Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I know I am not the only one to struggle with planning meals. With cooking everything from scratch, using whole foods, and cooking with food that is in season, it has become even harder. Add to that being pregnant and the whole question of what sounds good at the moment :) I am lucky we have dinner.

Yesterday I focused on meal planning. It started writing down ideas while on the treadmill. Really. Then I looked through a few extra healthy cookbooks for ideas and came up with all sorts of dinners and put them into a handful of categories. I included an abbreviation for the cookbook and the page number for dinners that require a recipe to save time later.) I included lists of side dishes and vegetable dishes so I don't just serve everything with brown rice and a salad. :) That page was such a mess that I copied it later neatly into my current Everything Book. Should make next month's work go a lot faster.

I then got out my calender for the rest of the month and drew a grid for the rest of the month on a separate paper. I wrote in the upcoming activities that will affect our dinners: my dinner out with a friend, Bunco, the Whole Heart Conference at the end of the month. I then wrote in a categories of dinners at the top of the chart according to the days of the week.

For now:

Sundays- Soup
Mondays- New Dish/Fish
Tuesdays - Crockpot
Wednesdays- American/English/Grill/Misc.
Thursdays- Mediterranean or Chinese
Friday- Easy or Leftovers
Saturday- Italian or Mexican

I seem to have difficulty with Tuesday night dinners. For quite awhile I would end up having Sweetheart just pick something up on the way home. Now that I know it is a tougher day for me, usually because we are gone that day, I have decided that's when it makes the most sense to use the crockpot/slow cooker. This is also good because Tuesday is when my Bunco group meets once a month and I hate rushing around cooking and trying to get out the door as soon as Sweetheart get home. :) Took me long enough to figure this out.

Friday night is Movie Night here and the end of the week, so I have decided to take it easy. Smart move since the boys are usually so excited to watch a movie that they don't care what they eat. Easy dinners include leftovers, Bakeovers, hot sandwiches, or breakfast for dinner.

The New Dish/Fish idea is so that I don't fall in a rut cooking. Twice a month I will try something new and the other times we will have fish. The boys and I like fish, but it isn't Sweetheart's favorite. Twice a month should be a good balance.

The next step was to just fill in the blanks in my chart. I actually had enough recipes in each category to make sure that we were alternating red meat, chicken, pork and fish and not having chicken five nights in one week, which has totally happened. I like chicken, what can I say! I especially like it when it is $1.88/lb. I was even able to study what should go with the main dish and use a variety of side dishes and vegetables. We'll have brown rice, barley, quinoa, couscous, pasta, polenta, beans and grain salads.

I did add an extra crockpot dinner for when I am at the Whole Heart Conference. I will prep it before I leave on that Friday morning and Sweetheart will be able to just dish it all up that evening. I planned enough for the Saturday dinner since I doubt I will want to cook that night. I also marked a night for Chickfila for dinner one other night when I will be gone. I have lost the taste for it, but the guys will all be happy.

After reviewing the rest of the month, I wrote each meal onto the weekly planner on the fridge. I then wrote out the grocery list. I was able to do the bulk of the shopping for the rest of the month this morning. I stocked up knowing what I will need for the rest of the month. I am tired now, but glad most of the work, and thinking about the work, is done.

I need to go prep out the meats according to the meals and get them all into the freezer. I plan to also prep my veggies. Outside of three apples and a bunch of bananas, the fruit we eat this time of year is stuff I put up this summer and fall, dried or frozen. The fresh veggies last quite awhile when they are washed and wrapped right. I also have a lot of veggies I canned and froze to supplement.

Wish me luck!


Bonnie said...

I'm impressed! Dinner here has been changing at the last minute lately...

Kate said...

Fortunately, I cook for one :), but find I still have the same dilema. I stopped at the store last night and tried plan for the week...never seems to work for me. I suppose planning outside the store is best. I saw a crock pot cookbook at the register and splurged 'cause I have a crockpot now and have no idea what to make in it.
I love how organized you are. I'm trying to get that way, thinking outside myself for the day others come along. :)
Have a lovely day!


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