weekly meal planning

Monday, February 25, 2013

Have you ever wondered what you were going to make for dinner? Did you ever feel stuck or so hungry you couldn't even think about dinner? If you no longer want to figure out what to do for lunch/dinner each day or if you are interested in saving some money meal planning may just be what you need.

The concept is planning out in advance the meals for each week and do all of your shopping for the week on one day. Some do it bi-weekly and even monthly. For produce and things I find it a LOT of work to do it monthly not to mention the prep work but if you think about it one shopping trip per month is pretty amazing. Maybe one day I will do it to try it and then let you know how it went.

In the mean time I can help you with planning for each week or every two weeks. First thing you want to do is grab some recipes and/or search for some recipes that are budget friendly. Making recipes that involve $20 cheese or the best cuts of meat don't work with this kind of thing.

Here are some ideas from meals we use:

  • Pizza casserole
  • Tacos
  • Steamed veggies, rice and chicken
  • Spaghetti and garlic bread/salad
  • Chicken tortilla soup
  • Chili
  • Hoppin' Johns
  • Chicken and broccoli alfredo
  • Irish Skillet
  • Huevos Rancheros with tortillas
  • Chicken Cacciatore with salad
  • BBQ Chicken and corn on the cob
Unless you have a couple dozen recipes you will run into a stage of repetition which in the long run will discourage you from meal planning. Because of this I recommend assigning each day of the week to a type of cuisine, for example: Mexican Mondays, Italian Tuesdays, etc. To help not waste any money or food we include Finish it up Fridays where we eat up and make meals out of left overs.

Here is our day of the week list:
  • All American Sundays
  • Mexican Mondays
  • Potato Tuesdays (helps stretch the budget by eating a potato based meal)
  • Crockpot Wednesdays
  • Italian Thursdays
  • Finish it up Fridays
  • Asian Saturdays
You will cook each evening unless you have enough gusto to cook a couple days in advanced. Otherwise you cook each dinner and then your left overs are what you will have for lunch the next day; we normally have enough left overs for Mom and Dad the next day for lunch and that isn't cooking an extra amount...4pack of thighs, 1lb ground turkey, etc. I would say you wouldn't need to increase the recipe for a family of 4; unless of course you have some big eaters, growing boys....sometimes I am shocked at how much my toddler can eat.

I created a Weekly Menu Planning Kit that can help you get started...you can jot down meal ideas up to two months out and then fill in what you will be having in the upcoming week while simultaneously keeping track of your grocery list. Included in the kit comes color coded recipe cards to match your day of the week. This worked fabulously when the hubby who is in charge of cooking for the majority of the week. He can see that Wednesdays are "green" so he could find the recipe for the meal in the "green" cards.

So to start off you will want to designate a planning day and a shopping day. Breaking these tasks out into different days makes it less of a chore. My shopping days are on Fridays so I scheduled my planning days on Thursdays. I audit my pantry and see what I have on hand and adapt meals from there. I add all the ingredients  I need for my meals and then review my "staples" (eggs, milk, bread, cereal, etc.) and add if needed.  I ensure we have a couple of munchies on the list if we are out and we are pretty much done!

I have provided my entire meal planning kit here.

 I hope you find this kit super helpful in both making life just that much simpler while saving a little money because if you take leftovers for lunch you aren't spending $$$ daily. When we first started this I saved around $40 a week! A week! Can you believe it?

You will be able to see me on OrgJunkies blog here.

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  1. Do you have those recipes on your blog somewhere. I would really be interested in a few of them.

    1. Unfortunately I don't, but I do intend to start posting on cooking and baking. One will be coming next week ;)

  2. This is a great idea and thanks for the free download. I have been trying to do something similar using scrappy post-it notes. Now I will have something much better organized to keep me motivated and on track!

    1. You are very welcome, thanks! This idea came to me when I was preggers with my 2nd and had little to no energy...I needed the hubby's help and this helped perfectly.

  3. I love how organized this will help me stay! Thank you so much for linking up at Show Me Your Plaid Monday's! You have been pinned and I hope you return each week!

    1. Thank you Chandra! Thank you for the pin and I most definitely will return.

  4. I have recently got very organized about my meal planning. It is amazing how much planning & sticking to the list can cut down on your food budget! :)
    Thank you so much for sharing your free printables, and thank you for linking up at Marvelous Mondays!