A few days ago, I posted a picture of the schedule that I have been working on for myself. I’ll share more about that tomorrow and include a challenge for you – yay! (Did you know that “schedule” is NOT a four-letter word? I think many people feel that way about one. But more on that tomorrow!)
So today – according to my new schedule – is menu planning day. I set aside an hour for that, but it took a little less than that to plan and prepare a grocery list. I took a quick “inventory” of my pantry and freezer before I made this meal plan and list. I mean, why spend money if you don’t have to, right?
Thursday is payday and that’s when I get my grocery money for the week. I budget $100 – $125, depending on whether I need money for the Fresh Market’s $2.99 Tuesday meat sale that week. My plan is to do my grocery shopping early on Friday morning right after my morning walk. (I walk at 6:30 am; you get to see amazing sunrises if you do that!) This is a test to see if that’s a better time to shop. Friday afternoon…definitely NOT! If Friday mornings aren’t it either, then I’ll try another day.
Anyway, here’s what’s on the dinner menu for Thursday – Wednesday.
*Thursday – Leftovers (always – Mama needs a night off!)
*Friday – Slow Cooker Bacon Ranch Chicken, Pasta, Broccoli or Cabbage (or both!)
*Saturday – Taco Soup, Tortilla Chips, CHEESE (and a dollop of sour cream for me!)
*Sunday – Baked Spaghetti, Corn on the Cob, Bread/Rolls (Since Sunday is a work day for me, I’ll prep the baked spaghetti on Saturday so it will just need to be popped in the oven and cooked on Sunday)
*Monday – Bacon Cheddar Cauliflower Soup, Cornbread Muffins
*Tuesday – “Alice Springs Chicken” (like at Outback), Mashed Potatoes (w/ garlic & herb butter), Peas or Green Beans
*Wednesday – Slow Cooker Smothered Pork Chops, Rice, Roasted Veggies (cauliflower, carrots, butternut squash)
We eat leftovers or sandwiches for lunches. Thursday nights are basically for cleaning out the fridge. If there are leftovers after leftover night, I will usually freeze them in individual serving sizes for something quick for lunch or when the plan doesn’t work out. (By the way, it doesn’t always work out.)
Breakfasts are pretty much an “on your own” kind of deal around here. If I’m feeling particularly kind, I’ll make breakfast on Saturday. I have been making breakfast muffins for the week that can be microwaved or put in the toaster oven and heated. Hubby leaves for work at 4:30 in the morning. I love him, but I’m not likely to get up and fix him breakfast. Sorry. He’s not a big breakfast eater, anyway, so I hope his feelings aren’t hurt. smile emoticon
I use an online meal planner, but really all you need to do is sit down with a couple of cookbooks or cooking magazines (not your entire collection), your calendar (so you can see what days are your busiest), and a piece of paper. Oh, and a pen or pencil!
Be sure to include at least one night for leftovers if your family will eat them. You can see that I use my Crock-Pot Slow Cooker as often as possible! Best kitchen appliance ever. Ever, I say! On those busiest of days, it’s awfully nice to walk into a great smelling house with dinner simmering away.
If you’ve never meal planned before or if you’re not used to cooking at home, plan 4-5 simple meals, a leftover night, and a night to eat out/carry out. Start with what you feel you can REALLY accomplish and go from there. Don’t plan seven elaborate meals and then feel disappointed in yourself and give up. Please. Pretty please.
Cooking from scratch really isn’t hard…and it’s easier on the pocket book than eating out. And easier on the body that processed, pre-made foods. (Though there are days when that’s just what happens and it’s okay.) Having a couple of hours on Saturday or Sunday afternoon to do a little prepping (chopping veggies, mixing marinades, etc.) also helps reduce stress during the week.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! I’d love to help you with your meal planning!