Meal Planning 101

I'm on a meal planning kick, and I want to keep the momentum going!  After investing in this handy dandy little kickstarter cookbook (worth every penny), researching meal planning, finding templates that work for our family, implementing said system, and spending Sunday nights mapping out the week - our meal planning adventure is off and running!

Some of our tips and tricks:

+ Prior to kicking off our meal planning, I spent a few weeks bookmarking our favorite (easy) weeknight dinners.  I perused my favorite cookbooks that had been collecting dust, pinned my favorite recipes on Pinterest, and saved all the links in a google drive spreadsheet, categorizing them by their main ingredient; i.e. fish, pork, veggie, etc.

+ On Sunday mornings/afternoons, my husband and I plan out of meals for the coming week.  We take into account nights out (i.e. curriculum night for me, dinner out with the boys for him, etc.).  We take into account everything: not only dinners, lunches, breakfast, snacks, and food for our baby, and create our portions accordingly to add to our shopping list.  This also helps us stick to our budget as we're not making multiple trips to the store for ingredients throughout the week.

+ We plan for certain foods.  For example, fish goes earlier in the week, as it doesn't have as long a shelf life in the fridge.  Apply this wisdom to other finicky ingredients that may not hold up 5+ days without wilting to the point of inedible.  If we for some reason need to do fish on a Friday, we add a note that this requires a separate trip to the grocery store to pick up said ingredient.

+ Before we make the shopping list, we scour the pantry to ensure we don't buy duplicates of any ingredients.  No one needs 2 more cans of chicken broth when we already have 6 chilling on the shelf.  

+ Take turns.  We alternate who does the cooking.  My husband prefers to grill over bake.  I prefer to bake and saute over grill.  We trade off, we share the load.  It works.

+ Make and plan enough for leftovers.  This ensures lunch is taken care of for our work day, one less meal to plan lightens the stress significantly.  

So now that I've wet your appetite, I'd love to hear - what are your favorite weeknight recipes?  Or "go-to" recipes.  As two full time working parents, we want to provide the staple of a consistent weeknight dinner for our daughter as she grows up, but we recognize we're not Julia Child, nor will we ever be whipping up coq au vin Monday nights like it ain't no thang.   

So...tell me.  What are your favorite weeknight recipes?



birdie to be said...

Love these tips! Can't wait to get back into this routine!

Mary said...

Good tips, and never take for granted having a man who shares the cooking duties! I go through phases for sure, and I'm sure you will too as your kids get older. This post contains a lot of our favorite family dinners:

Lindsay said...

I don't know how people survive without meal planning! We save so much money that way and never waste food. Your tips are great. We do pretty much the same and we always try to have 1-2 crock pot meals a week (usually pulled chicken sandwiches or marinara chicken). And Friday night is always homemade pizza night!

Ashlee Gadd said...

You are inspiring me.....meal planning is going to be the death of me. Oy.

Anderson Shenanigans said...

My new best friend is my pressure cooker! Creamy risotto on a weeknight (in minutes) without the constant stirring; I can put away laundry or do something else productive while dinner cooks. My mom's cousin is teaching a class at the PCC for pressure cooking, if you are ever interested.

heather{land} said...

Thanks for the links! It's ok my to-do list to go through all my mags and tear out the recipes to keep and do a filing system. On a side note, we buy meat and fish in bulk at Costco and then portion it out, then freeze pack it with out food saver (life saver!)! ER take it out in the am before work and it is thawed by dinner prep time!

heather{land} said...

*on my to-do list

Sarah Alway said...

I desperately need to get organized and do something like this. My husband refuses to meal plan, shop, or cook, so it's all on me (but trust me, he handles other horrible chores that I want no part of! LOL). Keeping us fed while going back to work with an infant at home has been incredibly overwhelming. I may follow your lead and try some of these resources and tips!