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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How to make Weekly Meal Plans

Image taken from here

If you're anything like me, figuring out what to make for dinner each night can be quite the struggle. After a few years of "fulltime" cooking, I've come up with a pretty foolproof plan that eliminates the 4pm meltdown of "what's for dinner?"

There are a few things that make meal planning easier:
  • Stocked pantry (items you regularly use in meals, such as cream of mushroom soup)
  • Freezer large enough to stock up on meat (when meats go on sale)
  • Crockpot (for those days when it is just too busy or too hot to cook)
  • Grocery Database (to track sales and prices... it'll save you money!)

First, look at your calendar and determine how many meals you will need to make this week, as well as any notes about what those meals should be.

Image taken from here

For us, this week is a little busy, but we don't have anything major going on. Monday thru Wednesday we have an event at church every evening, so meals need to be quick and simple in order to make it on time. Thursday, Lover has a meeting over dinner, so he won't be home, and we may be going camping next weekend, which means that meals need to be campfire appropriate.

If we were having someone over for dinner, I would make a note of that, and if we had plans to go out to eat I'd put that into the plan as well.

Usually, I end up with 4-5 meals over a week's time, or 8-10 meals over a two week period. (which is how I usually make my meal plans)

Now I am going to take a look at my stocked meats and frozen foods. Do I have anything that needs to be used up? There's some beef in there that is nearing its expiration date, so I'll put that on the menu. Nothing else is reaching its past due point, so anything is fair game. (Get it? Fair game? Tee hee) I'll also look at sales this week for meat. Chicken is on sale for $1.79/lb at my local store, so I know I'll be stocking up on chicken. I make a note to include several chicken meals this week.

Next I will go through my recipes, noting any favorites that look appealing, as well as any new recipes that I've been wanting to give a try. This is where I also ask Lover if he has any "cravings" for the week. He usually answers "Mexican" so I'll include fajitas on one of my days this week.

Next I make up my grocery list, while consulting my pantry, freezer and fridge to determine what ingredients I'll need to make the meals this week. This is when I also write down items needed for lunches throughout the week.

Instead of assigning a meal to each specific day, I simply post a list of the "weekly meals" somewhere on the fridge. This allows me to choose whatever meal I am in the mood for on a particular day. My meals for this week are:
  • Chicken Caesar Salad
  • Fajitas
  • Beef Burgandy (in the crockpot)
  • Barbecue Chicken and Grilled Veggies
  • Chicken Pasta Salad (my new recipe to try this week)

So, in conclusion, our steps are:
  1. Check your calendar to see how your social activities will affect your meal plan.
  2. Determine how many meals you will need to make.
  3. Check stocked meats for expiration, and sales for bargain meat.
  4. Go through recipes and decide on your required number of meals for the week.
  5. Make shopping list, after checking pantry, fridge and freezer for supplies.
  6. Go shopping
  7. Assign a meal to each day, if you prefer.


Kim August 26, 2009 at 4:09 PM  

Good tips. We use some of them. I tried looking at ads, but I just hate it so I don't do it anymore. I get confused about how much things should cost. I need to get back into doing this, though.

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