Monday, July 25, 2011

Meal Plan Monday ~ Week of July 24, 2011

 Since I began living on my own at age 18,  meal planning is pretty much something I have always done.  I'm not even quite sure how I started I just know I always did it.  Could be because I am a planner at heart and tend to be super organized.

I've never been one to just go to the grocery store, put some things in the cart and go home and throw together a meal or two.  I also do not like to make extra trips to the grocery store, nor do I have the time!  So for me, meal planning is a necessity.

 For this week's Meal Plan Monday I thought I'd share MY method for meal planning.  Feel free to use any of these ideas as is or modify them to fit your needs.

 I usually grocery shop on Sunday morning.  Don't ask me why.  I just always have and well, I'm a creature of habit (and just a bit OCD).  So pretty much every Sunday morning looks like this:

Step 1: Scour my sources for inspiration.  Sometimes I already have meal ideas in mind so I'll write those down first.  Then I look through my many recipe sources to fill in the rest.  I use cookbooks, my recipe binder,  and of course the items I have pinned online.  I generally only cook Sunday-Thursday.  I give myself Friday and Saturday off :-). 

 Once I know what I'm making I write it down on my handy dandy dry erase Meal Planning Calendar.  I got this really cute one from Target.  It came with a pad for making my shopping lists.  It is magnetic so it lives on the side of the refrigerator.  One great thing about this is you don't have to hear "Mom, what's for dinner?" a hundred times because everyone can just go and look at the calendar.

In case you can't tell, the first column is for lunch.  It's blank right now but we use it during the school year and it helps keep track of which days the kids plan to eat the cafeteria lunch and which days they need to bring their lunch.

The middle column is for dinners and the right side is for "Notes".  I usually write the recipe source in this column so I know exactly where to go for the recipe I may need.

You can plan for as many days ahead as you would like (although I suggest at least a week).  I know some people plan their meals for an entire month at a time.   I only plan a week at a time because I base my meals on the store's sales and also, many times I see a recipe that is a "must try" and I don't want to wait a whole month to put it into my schedule.

 Step 2:  Make a list.  Or two.  A word of caution here.  I am slightly anal so I usually make two lists as you will see here.  Of course one list will suffice.

 First, I go through my list of meals and, considering which ingredients I have on hand already, I make a list of the things I need to buy.  Pretty simple.

The next step in my list process is to go through it and re-write it trying to organize it based on the set-up of my grocery store.  For example, I list all of my produce items together at the top of the list because this is the section I start in.  I know this seems a little.....well....crazy.  But it keeps me from forgetting things and from wasting time going back and forth in the store for things on my list I forgot.  It works for me.

Normally my list is a lot longer, but since I'm going out of town on Wednesday I only had three dinners to plan.  I also never write down the things (milk, cereal, etc.) that I buy every single week.

Step 3:  Grab The Stinks and go shopping!  Yes, I take my kids with me to the store.  It is a lot easier without them but I usually don't mind taking them.  I think it offers a great learning experience for them (there's the teacher in me coming out) plus it helps us to practice "not having to get something every time we go to the store".  :-). 

Soooo....if you're still with me here is this week's meal plan.

Sunday- Spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread
Monday- Family Favorite Chili Mac, garlic cheese biscuits
Tuesday- BBQ Chicken, KFC Coleslaw, corn on the cob

Weekly Treat- Fluffernutter Cookies

As usual, anything in red is a recipe I will be posting in the near future!

For more meal plan ideas you can check here.  Have a great week!

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