Meal Planning Made Simple(r)!

I must admit . . . I’ve been a pretty sorry grocery shopper lately.  Between Christmas planning, Christmas having, and then getting back to school this week, I’ve been avoiding the grocery store like the plague!  Why do people want to eat when I’m busy?  😉  They probably expect to eat around your house, too.  So, in an effort to simplify my own life, I’ve pulled up this post from the archives so I could remind myself what was on my plan, tweak it a bit, and check it against my grocery list.  Thought someone else might appreciate the help, too!  Here you go, and happy Saturday! 

One stressor for most moms is figuring out what to make for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Many menus that purport to “help” actually DON’T because they’re not designed for families and your kids don’t want to eat scallop kebobs or Thai turkey burgers or whatever great thing some gourmet grownup dreamed up!  Take some time today to think through the things your family enjoys eating.  You know what’s next . . .Write them down!  I’ve listed here my own weekly breakfast and lunch menus, as well as my list of 30-some potential dinners!  I’ve put these into a calendar form that I can use month after month–just post it on the side of the fridge.  

Another great tip is to buy hamburger meat in bulk.  Make a couple of meatloaves, some meatballs, and then just brown some of it, put them in plastic freezer bags, and toss them in the freezer!  Do the same with boneless chicken breasts or even whole chickens, if you want to save money–throw them in a pot of water and cook them til the meat falls off the bones; then bag the meat pieces up in meal-sized portions and put them in the freezer too.  If you want really *tasty* chicken, though, drizzle the cut-up whole chicken or chicken breast with some olive oil, throw some crushed garlic on it and add a bit of salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, thyme, or whatever sounds good, and then roast the chicken instead.  Let it cool, dice it up, put it in a few zip bags, and voila . . . instant chicken for chicken salad, chicken casseroles, etc etc!  A BIG time and sanity saver on homeschool days!  

Now, time to think about what’s for dinner.

Seriously, this seems to be quite a stressful thing for so

many moms. I have one son who says “What’s for

____________” the second we finish whatever meal we

happen to be eating at the time! It’s nice to be able to just

direct him to the refrigerator to take a look and read it for

himself! Planning out weekly menus is a great way to save.

You spend less time at the grocery store and therefore less

money! But it’s even better in my view to have a plan for the

whole month, every month! Here’s how . . .make a list of

everything you even occasionally make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Go

through your recipe books or cards or whatever you have,

and write them down. Then fill out a month-style form for

the dinners. Try to mix it up so that

beef/chicken/fish/turkey/pasta meals are spread throughout the

month. You’ll be surprised at how many things you *do*

know how to cook, I’ll bet!  Writing it all out helps you get out of the rut!

Often when you try to use someone else’s menus for your

family, you find things on them that you know your kids are

*not* going to eat. I’ll go ahead and show you my family’s

list, and maybe it’ll spark some ideas. If you want, you’re

more than welcome to copy it!

Breakfast:

Sun. Eggs, bacon, biscuits/rolls

Mon. Muffins

Tues. Cereal

Wed. Waffles

Thurs. Oatmeal

Fri. French Toast

Sat. Pancakes and sausage

Lunch:

Sun. Out to eat or big dinner prepared the night before

Mon. Mac n’cheese w/ cucumbers and ranch dressing

Tues. Turkey Sandwiches w/ chips

Wed. Nuggets w/ fruit cocktail

Thurs. PBJ’s w/carrot sticks

Fri. Fish sticks w/ corn *update* tuna melts on English muffins

Sat. Grilled cheese w/tomato soup

Now, of course any of these are interchangeable. I often will

make chicken or egg salad sandwiches rather than the

turkey/pbjs; and if there’s a cool or rainy day during the

week, that’s usually when I’ll serve grilled cheese!

Here’s the big list . . .

