March 10, 2012

Meal Planning

After being married for 9.5 years, I've finally figured out a good meal planning system that works for me. 

It is nothing complicated or fancy by any means - but, it works!

How I do it:

1.  At the beginning of the month, I plan meals for the entire month.  I write them on my white board which hangs on a large bulletin board in my kitchen.  It's ugly, but it helps keep my family organized.  I've tried hanging it out of site, but it doesn't work, I have to be able to look at!

2.  When I plan my meals, I refer to our family calendar and try to plan easy meals or plan to have leftovers on busy nights. 

3.  I then make a list of all the ingredients that I need to buy for that month.  I don't necessarily go out and buy all the ingredients in one shopping trip, but I save the list to refer to to see what I still need to buy.  I do try to plan meals with ingredients I have on hand.  

4.  Sometimes I want to change my mind, or we decide to have someone  over for dinner, and we want to change what was planned.  Since it's on a white board, I simply erase it and put the scheduled one on another night, or at the end or beginning of the calendar to know to put it on for the next month.  

Here are our meals from February:     (I linked up the recipes that are posted on this blog)

Sausage Bean Chowder
Wendy's Copy Cat Chili
Super Bowl Party Spread
Crab stuffed baked tomatoes
Tuna Salad
Peppercorn London Broil
Thanksgiving Casserole
Turkey Sopa
Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Chicken Gnocchi Soup
Zuppa Toscana Soup
Skillet Gnocchi
Sweet and Sour Pork Stir Fry

So I only cooked 19 dinners for a whole month.  I try to cook to have leftovers.   Seven of those dinners were new recipes.  More if you include some of the food I made for the Super Bowl Party.  The only recipe that I will never make again is the crab stuffed baked tomatoes - so very very disgusting.  I'm not really sure how some of these recipes get published, but whatever... 

We only went out to eat once!  That, my friends, is a serious record for us, and only because we were out of power for 5 hours, I had even made dinner that morning, but without power we couldn't really heat it up.

What I love about this system is that I don't have to think about what to make for dinner.  In the morning I check the board, and usually start preparing for dinner so I don't have to do it during witching hours in the afternoon. 

John loves it too, because sometimes if I waited until the afternoon to decide what we were going to eat for dinner, I had run out of steam and didn't feel like making anything, so that when John got home he would have to help make dinner, or do it all by himself after I gave him a suggestion of what I had thought about preparing.  I was a little behind starting my menu planning this month as you can see from the calendar above....

I can't believe it took me so long to get a system down, but so glad I finally have!  It's so easy!!!!!  It saves me time and money.  Love it!! 

What works for you?


  1. Awesome, I plan for 2 weeks. I have such a hard time coming up with meal ideas, maybe I should try the month thing. I love your term "witching hours!!"

  2. I do a month too, but I write down the whole meal, so I know it is well balanced and I have everything I need to prepare a whole meal, not just the main dish. I have a master monthly grocery list that I purchase the same things every month. I purchase the groceries needed for meals every two weeks. it's cut down on our dining out, too.


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