Friday, July 15, 2011

A Plan for Preparations


As I sat down to plan out our meals for this week, I looked at the dining table and realized that I do have a method to my madness, although someone walking in to the dining room at that moment would not be able to make sense of what was happening.

I thought I would break it down today with a list of everything I had on the table and the steps I take in preparing our meal plan for the week.

On the table were:
  • my ever trusty notebook (I will always be a stationary type girl no matter how "high tech" our world becomes)
  • the family calendar
  • our meal plan calendar (a gift from GrandTiti since she knows how much I love paper and planning)
  • Several recipe books
The first important thing I noticed about preparing a meal plan was making sure that our calendar is consistently up to date.  Brian's ball games (his team finished the season before playoffs in 1st place! This week begins the playoffs.), play dates, planned visits by friends, day trips that we may take, different types of appointments, library time, craft time at Michael's, Brian's hair cut with the Dads, and date nights.

Making sure these things are filled in helps to determine how much time I will have during the day to prep our meals, which nights I can experiment with new recipes, if I need to plan a slow cooker meal, which nights would be good for left overs because of time crunches, which nights I have to keep the meals simple and light (running bases on a full, heavy stomach is not an easy thing), and which nights I don't need to cook for.

Another important step for me is to make sure that my Supercook account is also accurately updated.  Supercook is a free online resource that generates recipes from across the web using the ingredients you currently have in your freezer, refridgerator, and pantry.  It also finds recipes that use what you have but may require one or two more ingredients.  A wonderful resource which helps keep grocery costs down.

With these steps taken care of, I am then able to write out our weekly meal plan and grocery list simultaneously.  Presently, I do have next week's plan and a tentative plan for the following week as well.  This also enables me to keep an eye out for sales and coupons on the items I need to complete my up coming meals.  Of course, I am always on the look out for amazing deals from my favorite stores to keep my pantry well stocked and ready for the Supercook challenge.

Here is what our meal plan looked like this week and what next week's plan looks like.

Monday- Sausage with Tangy Cararway Cabbage
Tuesday- Spaghetti Sauce Italiano with Pasta (slow cooker recipe from Better Homes and Gardens  
               cookbook)
Wednesday-Baked sweet potatoes with chicken
Thursday- Mexican Meatball Soup
Friday- Spaghetti Sauce Italiano with Pasta leftovers
Saturday- Leftover night (we are not big on wasting leftover food)
Sunday- Dad's night (not sure if we will see him because Addie has been under the weather and there is a 
              chance we may go out)
Monday- Chicken Bruschette Pasta (recipe on the Kraft Cooking Creme tub)
Tuesday- Shepherd's Pie
Wednesday- Healthy Gumbo
Thursday- Slow Cooked Mac and Cheese with a side of chicken
Friday- Creamy Broccoli Pasta with a side of chicken
Saturday- Leftover night

There are so many ways to plan your family's meals.  My friend Pam recently told me of another great plan.  By choosing one day a week for a specific type of meal (slow cooker, casserole, salad, etc.), you always know what types of meals to be on the look out for.  I like that idea, too.

My friend Kristi plans her meals our for a month at a time (she is my hero!) and has her meal plan and recipes organized in a binder so that her recipes aren't repeated too closely together and she is able to make notations as to which recipes she needs to make more often because they were a hit or which recipes may not get a second chance.

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