more, less, you know, I was not really ever one to super cater to my kids' preferences because budget kind of was the ruling factor, what we're going to do, but that could also help more. So if you're gonna help more great, you can have, if you wanna make that recipe, if you like that recipe and you're willing to help with it.

Fantastic. So then they can kind of, you know, I'm taking recipes that they like and working them in, to the plan as well, making sure that stuff gets on my list and also sort of teaching them. This is how it. You wanna make it? I have to make sure I have the ingredients and Ooh, that's an expensive ingredient.

So I'm not sure when I'm gonna get around to making that recipe, things like that. At least having those conversations, even if you're not actually, uh, having them do all the planning, uh, or all the cooking, those conversations are a really good way for them to start realizing how much goes into it. Not even behind the scenes, but that you're just probably not paying attention to then I've done, Like I said, [00:26:00] CSAs and, deliveries at different ways over the years at different times. So then, that's always great too, cuz a lot of times I. think, you know, I think I'm gonna make this, uh, and that delivery box and maybe it didn't have in it, what I thought it was gonna have, or it had something different. I still had kind of my core ideas that I was able to put and plan to eat into the week and then, uh, adjust from there. And now I'm really trying to adapt to having fewer people at home.

Not even. Just cooking less. That's what I'm really struggling with because for so long, I've been trying to, um, cook for five people. Plus I always had leftovers. So now it's not like I have that fewer, many fewer people. How do you say that? It's not that I have, uh, It's not that the numbers have decreased that much, I guess.

But they are, these kids are mobile. They're out and about they'll say, oh yeah, my friend and I were gonna go do this instead. And I I'm going, oh, but I already made everything. You didn't tell me that, you know? So [00:27:00] I'm, uh, really trying to be more flexible. With them and their schedules and what they have going on.

Um, trying to downsize the cooking and maximize the leftovers. I mean, I've always been pretty good at leftovers. But for whatever reason, it's a different challenge. Now with fewer people there to eat them like before great. I have leftovers, I hope it lasts me another meal. Now I'm like, who is this a third day?

I don't know. You know, I gotta. I have to make less, and a lot more, I feel like is beyond my control with my kids and their schedules and their, you know, comings and goings. So I do more. Rather than I don't do monthly planning anymore. It's more like weekly now, which, you know, 10 years ago, you know, I would say, why would I just plan for one week?

that doesn't make any sense. Well, now it does make sense. Right? So I'm doing a lot more weekly planning and I'm putting a lot more holes in the schedule if that makes sense. So, yeah, so I'm, uh, I. Would [00:28:00] hardly ever skip a day. There would never be a day in my plan to eat calendar that didn't have anything in it.

And now I do have to work those in because I know, oh, you know, something's gonna happen and we're not gonna have that meal. Or I'm gonna have way more leftovers than I thought, uh, or whatever the case is. So I do a lot more holes in the schedule. But kid with plan to eat, it's so easy because I can just drag.

Things around move things easily. Um, so it's really been great. That plan to eat has been so adaptable to how my life has changed, over the past 10 years. So I've never, ever once considered not renewing ever.

Riley: that's awesome. 

Amylee: I'm just not sure how people do it with AF 

Riley: Yeah. we don't know either

Amylee: Yeah.

Riley: um, so I am definitely a weekly planner person. I mean, in everybody's situation is so different. , my husband works a shift schedule, so he works like two days and he is home for four days. And, but he's gone for those two days. Totally gone. And so I tend [00:29:00] to not.

Cook a lot. When he is gone, we eat a lot of leftovers. So I definitely eat a lot of leftovers here and which is great, cuz my husband doesn't really like leftovers and but me and my daughter, we're eating all the leftovers. But I would love if you would offer some tips around planning monthly. I know that.

It's maybe been a little bit of time since you've done that, but did you, you planned the whole month and you shopped for all the things that would last that long, and then you went again to get all the extra things. I would just, just give us tips on how that works, cuz I know that that could be helpful for a lot of people.

But it's not something I am, uh, skilled in. So you're our good resource for that.

Amylee: so monthly planning. I would say that, you know, every family has sort of their go to core recipes. So, you're probably just gonna take those and maybe you have five of them and you you're gonna double 'em. So there you have 10, you know, 10 of your main meals. I am part of a, um, group buying club.

So, uh, and even that's changed over there, like before, yes, I need to buy [00:30:00] it all. And now I'm like, oh, I gotta slow down. I don't need that much chicken, you know, uh, with few people, but at the time I would buy, uh, things in bulk from meat to dry goods, you know, beans, rice, things like that. And. My husband would try to keep that at bay somewhat because I would be like, I need to fill all the space with all the food, you know, to save the money.

And so we have to kind of try to find a balance of that, but I would buy, a lot knowing that we were, we were going to eat it. Big freezer is, uh, one of the big keys for me in doing that and then having pantry space to store those things. And then I would, Plan the meals. And one other thing that I did that might be helpful is, you know, one great thing about Plan to Eat is I can go back, um, and I can say, oh, what did I make last month?

What did I make two months ago? When for those times I go, Ugh, I'm just out of ideas. My brain's not working. I feel like I've already made all the things. So then I could just go, oh yeah, yeah. That recipe. Oh yeah. I tried that recipe. [00:31:00] Uh, and then I can just drop those into the monthly calendar. Uh, and then, like I said, I would do the one big shopping and, um, get as much as was reasonable and was gonna fit.

