Its a novel idea, one I have tried to do in the past. But I’ve never been particularly good with menu planning just because I’d wait until right before we were going to go shopping and then pull a menu together to go with the list. We’d usually end up with a few processed meals, not enough leftovers for lunches or just not enough time for what I’d planned to make. All three issues are things I really want to fix as we try to improve our diet and our finances in 2014.
So I decided last week to meal plan for a whole month. Yep, all of January has been planned. There are tons of free printable charts on the internet to help with this task. I planned six dinners per week and leave one meal as “free,” which would be either going out to eat or leftovers, or something else if we have it. I wrote meals for January and then last Friday put those meals on a weekly menu planner with a grocery list. The monthly meal plans are fluid, but not quite as fluid as the “planning” I did before. For this week I replaced one meal that we were going to buy ingredients for to a meal from the freezer in an attempt to lower the cost this week. I suppose it helped, but our emphasis on the budget of late has been eye opening when trying to improve the quality of our food.
Anyway, our menu for this week
Monday: Shredded BBQ chicken from the freezer and cooking in the crock pot.
Tuesday: Split pea soup in the crock pot.
Wednesday: Creamy garlic pasta
Thursday: Lasagna from the freezer
Friday: Turkey meatballs with mashed potatoes and vegetable
Saturday: Free, which is either go out or leftovers
Sunday: Fish sticks and veggie rice pilaf
This improved planning has already made the grocery list and shopping less of a chore! The most important part of the planning is variety and convenience. The evenings are so hard to get home from work, make dinner and get the kids to bed. So for Monday through Thursday, I’m trying to have meals that will be done when we get home or have quick prep and cooking time. Depending on circumstances, I’m open to switching meals during the week too, but with how I’ve planned them, I don’t see too much reason to as long as I take things out of the freezer and leave enough time for whatever prep I need to do in the morning. I guess we’ll see!