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Meal Planning 101

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It’s time to lean how to meal plan. Do you ever feel like your family eats the same things for dinner over and over?  When you cook a meal does your family complain and say “But we just had that!” 

Do you find yourself dreading to think of something to cook for dinner?  Is it stressing you out?  I used to have this problem but let me tell you, I have changed my ways!  And you can too!

This is what you need to do:  get a notepad or a planner.  I just happened upon an actual Meal Planning Journal one day while I was browsing through Amazon.  It is nice but not necessary. 

You can totally do this with just a regular notebook.   It took me seeing that Meal Planning Journal for sale on Amazon though for me to open my eyes and say “I can do this!”

I started by writing out two weeks’ worth of meals.  I sat down and thought of at least twelve different things that I know how to make.  We usually eat out on Friday nights, so I left my “Friday” space blank, but for every other day of the week, I wrote down something (Monday night – spaghetti, Tuesday night – tacos, etc. etc.) 

On the opposite page was a space for a grocery list, organized into sections – frozen, produce, bakery, meats, deli, and other.  Then I wrote down every single grocery item that I needed to make those twelve meals and voila!  I had my meals planned for two whole weeks!  It only took about 30 minutes or so to do this.

This meal plan is from a couple of weeks ago:  I think I should get an A+ for organization, an A+ for effective planning, and a C- for penmanship.  🙂

The next day I went to the store and bought everything on the list, spent less than I thought I would, and had enough groceries in the house to feed my family of five for two weeks!  It was a glorious feeling!  I was feeling like Supermom if I do say so myself. 

I introduced my family to the plan, laid our menu out on the counter for all to see, and it was (much to my relief) very well received.  They all loved it.  The menu ends all discussion over dinner.  There is no “Mom, what’s for supper?” in that real whiny kid voice that we all know and love hate. 

There is no “I don’t want that.  Fix something else.”  Nope.  Not an option.  That’s what the menu says we are having and no one questions it.  The menu is my new best friend.

meal plan

Now, the really awesome part:  Each week I try to add in a new item.  I usually cruise Pinterest or other websites and find a new recipe that looks like something my husband and kids will actually eat.  At our house, we don’t do complicated. 

We do easy, kid-friendly, with some healthy thrown in here and there.  Now, that I have been meal planning for a few months, I can read back over my past menus to help me remember my family favorites and see how long it has been since I served a specific item.  I have found that I suddenly have a much longer list of what I can cook.

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Tuesday 2nd of April 2013

Can you tell me who makes your meal planning notebook? I have searched the web high and low and can't find anything quite like that. I really want a spiral bound version (not a printable or a notepad). That looks awesome- but I can't find it! Thanks!

Dawn Cox

Friday 29th of March 2013

I loved this article! Great ideas! Even with just my husband and I these days, we get tired of eating the same old stuff. I am not good at planning ahead! A meal planning journal may be just the "push" I need in the right direction for some relief in the kitchen and some savings in my pocket book too! Thanks, Beth!

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