So this week I started meal planning. This has got to be the is the easiest thing ever and I can already tell how much smoother our lives will be by planning our meals each week. Eventually I want to meal plan by month, but that will take a little more prep work and practice, which is why I'm starting with weekly planning. Hopefully after just a few weeks, I'll be ready to move on to monthly planning. This morning I tossed a crock pot freezer meal I had on hand into the slow cooker and then sat down to make my grocery list for the rest of the week. I noted each meal for the rest of the week in my planner and on a printable I found via Pinterest. As I chose the meals and made my grocery list, I looked to see what food we already had on hand and what ingredients we needed for other meals.
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I write the meals in two places for a few reasons. For one, each printable I found has room for notes or grocery lists. This way if the meal you planned requires you to buy something the day of, you will see that item on your list and know you need to pick it up. If you can't get to the store that day, you can also switch the order of your meals and go a different day. That's another thing to take note of, your list isn't written in stone, be flexible. Find what works for you and don't get frustrated if every week you have to move things around. The world isn't going to end if you have Taco Tuesday on Thursday! The printable is also helpful so both my husband and I can see what is planned for dinner that night and we know what needs to be prepared. This way either of us can start cooking whenever we need to.
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I'll be honest, my husband is the cook in our family, so this list is pretty much perfect for him! Haha! But, what can I say, I'm a lucky girl! He really loves cooking and he is great at it. He can make up a meal with pretty much anything we have on hand. Speaking of which, have you every seen the show on Food Network called Chopped? If you haven't, it's a cooking show where the contestants don't know what they will be making until the beginning of each round. They have a mystery basket and they open it to find out what ingredients that will have to use. I'm 99% sure my husband would be amazing on that show. In fact, I've been tempted to hold my own version of chopped where I put together a few baskets for him and he has to cook something for us. Sounds like a good time to me!
(chopped judges competing in a challenge) image found here
Okay, back to the topic at hand!
I write the meals in my planner so that I can have them on hand for the long term. My printable sheets get tossed after I use them for a few weeks. I don't just write one week on them, that seems wasteful to me. I can write one week on the first line and when that week is up I can just cross each meal off and write the next week's meals below it. Then I toss the list, so when it's gone, it's gone and I don't have a million sheets of paper lying around. My planner will be here all year so I can easily see what we had three weeks ago and I can start to repeat meals we liked. I can also see what we had last week and make sure we don't have the same meals over and over again. The planner will come in handy for monthly meal planning as well. I will plan a month at a time in there and then I'll transfer it to the weekly sheets as we go through the month. I think I'll also put stars next to the meals we really loved so I have a quick reference of my go-to meals.
this is the planner I have and I love it, find it here
Each time I do this I intend to share my meals here on the blog along with links to most (if not all) of the recipes. At some point (maybe monthly) I will come back and share my opinions on new recipes we tried.
To get you started, I found two great FREE printable planners for you here and here. That second link is great, it has one printable that starts on Sunday and one that starts on Monday.
Here is our list for this week:
Monday: Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches (this was a freezer meal I had previously prepared) Recipe
*More on this meal and the site in a future post
Tuesday: Venison Tacos (just like any other tacos, but we use venison meat)
Wednesday: Pizza (I have dinner plans, so the boys will be on their own with pizza)
Thursday: Bisquick Chicken Strips (need a gluten free option, this is a good one) Recipe
Friday: Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
Saturday: Chicken and Potatoes (need an easy peasy meal? This is your answer!) Recipe
Do you meal plan? If so, what method works best for you. What are your go-to recipes?