I don't know that I'm at my clearest at 3am, but here goes.
Things I love about planning meals for a month:
- I am in the kitchen a THIRD of the time I was before.
- We're not eating out HALF as much because if I don't follow the meal plan, food will go to waste.
- I never stand at the freezer at 3pm wondering what's for dinner.
- Lunches are fast, varied, and easy.
- I found that I'm able to plan multiple meals at the same time knowing what we'll be having in the future. For instance, I was making tacos right alongside sloppy joes. I froze the sloppy joes and it literally took no extra time. I did the same thing with my mini turkey meatloaves and teriyaki turkey meatballs.
- I am able to plan EXACTLY enough food for two dinners without trying to make to little or too much food last an extra day.
- Halfway through doing this, we decided to try a gluten free diet for our daughter. That has put stress on me, the budget and our meal plan, but we've been able to adapt well. I'm looking forward to planning next month gluten/diary free from the beginning.
- If one of the kids is unhappy with something I've planned, they're stuck with it for the week.
- I think Matt is getting tired of eating certain foods that I prepare with the girls in mind, i.e. everything in my quiche cups was chopped so small in the processor for the girls you could barely distinguish the texture as separate from the eggs.
How I do it:
- Have a master meal list. I generally will search meals I've saved on food.com, pinterest.com, and here on my blog for things we like and normally eat.
- Print a blank calendar (I just googled and formatted in word) and select one breakfast and one (or two) lunch ideas for each week. I select one dinner for every two days as we will eat leftovers around here.
- As you're making your meal plan on your calendar, start a shopping list, keeping track of how many pounds of everything that you'll need for the month. YOU WILL BE OVERWHELMED BY THE AMOUNT YOU SPEND ON GROCERIES THAT FIRST WEEK!
- Have freezer paper, ziplock backs, and glass containers available to freeze when you're able to bulk-cook.
- On Sunday afternoons, I will grill chicken, pack individual oatmeal bags, etc to prepare for the week.
- I don't go based on what's on sale. I'll go to Sam's Club to buy in bulk and Aldi for produce during subsequent weeks. I coupon when I'm able to do so based on what I've planned.
- As I mentioned, I do have to shop weekly for produce. I just haven't found a way around that!
This has freed up SO much time and eliminated SO MUCH STRESS! It is also better for the budget and portion control!