I love having a meal plan. I don’t know how to feed my family anymore without it. I certainly can’t grocery shop without it. I know it saves me time and money each month, but it is the mental energy that I can’t afford to lose these days. Meal planning saves me a ton of mental energy each day.Breakfast is easy. I start with the same meal plan and cycle through each week. My basic plan is a launching point for me, and I rearrange it as the week demands. (It is not a good idea to make pancakes on a morning that we have plans to be out of the house before 9:00.)
Lunches are almost always leftovers or a reinvention of leftovers. I think that this really helps us avoid waste and keep costs down. I know the meals that do not usually have any leftovers so I can easily plan wraps or sandwiches for that day.
It has taken me a while to find a supper plan that is a fit for our family, but I love the efficiency of what I have now. (Yes, I know that everyone else in the world eats “dinner,” but I was raised in a small Iowa town where we ate “supper.”) I start by giving each night a theme. I am married to a “meat and potatoes” man so there is no “Meatless Mondays” or ethnic dishes to plan around. We keep it super simple and plan a different meat for each night: Monday-ground beef, Tuesday- Chicken, Wednesday-Beef (usually a roast of some kind), Thursday-Pork/Fish. Fridays are busy so if we are home we have Popcorn Chicken. (I make a huge batch and freeze it when chicken is on sale so that it is an easy freezer meal. Who wants to cook on the front of a weekend?) Saturdays are for pizza and grilling. Sunday nights we have supper with our house church.
After I had my daily themes I came up with four recipes for each day for the season. In the Spring/Summer we like lighter meals and a lot of grilling options. In the Fall/Winter we eat a lot of soups and stews. I sit down and plan a month at a time. I can look at all my Mondays for the month put ground beef freezer meals on the crazy busy days or buy enough chicken for the whole month when it is on sale.
While I can’t always follow my plan all the time, I know of no other way to be prepared to feed my family quality meals at the lowest possible price. I don’t think that a meal plan is a meal rule. It is a tool, and I still have to roll with the punches. Monthly meal planning works really well with bulk shopping.
Here is a peak at my spring/summer supper meal plan. I literally cut and pasted it here so the notes behind each dish are for my benefit while meal planning. (Browned meat means that the meat can be precooked and put in the freezer.)
· Meatballs (Freezer)
· Shipwreck (Browned Meat)
· TacoPotatoes (Browned Meat)
· CheeseburgerSkillet (Browned Meat)
· GrilledChicken (Freeze Marinade)
· Sundried Tomato Basil Pasta (Browned Meat)
· Burritos(Browned Meat)
· CoqAu Vin (Crock pot)
· Stir Fry
· Shredded Beef Sandwiches (Freezer)
· Beef and Broccoli (Crock pot)
· Beef and Noodles (Crock pot)
· ShreddedPork Sandwiches (Freezer)
· Parmesan Tilapia
· Salmon Patties
Friday- Pop Corn Chicken (Freezer)
Saturday (Lunch) Pizza (Freezer crust or quick crust)
Saturday (Supper) Grilled Burgers