8 Jan 2013

Meal Planning :: Family Life

A friend recently asked me about how our family meal plans for the weeks so i thought i'd share it here as well...

Meal planning - definitely something that we all have to learn... i feel like i'm still learning. But i find that it's less stressful if i have somewhat of a plan (and the food i need to make meals in the kitchen!) 

Here's what our meal planning looks like: Monday or at 'the start of the week', I sit down on my laptop and write out 5-6 meals that i'm going to make next week.

Choosing Meals:
I have an 'virtual recipe box' which has categories (chicken, beef, fish, vegetarian...) where i store meal that we like and i am comfortable with making. I also have a recipe box on allrecipes.com (i love the site because you can see which recipes get 4-5 stars and how people rate them) the recipe box there also has recipes i've used before. I also use pinterest and some blogs for new ideas. I try to add a new idea every week or 2 so that i can grow and explore new foods & recipes.

** when chosing meals i also try to look in my cupboards/freezer to see what i need to use (pasta? frozen chicken?... and create meals for the next based on that) also when i always try to buy meat, cheese and other more expensive items on sale especially if they are non-perishables and will keep for a while or freeze. i feel like we save money that way. and it's always helpful to have extra meat in the freezer!

So when i've decided what meals i write them on a 'sticky note' on my laptop.

Grocery Shopping:
From there i make a list of the items that we need to make all of those recipes. (We are actually able to order our groceries online with free home delivery - don't hate me, it's one of the small perks to living in a foreign strange land!) You could print out the recipes and take them with you to the store or make a list... whatever works for you.

Chalkboard Menu:
Then i copy my "sticky note" onto a chalkboard we just bought for the kitchen. That way i SEE what's ahead of me for the week and then decide each day what i feel like making. It's been working well for us... also if i'm away it's easier for my husband to know what he can make for us. As i make things i check them off... and when there's only one meal left i make a new list for a new week. (i only do 5-6 meals, because we eat leftovers once a week and sometimes out once a week - i also have one or 2 meals that i can whip up quickly and keep around the house ie. frozen pizza, pierogies... that i can make if i REALLY don't feel like cooking one day!)

I know some people do
mondays - chicken
tuesdays - beef
wednesdays - vegetarian...
thurs - pork
fri - mexican
(but we eat more chicken... and have found that doesn't work for us... but it might for you) i try to make sure i vary up the meats... and only do 1 vegetarian dish every 2 weeks or so, since my husband, like most of his gender, is a meat-lover!

I've found breakfasts frustrating lately (since my husband doesn't eat breakfast consistently, but my 2-year old son needs to....) so i made a breakfast menu that i'm going to try to stick to and put it up in our kitchen... i'm hopeful that it will give us a little more variety and order! 

How do meals wok around your house?