Monday, March 15, 2010

Meal Planning

Do you meal plan? Do you know what meal planning is?

Meal planning is a great way to organize all of you meals for a week, a fortnight and even a month! It's simply sitting down and writing out all of the meals you plan to eat ahead of time. This cuts down on food expense, waste and virtually eliminates those times where you are standing in front of the fridge thinking, "What the heck am I going to make for dinner?".

I learned how to make a meal plan "menu" from my mom. Smart woman. I made my first menu my first week out of my parents home which was my first week as a wife and right before my first grocery shopping trip and have been hooked ever since. I actually still have it! (After typing it, I am now acutely aware of how creepy that is.)

I plan my meals a week at a time. Sometimes every two weeks but more than that tends to get a little overwhelming for me. Every Sunday evening I plop down and devote time to deciding what we will have for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. My weekly plan includes notations for special events we have going on that week; like, Wednesday- Birthday party at 6:00PM means we won't have dinner at home. Tuesday- Bible study till noon then errands in Fort Worth means I'll be beat when I finally get home so I had better have a crock-pot meal that day. Like that! I used to write everything out on a weekly calendar sheet that had a special space for every meal, preparations I needed to make and a list of ingredients I needed to buy. Now, It's not so fancy, unless you count the colored sharpie I write down everything in. A piece of notebook paper works fine. As I mentioned before I saved about two years of menus in a binder. If I'm feeling a little lost as to what to add to the menu, I take a peek at what I have planned in the past. Menus are posted on the fridge for easy reference throughout the week.

There are lots of little blogs and websites to help you get started on your meal planning. not only has a plethora of recipes, but they have a system that allows you to save meals in a cookbook and create a menu as well as supplying you with nutritional information for your meals. I think they charge a small fee for a membership, however. Here is another link to a free recipe calculator to find out how healthy your home cooked meals really are!

THIS is a great article that details the benefits of meal planning. A good read for sure. And then there are places where people blog about their menus like here, and which also have templates and tools to help you plan. If you're feeling like you can't do it...YOU CAN, but if you just can't, this is a site where (for a small fee) they do all of the work for you. Well there you have it! So start planning!!

AND because I know so many of you really is what I have planned for this week to help get you started!

B- Eggs and sausage
L- Leftovers
D-  Venison brisket, baked potato and yellow squash

L- leftovers
D- Julie's house for dinner - bring side dish and dessert

B- Gluten Free waffels with P.B or yogurt
L- Soup, salad and sandwich
D- Red beans and Rice with cornbread

B- Scrambled eggs with toast
L- leftovers
D- Fried Chicken, corn and green beans

L- leftovers
D- Crock-pot chicken, green beans and carrots

L- leftovers + salad
D- Venison back strap on grill, oven baked fries and fruit salad

B- Soaked Oatmeal
D- Spaghetti and salad

Snacks and Dessert
cucumber w/ salt and vinegar
hummus and carrots
graham crackers and peanut butter



Stephanie said...

I don't think I could survive without meal planning! And you are so not weird for saving yours. I have two years worth saved (after that they were on pieces of paper that were trashed - Nathan actually wants me to start saving them again lol). I agree that anything more than 2 weeks is overwhelming. Mostly, one week works for us.

Emily said...

I so need to do this. We eat out way too much because I don't plan.

Amy said...

Steph - Good to know you've saved yours too! I like looking back and seeing how our eating habits have changed. I once saw a website where a lady planned her meals for a year! Inconceivable!

Emily- You'll love it once you get used to it. You seem like such an organized person anyway! :)

Becky said...

HAHAHA I remember doing this when we did home ec. Remember?? Mom helped us make out menus and then we had to make the grocery list? I still do it too!
I have my "main" list. This list is the one that I go off of(because I do not like keeping my spirals or notebook paper). It has any and every meal I like or would like to try. When I sit down on Sunday I just go down the list to decide what I am going to make from my main list and write it on that weeks menu. It makes it so easy and Jamie even can look over the list to help me decide so it's not all my work hehehe.

Leah said...

I save my past menu plans too, just so I can review them to make sure we don't get in the rut of eating the same things every week, or even every other week. It helps to insure that there is variety :)

Rona's Home Page said...

Welcome to MPM. I'm sure you'll love it.

Your menu plan sounds delicious.

I really enjoy MPM because I'm able to get loads of recipe ideas.
Just another reason for loving blogging.

dinnersanddreams said...

Amy, I love leftovers and am glad to see that they are part of your daily meal.