Previously in my Meal Planning Post (found here: Meal Planning)
I explained the way I plan meals and shop for them...well I have since made some changes, for the better.
My new meal planning goal is to simplify.
Although I love cooking, dinner time is the craziest time in my house. It is when the kids are the fussiest and we are usually trying to rush out the door. And where ever I am my children want to be too. This makes it hard to cook anything complicated.
In addition, I also like to challenge myself to make my money stretch further. I hate wasting extra ingredients or even buying random expensive ingredients...
So I came up with a new plan.
1.First I start with my Monthly Calendar.
Downloadable here: Calendar with Meal Plan
Each week I plan 5 meals.
(Assuming there will be at least 2 days where we will go out, have left overs, etc.)
For these 5 days, 2 out of the week will be “2x Meals”.
This means the meal will make 2 meals. One we will eat and the other I will freeze. So if you do the math, really you make one 2x meal
a week and you pull out a frozen one from a previous week.
Then for the other 3 meals:
One is a “Crock Pot Meal”. Always fast and easy.
One is a “30 Min. Meal”. Meals that average 30 minutes in the kitchen.
And the 5th is an “Other”. This is where I put in a meal that is fun, complicated, or just something I'm in the mood for.
Then looking at the calendar I figure which days need which kind of meal.
2. Next, I take my Meal Idea list.
Download new list here: Meal Ideas
(which has now been added to and categorizes the meals into the categories above: 2x Meal, Crock Pot, 30 Min., & Other. And taken even a step further...those categories are also separated by food type, ie: mexican, italian, etc).
I hope I am not losing you.
For the 5 meals in the week I try to choose each from a different food type.
So this week:
2x Meal: Chicken Different American Comfort
2x Meal: Enchiladas Mexican
Crock Pot: St. Patrick's Day Meal (Cornbeef, Cabbage & Potatoes) Specialty
30 min meal: Lasagna Toss Italian
Other: Grilled Reuben Sandwhiches Sandwich/Other
So that is the basic Idea. But here are a few additional tips I consider:
-Ingredients. When picking my meals I think: which perishable items are needed? Then pick multiple meals that use them. If I am using sour cream in my enchiladas, then I might pick a meal with baked potatoes or something else that requires sour cream, etc.
-Any chance I get I "multi task". So if I am cooking noodles, I make double and freeze the rest in a ziplock bag. Then the next meal needing noodles I only have to heat them in the microwave and they are ready in minutes. If a recipe calls for cooked chicken, I cook double and freeze the rest...saving time for the next time a recipe needs cooked chicken.
-What is on sale: Looking at the adds, if something is on a great sale that week, I choose a recipe to accomidate.
-Flexibility: Often something comes up, something is on sale, I have extra ingredients I need to use up, etc. Well, I just shift the meals around. That is what is so convenient with a weekly and monthly plan. Non perishable ingredients can be saved and only buy the perishable the week needed.
Here are some other meal planning sheets to try:
Meal Planning Sheet A
Meal Planning Sheet B