Tried to also key into like longer lasting vegetables. Cabbage is great for that brussel sprouts. Um, Cauliflower can actually last pretty well. Plus, uh, things like potatoes and those longer lasting things. And then, yes, my, my other supplement supplemental trips as two weeks went by three weeks.

Went by into the month would be for the produce. Um, especially if I was not at a period of my life where I was doing a CSA. Then I would try to get those fresh things, for those supplemental trips. So. Hopefully that's somewhat helpful, but, uh, but you know, repeat, uh, another thing that. I think one of the, I'm not big on Pinterest, but to say like Pinterest culture is we have all these beautiful meals and, [00:32:00] you know, they look so gorgeous and you know, sometimes it's gonna be beans and rice and cheese and, and that's okay.

So, you know, I really focused on just what's nourishing. What's healthy for my family. Of course, it was fun to try new things sometimes, but I really tried to limit that to like once a week, maybe I'm gonna try something new and hopefully it's gonna be something that can go into the rotation that we all enjoyed, obviously, not every time.

so, you know, it's okay to have simple meals. It's okay. To repeat the simple meals and again, this is because for our family variety and adventure, is something we look for in eating. I know some families it's the opposite struggle, um, and repeating meals is fantastic for them. I really like that.

Um, so, so yeah, that was kind of how I approached, uh, the monthly planning, for us.

Riley: shopping list is life saving and planning for a month because it it's a lot of work to total up the exact amount of ingredients that you need [00:33:00] for a month worth of meals. And since the shopping list does all of that for you, all that math for you automatically, um, That's gotta be incredibly helpful, but also for your, for very strict budgets, like, no, I need exactly this amount of this, and I'm not gonna buy extra, cuz I don't have the budget for it, but this is exactly how much we need.

And that's probably super helpful too.

Amylee: Yeah. Yeah. And having the, um, pantry feature too. So, you know, when I was kind of picking up those staple meals to drop them into the month knowing, oh, I have this meat already in my freezer. I have those beans or, or whatever it is, To sort of, I have this base that I'm working with basically to, um, to build the month on and then I'm gonna add just what I need, from that shopping list.

Yeah, exactly.

Roni: Well, Riley, do you have any, any additional questions? I feel like we've hit a lot of points here and. All of the, I, I love, I really love all of your, your anchors and just like your different options for ways that people can uh you know, everybody is [00:34:00] everybody's individual, like you said, everybody's unique in their family situation is unique.

And I think that a place where if somebody doesn't already have their like, set way of this is exactly how I meal plan, like giving people options of, you know, the way that meal plan doesn't have to be the way that Riley and I talk about meal planning, you know, like there's lots of different ways of doing.

So I just feel like this is such great information and hopefully, um,

Amylee: that aren't natural meal. Or so sometimes I talk about how I've meal planned since, before I was married, when I was single, uh, just because that's how I'm built. And not everybody is built that way for some people I'm, you know, because it's not the case for me. I go, oh, that must be weird for some people it's not natural, um, to do that, or they just wanna show up and say, what do I feel like today?

Um, so if, uh, if you're not. You're leaning toward meal planning already by nature, then hopefully figuring out, okay. What's my anchor. And let me just build from there

Roni: Yeah, exactly. 

Riley: Yep. 

Roni: Well, we [00:35:00] do like to end our podcast episodes asking you about what is a favorite recipe that you eaten recently? It doesn't have to be your all time favorite recipe, but what's something you've had recently that you wouldn't mind sharing with us.

Amylee: I haven't had it yet. Um, but it's one of my summer, dishes. It's actually my middle daughter's favorite thing it's called. I call it Fiesta bean mix. And it's just good for the summer. Because I, I usually go ahead and make beans from, uh, dried beans. But if you did it from canned, especially, you don't have to heat up the kitchen.

But it's basically beans, black beans, corn. Tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, uh, lime juice, some jalapeno, if you wanna, we don't always use it. Cilantro. You could throw some avocados in there, but I serve it either. Like on top of chips, like nachos or I fry up tostadas you could serve it a bunch of different ways, but it's, uh, something I've been thinking, oh, I need to make that at summer.

It's one of my summer favorites. So [00:36:00] Fiesta, bean mix is what we call it.

Riley: My mom makes something similar to that. And I think she calls it like cowboy caviar or

Amylee: Yeah. I don't know. I don't know. Does that only have black beans?

Riley: not, I'm not sure.

Amylee: I think it's probably, it probably is similar. And we also, I live in New Mexico, so we also add green chili to everything like think spicy. So, and it's, it's, it's another one of those things that's flexible make it work for your family. Um, but it's one of our summer favorites.

Riley: Yeah, thank

Roni: Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you for joining us today on the podcast. This was an amazing amount of information, so helpful for people who are trying to get better at meal planning, or just kind of revolutionize their meal planning and make it more productive. I love it.

Amylee: Fantastic. It was fun.

Roni: Thank you for listening to this episode, we hope you enjoyed it and got so much information from Amylee. We wanted to shout out to her blog, which is You can also find her on Facebook at productive mama. And we are linking in the show [00:37:00] notes, her freebie, which is the top 10 foods, all organized moms keep in their freezer.

So we hope you enjoy those resources and got a lot of info from. And

Riley: We're excited about the feature that Amylee mentions. When she talks about the pantry. We want you to know the inside of plan to eat. That's called the staples list. You can add everything you have on hand into your staples list. And then when you're making your shopping list and culling all of the things that you already have at home, you can reference the staples list, um, to see what you already have, um, and make your list even more.


Roni: we will link to, uh, help article about the staples list in the show notes as. Thanks again for listening.