There’s nothing like starting a week that you know will be hectic (like the first week of school) let alone worrying about putting food on the table for the family. That is why I’m trying to be a bit more organized with my menu planning for the week.Oftentimes I fall into standard patterns where I buy the same old stuff when I make a trip to the market. Although I do actively try to only make one trip per week, but that doesn’t always work out. And, I bring along the kids to the market so that they can each pick a veggie and/or fruit of their choice. But this also doesn’t always go as planned either, ie doughnuts.
So over the years I’ve picked up a few pointers from various sources as to how to manage meal planning, such as from the defunct Cookie magazine which inspired me to start my taste testing two years ago; Robin Miller’s book, Robin Rescues Dinner; 100 Days of Real Food blog among other sources.
Here are some of the tricks for making less trips to the market while keeping your sanity at the dinner rush.
1. Set aside some quality time with yourself to make a master list of the meals that you make that your family truly enjoys. In all reality it’s a good idea that you should aim for about 10 recipes in this initial list. And they should be recipes that you’re totally comfortable with, nothing that is too complicated.
2. Add to this list maybe four to five meals that you think your family would like, maybe you’ve tried them, maybe not, but since this blog is about experimenting–here’s your chance.
3. Now here comes the organizational part. Secret: I LOVE organizing! Mix and match these meals to distribute them so that you’re not eating pasta, or whatever, too many days in a row. But at the same time, don’t over stress yourself by cooking everyday either. For example, if you have more time on Sundays then cook a little extra and transform it into something different later in the week when you have to shuttle the kids between activities. Robin’s book is really helpful with this part.
4. Once you’ve figured out these weeklong menus, type them up. Print them out with each week on a separate page. Then simply add to the your shopping list, so it’s all in one place. Save them and paste them on the fridge in a plastic sheet protector. This way you can grab on your way to the market and everyone knows what’s for dinner that week. No surprises.
Here’s my menu for one week and links to three recipes. Enjoy!
- Man-I-Need-A-Beer Chicken Here my plan is to cook double the chicken so that I can use the remaining meat in something new later in the week and cut down on my prep.
Monday (Fresh Fish Day):
- I tend to hit the grocery store on my way home from work, so I’m going to aim to put some sort of fresh fish on the table on Mondays, since it will be super-fresh. We need to eat more fish! I will serve Grilled Fish with a Raw Herb Zucchini salad. I must post that recipe eventually too.
Tuesday (Speedy Beef Day):
- Beef Chili Mac with a side salad. Yes, ground beef is getting a bad rap lately, however, if you choose the organic and lean (8% or lower) this super market staple really can stretch a meal quickly.
- Baked Chicken Crunchies are a staple in our house, so we can’t go all that long without having them pop onto the table. These cut small bake in under 15 minutes.
- Chicken Enchilada Soup with Cornbread At this point in the week, I start to get pretty frazzled. So I’m trying to keep in simple in that all I’ve got to do for dinner is throw together some leftover veggies and chicken to make a lovely soup. And since I keep corn muffins in the freezer, my meal is on the table in 15 minutes, with very little prep.
And you ask about Friday and Saturday? Mama needs a break, so we practice our restaurant manners on those nights:)
Link to a printable version here: Meal Plan and Shopping List for Week 1
Let me know if you like this meal plan post. I’m thinking of doing more like it, since I have at least four more on the back burner.