Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Menu Planning

I started planning our meals a week at a time for many of the usual reasons

1. saving time and money by making one big trip to the store rather than daily trips
2. having more variety in our meals
3. finally forcing myself to try all those recipes I've ripped out of magazines or printed off the Internet
4. I give each member of the family one night every week where they pick the meal.

The last reason serves two purposes. I only have to come up with 4 meal ideas a week instead of 7. But more importantly, I only make one dinner each night and everyone eats it. If you don't like it, too bad, I'm not heating up chicken nuggets, just cause they don't like coq au vin. Eat the pasta and the salad and at the very least try everything on your plate. My oldest daughter has discovered that pretty much anything is edible if she sprinkles some garlic salt on it. My youngest is still finicky but once in a while surprises me. She says she doesn't like creamy sauces but cleaned her plate of hamburger stroganoff the other day.

The rules are that you have to pick a protein, a starch and a vegetable (or a meal that includes all 3). No repeating something we already had that week, or repeating what you picked the week prior. The kid choices can be a little tricky especially for my youngest daughter. When we first started this she would pick chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and carrots. She pretty much goes through a rotation of tortellini, baked ziti, and tacos, but sometimes she surprises me. This week she has asked for Bee Bim Bop.

Before menu planning we ate chicken almost every night because it's quick and easy, and most nights I wouldn't think about what to make for dinner until I opened the fridge to start making it. Since I'm not a very creative cook and still rely heavily on cookbooks, we had a lot of repeated or very similar meals.

I keep track of what we ate on my calendar which has the added benefit that if I have leftovers in the fridge, it's very easy to figure out how old they are, just check the calendar.


  1. Meal planning saves so much time and money...it's a life saver for me! Have you checked out www.Pinterest.com yet? It's like having a binder for all of those magazine pages you rip out, but online. You can check out my "Foods I Must Consume" board...there are tons of recipes!

    Hope it helps...your newest follower,

    Jessica @ Mom 4 Real

  2. A friend of mine suggested I try Pinterest as she gets lots of recipe and craft ideas from it. I'm a little afraid though. Facebook and blogging are already consuming more of my time than they should, I'm not sure if I should be starting something else :)

    Having said that I did check out some of the recipes you pinned and have bookmarked the Charleston Cheese Dip. Sounds ridiculously decadent and probably perfect for our upcoming Super Bowl party. I may do a test this weekend since I already have all the ingredients.


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