Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Works-for-Me Wednesday: Meal Planning

Well, I've been promising to put up a post about my meal planning. It really isn't too complicated.

First, I made a list of our favorite meals, main dishes and side dishes. I included the cookbook and page where they can be found, or if the recipe is on a recipe card in my box.

Second, I created a weekly calendar that hangs on my refrigerator door. It has a section at the bottom for "next weeks grocery list."

Third, I created a spreadsheet for the grocery store by aisle. I put all of our "usuals" on the list and nothing "special." That way, I don't get sidetracked and focus on the things we need instead of the things we want. (I'll see the things I want anyway.)

Fourth, I fill in the dates on the calendar and add any evening events that may affect our meal schedule.

Here's the process:

Sunday - usually homemade pizza and a side salad. We have church stuff most of the day so it's an easy homemade meal for us in the evening that doesn't require a lot of time or work.

Wednesday - the little boys and I will have breakfast. We'll choose something like omelets, waffles & bacon, etc. Dad has youth club that evening so he isn't home for dinner. I like to make something easy. And I'll usually do a double batch of Bisquick items (waffles, pancakes, etc) to put in the freezer for another week.

Thursday - date night. My husband and I usually go out on Thursday nights to give me a break from the kitchen. We don't spend a lot when we go out but we make it a priority. Anyway, I'll have leftovers or sandwiches ready for the kids, or some nights they'll get something "special" like hotdogs (since we rarely ever have those around because of my food allergy).

So, those nights are covered. That leaves Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Not too bad.

Next, I'll look at the calendar and see if we have anything going on the rest of the evenings. Twice a month we have small group on Tuesday, so either I'm cooking for a large group, or we eat at their house. And if there's a sports event for the middle school or high school I'll factor if we have to eat early, take something along, eat there, or eat when we come home. That determines how much time I have to cook something. And if there's anything else going on that will change a meal-time, I'll add that to the list.

Then I look at our tried-and-true recipe list. I try to vary the beef and the chicken. Sometimes it's vegetarian and sometimes it's fish. About every week or every other week I add in something new (probably a recipe out of my Food Network Magazine, Cook's Country Magazine, or from one of your blogs). That way, we don't get too sick and tired of the food we eat at home.

Then I fill out the master grocery list. I put on all the meat, most dairy, some fresh, and all of the non-perishables. Then I look at the weekly needs and add it to the bottom of my weekly calendar that hangs on the fridge. I can add items that we need to that list throughout the week, if we run out of cinnamon for example.

This is what it looks like for the next two weeks:

Sunday, February 22
Side: dessert
Main: appetizer x2 (layered taco dip, Chex and City Mix)
Oscar's Party

Monday, February 23
side: potato chips
main: BBQ sandwiches (cook the roast on Saturday and shred the meat)
veggie: cole slaw
AMS BB 8th 4:30p
Jess TCHLTB meeting at 6:30p

Tuesday, February 24
main: leftovers
Jess gone for baby shower

Wednesday, February 25 - new recipe
side: breadsticks-Mrs. D's recipe (freeze half)
main: penne w/ white beans and baby spinach-Short Stop's recipe
Youth Club
Hubby's mom in town

Thursday, February 26
side: "potato ole's"
main: tacos
Hubby and I gone until Saturday 1pm
Grandma to sit

Friday, February 27
side: chips
main: hotdogs
veggie: veggie sticks (celery, carrots)
Hubby and I gone until Saturday 1pm
Grandma to sit

Saturday, February 28
side: breadsticks (in freezer)
main: spaghetti
veggie: side salad

Grocery List for Next Week:
P's apple sauce


Sunday, March 1
main: homemade pizza
veggie: side salad

Monday, March 2
side: baked potato
main: porcupine meatballs
veggie: dilled corn
meal delivery (double batch for dinner)

Tuesday, March 3
meal at growth group

Wednsday, March 4
side: toast with homemade strawberry jam
main: omelets
Youth Club

Thursday, March 5
side: cheesy potatoes
main: baked ham and cheese buns
veggie: peas
Date Night

Friday, March 6
side: baked sweet potatoes
main: beef wellington
veggie: fresh green beans with toasted almonds

Saturday, March 7
main: leftovers
TCHLTB - Jess gone

Grocery List for Next Week:
sweet potatoes

As for saving money during this process, I just save by sticking to my list. I'll also check the ads before I get to the store to see if anything I want on the list is on sale or if there's a coupon. If there's a really good deal, I might stock up on something (10# 93% lean ground beef for $2.79/#). Sometimes I might alter my list if there's a good deal and change things around. I always make my list in pencil so I can move meals around if I want to or add something different.

Hope this I write it out it seems more confusing that it really is.

For more Works-For-Me Wednesday tips head over to Rocks In My Dryer.

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