I've been a little MIA on the blog for a bit, and I blame some complications with a root canal I had several weeks ago. Up until a couple days ago I didn't feel like my usual self and was having severe pain in my jaw and pretty much constant headaches. Pain killers made me sick and all problems combined resulted in lack of sleep...and lack of energy to do anything. However, I'm back in the game and grateful to be feeling better!
I have people ask me occassionally how I do my meal planning and thought I would give you guys an example of what I do most weeks. Now, keep in mind it's just the two of us so our quantities may be smaller, but the same principles apply to larger families. Meal planning for me goes something like this:
1. Anyone who knows me knows I coupon! You're going to get your best deals by combining the sales for the week with coupons. As a good rule of thumb, keep in mind that the products on the front and back page of your sales ad are the best deals for the week most of the time. Also, a lot of couponers and frugal moms will tell you to buy whatever meat is 99 cents per pound or less for the week.
So, long story short: base your meals on what's ON SALE. The store dictates your menu, NOT your kids :)
2. I consider what I already have in my kitchen. I look for things that are about to expire and use them up so they don't go to waste! This is especially true for those of you who stockpile items through couponing.
3. Combine what you bought and what you already have and plan your meals! I most often use allrecipes because their ingredient search makes it easy to find a recipe that uses the specific ingredients you're trying to work with. Most weeks I try to do one crockpot meal and at least one meat-free dinner.
4. I type up my menu for the week, including main dish and side items (and dessert if I am so inclined). This menu along with the individual recipes get printed up and posted on the fridge so hubby knows what to expect for dinner (I will eventually begin training him on how he can look at the pages and figure out how to help :) )
5. This is the super important, super helpful part. I look at each night's dinner plan and decide if there's anything I can do ahead of time to make that night's work easier. For example, I will often go ahead and cut the week's worth of onions/peppers on Sunday, brown up ground beef for spaghetti later in the week, etc. I will make notes for each night on what I'm cooking, and what prep work I need to do for later. This includes putting frozen meat in the fridge to thaw. How many times have you forgotten to thaw out some chicken for dinner and ended up getting pizza? Been there, done that. All prep work is marked with a "*"
That being said, here's my plan for this week. This week's a little different because I don't have to cook for three nights. Tuesday nights are when Adam goes to class so sometimes I will go ahead and cook so we have leftovers for lunch the next day, but this week I know we will still have lots of the chicken soup left, so I will just be doing prep work. Friday and Saturday night I'm off the hook because Adam has planned a surprise trip to who-knows-where for my birthday! Very excited, but until then, here's what I have in store:
Chicken and tortellini soup
garlic bread (using french bread from freezer)
*cut onion and pepers for frittata
*boil eggs for breakfast
*thaw white beans
*thaw 2 cups chicken stock
*thaw chicken breasts
*cook and shred chicken breasts
Southwestern Chicken and white bean soup (put in crock pot in the morning)
Turkey smoked sausage frittata
Off the hook- birthday trip!
Off the hook- birthday trip!
And that's how it's done! Trust me, planning ahead like this will totally relieve some of that stress that comes along with figuring out a way to get dinner on the table every night. If anyone is interested in seeing menu plans more often to see how I plan ahead, just let me know and I can do this more often. I'll at least try posting a week's plan where I have to cook every night, because that's more typical.