Meal Planning Monday

I’d like to jump into “meal planning Monday” by giving an idea of how I plan our dinners for the week / month.

I get paid on the 15th so my meal planning for the month is based around the 15th to the 15th and maybe a little more in order to finish evenly at the end of a week.

I take several things into consideration when doing this. First, I take a look at the calendar and determine how many meals need to be planned. I always plan 5 dinners per week so I typically have 20-25 dinners planned per month.

Second, I take a look at the pantry to see if I have any items that need to be used up. A can of enchilida sauce means chicken enchilidas or a jar of spaghetti sauce might mean homemade pizza or chicken parmeasan.

Third, I ask each member of my family what they’d like to see on the list. My husband’s favorites are quiche and meatloaf and my oldest daughter loves Alfredo with chicken and broccoli.

Fourth, as I am writing my list, I make sure to keep balance in mind. I try to have a good mix of chicken, beef, pork, fish, breakfast, salads, soups, sandwiches, pasta, mexican, chinese, italian, etc…meals included.
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I have a small notebook where I keep every month’s dinners listed and I look back frequently to remind myself not to duplicate too much but also to give myself ideas on what worked (and what didn’t) in the previously months. In addition I browse cooking magazines and Pinterest for inspiration. I am not a strict recipe follower but I like to get ideas from these sources.

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Once I have my dinners listed out I determine what days of the week we will be eating each meal. I space them out making sure to take activities and leftovers into consideration.

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When all of our dinners are in place in my planner I decide when I will do the grocery shopping and make a list for a 2 week span. I write out my shopping list by considering what is to be made each day and what I will need to make it. I write my list in the order which I shop the store and then do a rough estimation for how much I will spend at each store.

This process may seem a little drawn out but it is what I have been doing for years and it works great for us. I truly enjoy planning our meals and cooking a nice dinner at the end of a busy day and this process has ensured less eating out and more family meals around the table. Making a shopping list has also really decreased the amount of money we spend on groceries and has cut out those last minute runs to the store for that one item needed to finish a recipe.

We all need a little help in the kitchen sometimes. Please let me know your families favorite go-to dinners!

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