I cannot even begin to tell you how helpful and handy last months meal planning system was. We came down with colds again (I am so over this whole cold and flu season!), but I didn't have to worry about what my family was going to be eating for dinner, even with me feeling horrible and not wanting to do much.
Because I had precooked, prepackaged and frozen almost all of our meals for the month, I only had to remember to pull things out of the freezer for them to thaw.
I plan on doing the same this month for our meals. However, since there is still one week left in February, my plan will cover five weeks instead of four. As I did last month, my goal is to double or triple recipes as I cook them and freeze one or two for its designated week.
Part of my reasoning for meal planning this way is to save money while purchasing my ingredients. While making my grocery list I check to see what ingredients I already have on hand in my pantry and then try to make meals that use my on hand ingredients. I then make the rest of my list based on the remaining ingredients needed for my meals.
Next, I look through my favorite couponing websites to see which ingredients will be on sale where. Sometimes, my shopping trip will take me to three different stores, which is fine with me as long as the gas to get to each store isn't more than what I am saving.
Coupons are cut and sorted and then I'm off to the store alone. The kids are great while I shop, but I tend to be more alert to what I am trying to do when I shop alone.
Here are our meals for the next five weeks. But please keep in mind that although everything is planned out, it is not set in stone. There may be nights when I switch things up because of guests or being invited to some one's home. This plan is just for my own peace of mind and gives me one less thing to think about. If I have to skip a night, it just means that I have a meal ready for another night.
Weeks One, Three, and Five
Monday- Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole with chicken
Tuesday- Rice and Spanish Beans with a side of chicken
Thursday- Chicken Taco Soup
Friday- Shepherd's Pie
Weeks Two and Four
Monday- Crockpot Chicken Chili
Tuesday- Chicken and Rice Bake
Thursday- Pork and Veggies
Friday- Chicken Sweet Potato Stew
Right now, my freezer has 2 Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casseroles, 2 containers of homemade Spanish beans, a container or brown rice, 2 packages of seasoned chicken, and 3 Ziplocs of Chicken Taco Soup.
I spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen yesterday, but I don't have to for the rest of the week. And I don't have to wash all of those dishes that are made from cooking each of those meals individually. That in itself is worth the time and effort.