Meal Plans

I dunno about you, but I don't like hearing "What's for dinner".  It usually doesn't end well because I generally don't have an answer.  Especially after I've been working all day.  But the last few months or so, I've been working on my answer.  Its been coming to me slowly.

First, I heard/read of people planning out their weekly meals.  Some crazy people do it by the month.  Even more insane are people who cook multiple meals at the same time and freeze/save for later.  I promptly forgot about this nonsense.

Second, we wanted to work on our monthly budget.  Food seems to be the easiest thing I can alter around here.  At little bit of planning can go along way.  Coupon clipping takes up time and I haven't figured out how to make it work for the things my family buys.  I have to find another way.

Third, I am mentally exhausted after a day of work.  Making decisions about food while starving turns into a fast food binge.  Even that can be taxing on my brain.  The only worst question than "what's for dinner?" is "where do you want to eat?" 

One day, while browsing at Anthropologie, I found these pads of paper.  They had lists on them.  My type-A personality had a heart flip-flop.  Maybe these lists could help?  Imagine a weekly list of what to eat for dinner, plus lunch, breakfast, and snacks!  Yes, its silly to spend money on something I could easily concoct myself, but it might be worth it to motivate myself.  So I did. I bought them.  I took it one step further and used them.

These are some examples of meal plans from the past month.

I found it helps tremendously.  I try to sit down on Friday or Saturday and plan out the meals based on my work schedule.  On evenings I am off, I plan to make dinner or have something in the crockpot.  On evenings I work, we either have leftovers, frozen food, or hubby gets pizza.  I also like to write out what snacks we have so we can know at a glance what is stocked instead of staring at the pantry.  Once I have a meal plan, I make a shopping list.  Yes, I also have the handy-dandy shopping checklist.

 I keep both on the refrigerator and, yes, we actually check off what we are out of during the week.  I add to it once we make the meal plan.  My goal is to go grocery shopping once per week.  In reality, we go two to three times.  It's usually a milk and bread run, or a chocolate run.

Meal planning is worth the effort.  I enjoy spending money deliberately rather then off-the-cuff.  My money should be working for me, and this is one way I can ensure it is.  Plus, I don't have to give up eating out, I can schedule it in so I have something to look forward to.  I also like saving the plans so I can look back over the last few weeks and remember what was amazing, easy, and what not to make again.

So, what are you having for dinner?


Bree said...

I have to say, right now it depends on the farmer's market selection as to what we eat each week. I also freeze a lot of things that take time like taco meat or diced chicken so I already have easy protein to add to vegies. Awesome list though. I am not good at planning ahead much.

mme said...

i love the idea of going to the farmers market, but never seem to make it. i also wish i had a larger freezer, but we have to work with what we got.

Carly said...

I have the same "what to eat" list, I use it every week! It's funny, but we usually have two "leftover" nights a week. Otherwise, leftovers just pile up in my house...I haven't figured out how to cook for 4. I mean, I have to put all that work into making something yummy, I might as well make enough to feed an army. So, leftovers become lunch AND leftover nights. Haha.

mme said...

I know what you mean about leftovers. I always seem to make too much food. I really only have to make dinner three nights a week, and the rest can be leftovers. The problem is, I don't like eating the same thing two or three nights in a row and I end up throwing it out since my kiddos rarely eat what I make anyway. Maybe if I only ate PB sandwiches we could make it work.