Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Meal Planning Pt. 2 How I plan my meals

Reading through Once a Month Cooking  made me reevaluate how I planned our meals and how I shopped.  I had always planned and shopped by the week but often times wouldn't stick to the plan.  So when I first started planning by the month, I planned for two weeks.  That worked for me because we had enough flex to be able to shift the meals throughout the two weeks.  I then branched out to planning a whole month.  It took me almost two hours because I sat down with all my cookbooks and a pencil and proceeded to get overwhelmed. 

I had so many recipes that I liked and so many ones that I wanted to try.  I finally had to realize that there were only so many days a month and I decided to try only a few new recipes a month.  Our family also has favorites that we have once a month.
I loved the principles in the book but when I began to plan our meals, I realized how many simple meals that we make that would not freeze and Jon is not a huge fan of most casseroles.  I also did not like cooking once a month because I love to cook.   So I adapted the strategy for our household.  I make our plan on an Outlook calendar with the recipe location underneath the name.  The photo at the start is our actual December menu.  Then I write out my list of ingredients needed, go shopping (hopefully) every two weeks, and when I do make a meal that freezes, I try to make a double batch.  One meal is frozen for a night in the future (a lot of my December meals are actually in the freezer since our schedule is a little more hectic).  We also are flexible and not rigid about our plans.  There are days that what was planned early in the month does not sound appealing at the end of the month.  Some meals leave more leftovers and some meals don't leave as many as I thought.   We adapt the plans to fit our needs. 

If meal time preparation is hectic for you, I challenge you to think about planning your meals at least for two weeks and then maybe branch out to a whole month.  The important thing is to find what works in your household to keep meals less stressful and less time consuming.  If you have something that works, please feel free to share!

Here are a few other menu planning helps.

Planning The Menu Magnetic Note Pad

The Weekly Feeder

Money Saving Mom

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