Hi guys! Today I thought I’d share a post of how I do my weekly meal-planning to encourage anyone else out there that could use a little organizational help in this area.
I do my meal-planning and shopping once a week. Some people do better planning for 2 weeks at a time, or even a full month. I think the key is to do what works for you.
About a year ago, I started this little binder for meal planning and grocery lists. It’s just a pretty 3 ring binder with side pockets on the inside.
I have it filled with a stack of meal planning/grocery list charts which I downloaded and printed free. Check out THIS ONE from Project Girl ~ it’s one of my favorites, along with THIS ONE.
There are dozens of these printable lists all over the internet (just google it in images) and some allow for planning two weeks or a month at a time. But I just liked this one for its simplicity.
Meals on one side, grocery list on the other. When I am done planning, I tear it in half, and I hang up my meal plan on my fridge and put the grocery list in my purse.
I also keep lined paper behind my meal and grocery planning sheets, because it always seems I’m making other lists or jotting down reminders to myself when I sit down to plan my week’s meals.
Anyway, here is my binder opened up.
You can see that the pockets in front and back are perfect for stashing cooking magazines and printed recipes I want to try. Sometimes I find something new and I just stick it in the back so when I sit to plan the next week’s meals, I am reminded that there is a new recipe I wanted to try, and the ingredient list is right there in front of me. In that way, it’s sort of a running recipe organizer too. However, once I make the recipe, I then shove it in my giant recipe binder. So at any given time, there are no more than 15 or so recipes and one or two current cooking magazines in this planner.
I have to be honest and say I am not really making a lot of new and time-consuming recipes these days. Life has just been too nuts. If fact, about the only thing that has kept me sane is this binder and my little rotating schedule of meals.
Here’s basically what I rotate each week, though the meal does not always match the day:
So the first thing I do is write in the meals I am planning on the left side of the planning sheet.
In fact, the first thing I would recommend anyone to do if they want to get their meal-planning organized, is to choose your go-to meals and start a rotation. It doesn’t have to be boring, and you can rotate between 10-20 of your family’s favorites.
These are simply the ones that work for us right now, but I bet some of you would also enjoy a similar meal rotation, and maybe this one looks a bit like your own…
So here we go:
Another thing I did last year that helped SO MUCH was that I canned my own marinara to get us through winter–I made 30 quarts of that goodness, and so each week, I was able to pull one can from my own shelf, add whatever pasta I wanted, and my meal was done. This year, I plan on canning 60 quarts because we ran out sometime in February. 🙁
There is nothing like homemade marinara sauce, people. My kids eat it room temperature, right out of the jar by the spoonful it’s so good.
SOUP / SALAD NIGHT
Soups and salads are always at LEAST once a week because they are so easy and of course, healthy too. There are a ton of different salads I love and I’m always trying new recipes and homemade dressings. Pair a delicious salad with a hearty bowl of soup and who needs meat?
|Asian Chop Chop|
We probably make some type of bean soup every single week because its my kids’ favorite thing to eat. Makes lunch the next day a snap too–many soups taste better reheated. There are SO MANY great soups out there, and most come together quick (less than 30 min) and are easy peasy. If you have picky eaters, consider purees and bisques. Your kids won’t even know they are slurping down so many veggies.
This is our family’s all time-favorite bisque.
BREAKFAST FOR DINNER NIGHT
In our family, we ALL love breakfast so much, that a while back, we just started having it once a week for dinner too. I like to mix this one up…we always have eggs, but I rotate the sweet part (french toast one week, pancakes the next). Sometimes I do egg sandwiches too, which we all enjoy.
When we want to kick it up a notch, I do up my version of Pittsburgh’s famous Gab’N’Eat sandwich. This might just be my husband’s favorite sandwich ever. SO GOOD.
GRILL OUT NIGHT
Don’t have time to make your own pizza dough?
Pay a visit to your favorite pizza shop and buy a dough ball or two from them–makes like so easy, and seriously–WHAT an affordable dinner–most pizza places sell their dough ball for $1-$3 each. You just can’t beat that.
|Pizzas, fresh from the grill…Mmmm|
NEW RECIPE NIGHT
Again, since the recipes I am interested in trying are already stashed in my binder, I just pick out one that I want to try that week and I jot down the missing ingredients on my shopping list. Preparing for new recipes takes a bit more time–browsing through cookbooks, magazines or online printed recipes, but it’s no big deal since I limit myself to one a week right now.
When we do go out, we try to keep the bill around or under $30 for our family of 6. So honestly, we’re pretty limited where we can go (Mexican, Pizza, Eat n Park).
Well, there you have it. This little meal rotation and meal-planning binder is how I’m staying afloat right now with everything else going on around here.
I’d love to know what works for you when it comes to cooking for your family, so please pass along any helpful tips in the comments!
Happy Meal Planning!
*Today’s post is an edited repost from the 2012 archives.*