Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Meal Planning 101

So I have had several people ask me about how I plan my meals. Really for me it is all about organization of prep work. So here are a couple of tips I have for you:

- Look at your WEEKLY calendar:  I start by looking at my week and seeing what we all have and what we have time for. For example: Eric always works late on Thursday nights so I need something for the kids and I but I also need to make leftovers for E when he gets home. Or if we have dinner plans one night I will write in OUT TO EAT. Another example is I have bunco this week, it starts at 7 so whatever I cook for dinner I want to be able to eat early and have the kitchen cleaned up before I go. I take all that into account and fill in meals for each day.

- Keep of running list of recipes your family likes: I have a list of about 20 meals that my family loves, likes, or will tolerate. I keep those in the back of my calendar to use as a reference.I only try to rotate them once a month or at least space them out as far as possible. If you would like to see a list of those meals feel free to email me at

- Meal plan on Sunday: I meal plan on Sunday for meals from Monday- Sunday. And I do my grocery shopping on Mondays. This makes it easy for me. That way I have looked at my calendar, made my meals, and now i am ready to grocery shop. I also browse my Pinterest board on FOOD to see what other options I might be willing to try or whip up. It gives me lots of fresh ideas!

- Make a menu: I write out what is on the menu and keep it posted in the pantry for all to see. That way when I wake up each morning I know what's for dinner and what needs to be done to make it happen, it takes the guess work out of. When I make the menu I usually only include a short description. We are not big side people so for me I can do grilled chicken and a can of green beans and call it a day. But write out whatever helps you complete your meal.

- Make a grocery list: make a list of everything you need to make your weekly menu happen. We rarely eat out for dinner so I have to be prepared. Once you write down what you need SHOP your pantry. This will make life easier and lower your grocery cost. Oh and remember to take your list with you when you go to the store!

- Be flexible: There are some nights where Eric ask for something else or some thing in our schedule changes. Always be flexible. If you skip a meal or don't use it, freeze what you can and then save the rest of the ingredients. For example I have had Chicken Spaghetti on the menu for the last 3 weeks. Tonight we are finally having it.

Hopefully this helps you all. In additions here is an 8 x10 printable jpeg of my menu. You can print it out, hang it up or do whatever you like to it. For me I printed it out and laminated it. That way I reuse it weekly by using a dry erase marker. So what is your favorite thing to fix for your family when you meal plan?


Anna Braun said...

Love it! I write our menu on our calendar, that way I can look back at previous weeks so not to do repeats. We also have 2 theme nights - mexican/Asian and Italian/pasta that most weeks we do a variation of those - stir-fry and spaghetti are my old stand-bys for those nights :).

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