Saturday, July 14, 2012

Meal Planning 101

I've had some questions from people lately about how I meal plan.  First off, let me tell you that what works for me, may not work for you!  I have learned by trial and error.

Someone told me right when Tyler and I got married that I should meal plan.  I was like, "Huh? What's that?"  My mom didn't meal plan, but she was a stay at home momma (which I'm SOOO thankful for) and at least had a bit of time to think about meals.  Ask her that and she might have a different answer for you. :]  My mom is pretty much Wonder-woman, though (and my dad is Super-man...but that is a post for another day)!

So when I got to thinking about meal planning, I had no idea where to even start.  I started by writing down a list of the meals that we frequently eat and like.  From there, I just started penciling in meals for each day of the week.  I would write my grocery list from the meal planner and go from there.

When we moved to St. Louis I had some time to really get organized.  I made a calendar on Excel and I just print it off each month and fill in the dates.  I only plan suppers because Tyler and I both take our lunches to work.  Occasionally, I'll plan breakfast like it did with the Easy Egg Breakfast Casserole, but not too often because Tyler isn't a breakfast person.

It's on the weekends that I have time to sit down and plan meals for the next week.  I tend to go grocery shopping on Tuesday or Wednesday night since The Bachelorette is on Monday nights. :]  I know, priorities! 

I sit down with my Excel meal planner calendar, the family calendar, my list of meals, which has now become the "quick fix meal" list, as well as my cookbooks or recipes I've found on Pinterest that I want to try.  As you all are familiar with, I try to make one new recipe a week to share with you as Friday's Fabulous Foods!  Some weeks it doesn't happen, though.

I will begin my filling in my meal planner with any weekends we will be gone or nights that we have supper plans elsewhere.  This helps eliminate nights that I don't have to cook on and makes it easier to plan.  I do try to use the foods in my pantry, so I will make recipes using those ingredients.  This also helps with our budget.  

I write my grocery list based on the meals I've planned.  I only buy what is on the grocery list, and I try to use the foods we already have.  I tend to only shop for a week's worth of food at a time, sometimes a little more.  This week, in preparation of freezer cooking (see below), I shopped for 3 weeks worth of food at a time.

I tend to "pencil in" our meals because things can come up during the week, in which I have to rearrange meals or move a meal to the next week.

This past week, I decided to try freezer cooking.  I've been reading a ton of blogs and doing some research.  I've heard nothing but good things about it.  Pinterest has been a big help, as I have pinned a ton of freezer cooking ideas.  Feel free to follow my board if you need ideas.  I found quite a few recipes to try, and I will give you those recipes later in another post.  They were super easy, and now all I have to do is stick them in the crockpot on the day we're going to eat them!

I hope to do some more freezer cooking today, but this time with some breakfast burritos, chicken soft tacos, marinated chicken, and meatballs.  I'll have to let you know how it goes!

If you still have questions after reading this post, please leave me a comment.  I'll try to have a follow-up with all your answers!  And if I don't know the answer, I'll do a little research!

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