Dinner:

Roast chicken/stuffing/green beans

Hamburger stroganoff/corn

Ham & pineapple/rice/peas

Stuffed manicotti/cucumbers

Orange chicken/mashed potatoes/green beans in mushroom soup

Homemade Pizza/carrots

Broccoli-Chicken-Rice casserole/rolls

Pork tenderloin/carrots/mashed potatoes

Steak/corn/roasted potatoes

Spaghetti with meatballs/salad

Salmon with apricot jam/saffron rice/peas

Chicken parmesan/green beans

Pita bread pizza/salad

Sweet n’sour meatballs/rice/broccoli

Pork chops/applesauce/peas

Burgers/fries/corn

Chicken fettucine alfredo/salad

Chili/chips/cucumbers

Chicken and dumplings

Broccoli soup/cornbread

English muffin pizza/carrots

Roast beef/mashed potatoes/brown sugar glazed carrots

Chicken enchiladas/cheesy salsa rice

Ham n’potato casserole/broccoli/

Steak-pepper-mushroom-onion kebobs/roasted potatoes

Lasagne/salad/garlic rolls

Barbecue ribs/wild rice/green beans

Baked mac n’cheese/sliced tomatoes

Sweet n’ sour chicken/fried rice

Chicken/steak fajitas

Barbecue meatballs on sub rolls/salad

Chicken pot pie

Barbecue chicken on buns

Chicken noodle casserole (usually Angel Chicken)

Not bad, hmmm? So you could just go through this list and

fill out the squares on a blank calendar (I just drew mine on

computer paper with a ruler!) and stick it to the side of your

fridge. The point isn’t to follow it exactly, because some

night you might want something that’s “scheduled” for two

nights from now–the point is, you’ve got a choice and aren’t

standing there staring into your open fridge with a glazed

look in your eyes! The ingredients will be in your fridge

because YOU HAVE A PLAN!

If you *really* want to get ahead of the game, go through the

calendar you’ve made and make two grocery lists: One for

weeks 1 and 2’s menus (don’t forget breakfast and lunch!),

and then one for weeks 3 and 4. Just interchange them

when you go to the grocery store. Best of all, put them into

your planner so you’ve always got them with you and can’t

leave your list home, as I so often do! Make sure you

remember lots of fresh fruit on your list, and maybe some

pudding, cheese sticks, granola bars and other great things

for snacking on. No more wondering what’s for dinner!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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9 Responses to Meal Planning Made Simple(r)!

  1. April Tashjian says:

    great job,Misty!!! you and I are on the same page…Harvey’s has beef in bulk right now…on my way!!lol

  2. Sandy says:

    What a good reminder to get up to date with the meal planning! Between the holidays and the post-holiday illness, I really have no idea what we’re eating around here. :( I know I need to learn to cook a few new dishes as well, though my family, like most, likes their favorites and isn’t big on trying new. I’m a little bored with the menu, though, so it’s time to get back in the kitchen.

    • admin says:

      I’m so in that boat, Sandy, and anxious to feel more together and ready for my week. Just the other day I pulled out all my clippings and loose pieces of paper w/favorite recipes on them, and it was pretty prodigious! I need a plan for trying new things…experiment night, anyone?

  3. Christy says:

    Sounds good!!! It’s always helpful in jumpstarting your own planning by seeing what someone else is doing. BTW, I see cheesy salsa rice???? That sound yummy! Have a recipe or is that a homemade creation? I’d love to try it here. P.S. LOVE the purple background, my favorite color!

    • admin says:

      Christy, that’s exactly the way I look at it–someone else’s ideas give me a framework! :-) Cheesy salsa rice is just cooked white rice with a jar of salsa and some cheese–cheddar, Velveeta, whatever you have on hand–stirred in while it’s hot. I’m glad you like the new background–it needed a tweak!

  4. Kelli says:

    Thanks for the *inspiration*!!!

    • admin says:

      You’re welcome, friend! Now to get my own chosen for the week; I went to Publix and shopped all their buy-one-get-one stuff and have to see what fits!!! :-)

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