Here is a basic guide to meal planning from simplemom.com
After reading that article back in July, I decided to give it a try myself. My cooking was becoming boring and predicatable, food was being wasted and we were spending too much on groceries.
Now every Sunday while Mikey is taking his nap, I sit down with my recipe books, magazines and cooking websites and write out a meal plan for the following week. I can't say that it has cut our grocery bill dramatically, but it is cheaper than what we were doing before. We also very rarely waste food any more, I absolutely detest food waste so this is a good thing for us.
It also gives me more of a chance to be creative with what I'm cooking. It doesn't sound like that makes much sense, after all who plans creativity? Before I was planning our meals, every day at around 5pm I would go into panic mode, "What shall I cook?", "What do we have ingredients for?", "Why didn't I go pick up some X yesterday, now I can't make this!" etc etc. So it ended up that I'd usually just cook something boring and basic. Now that's fine every now and then, I'm not always in the mood for real cooking. But doing the same thing every day of the week just gets old, fast. It also gives me the opportunity to cook with a lot more fresh vegetables.
I write on the meal plan in my notebook (yes I have a slight notebook fetish) on one page, then on the opposite page I list out all of the ingredients that I need to buy for them in the vague sort of order I'd find them in the grocery store. Then I take a quick inventory of what we have in the kitchen and add or remove various things from the list. I get some quick husband input, he usually just says "Whatever you like dear" or "Why can't we have X?"
Then finally I write down all of the extras that we need like fruit juice, some healthy snacks for Mikey, paper towels, milk etc. It also seems to make the grocery run go a lot faster and more smoothly because we're not in the store trying to decide what we're going to eat that week.
There are usually one or two close repeats, but I try to mix it up and make something new at least one day of the week. For example we have been having linguine with fresh tomato sauce a lot in the past few weeks because it is SO good and SO easy to make. But I decided to leave it out this week so we don't overload. Here's this weeks plan -
Tonight (Sunday) - Roasted Chicken Breast with Cherry Tomatoes and Asparagus
Monday - Maple Syrup Sweet potatoes and Grilled Pork Chops
Tuesday - Cubed Hacked Caprese with fresh bread
Wednesday - Potato, Leek and Feta Cheese Tart
Thursday - Rotini with Chicken Sausage and Broccoli
Friday - Summer Vegetable Gratin with Grilled Chicken
Saturday - Summer Tagliarini
I like to write them out in a certain order, but I do tend to mix up the days a little depending on what I feel like eating or how long I think the fresh vegetables will last. I'm going to post a couple of the unlinked recipes on here once I've made them.
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