Saturday, February 18, 2012

More On Meal Planning

Since I made a menu board for us, we've been pretty good at planning our meals in advance. Last week we had a few hiccups...Every meal I picked, was made in the crock pot. The problem was, quite a few times, I forgot to start them in the morning...Oops! This resulted in me throwing everything together at 2pm and cooking on high. On Thursday, I was so frantic to put everything together, that I measured the ingredients wrong making our chicken tortilla soup extremely spicy. It was inedible, so I had to cook something new. (Ended up being the most amazing dinner!!!!!)

Here's how I plan our meals:

1. I collect ideas on my Dinner Recipes board on Pinterest. It's a great way to organize different recipes I find. It also gives Adrian pictures to look through so he can help decide what he wants to eat. I don't follow the recipes I find to the tee, but it gives me a starting point. I usually make them my own. If it's really good, I'll blog it!

2. I look through the fridge/freezer, and pantry to see what we have on hand. If we are running low or are out of any key items items, then I jot those down on a post-it. 

I always check...
dry goods: flour, sugar, flaxseed, spices, oatmeal, snacks for the kids
produce: bananas, apples (all other produce depends on what's on sale or if a dinner recipe calls for it)
fridge: milk, butter, almond mik, cheese, mini flour tortillas, eggs, shredded cheese, coffee creamer

3. Once I'm ready decide the next week's meals, I sit down with Adrian, a notepad, pen, and the laptop or iPad. I open up Pinterest, and the grocery store ads.

4. I write down the grocery stores that we shop at on the bottom of the page--not more than 3 stores. The days of the week go on the top left, and numbers 1-7 on the top right. Sometimes we don't choose 7 meals depending on the week's schedule (it might say "date night", or "grandma's house"). I fill in the key items on the bottom (based on the cheapest place to buy them. This week we didn't need too many, or you would probably see grocery store Target on the list.)

5. On the right side (numbers 1-7), I fill in any dinners that we for sure want. This might be based on ingredients we already have, ones that might be expiring, or something we really feel like having. Then we search through Pinterest for other ideas, and look at the grocery store ads for what's on sale. As we choose meals, I write in the ingredients that we are missing on the grocery list.  I hate really dislike running to the grocery store in the middle of the week because we forgot something. So, I usually make the grocery list a day or two ahead of time. That way, if I think of something that we missed, I can add it to the list.

6. Once we have chosen enough meals, we decide what days we are going to make them. This is based on what our schedule looks like. I choose slow cooker meals for a day that we will be home. Less complicated meals for days that we are short on time-- like days that Adrian is closing. I don't want something complicated while I'm trying to handle two toddlers and cook at the same time. If Adrian's cooking that meal, then I put it on a day that he gets off earlier.

7. I also have a board on Pinterest called This Week. I pin all of the recipes we are making here, and also anything I might want to make for lunch, dessert, snack, or fun. Putting the recipes in on this specific board makes it a lot easier to find. Adrian even knows how to find the dinner recipes here if I'm not home.

8. Before we grocery shop, we clean out the fridge/freezer and make sure there's room for the new stuff. This is usually when I spray down the shelves in the fridge too. I make room for things I'm going to buy. I like to buy dry goods (like oatmeal, granola, etc) in bulk from Sprouts (where you scoop into bags). I store them in jars at home. Compared to buying something in a box, this way reduces the amount of trash, keeps the food fresh longer, is more organized, and easier to see what we have on hand.

9. Then we grocery shop! Almost always on Sundays. I have a large cooler bag from Costco that we put stuff in so that we can go to 3 stores (when necessary) in one outing. I really try to stick to the list, and shop on a full belly. Occasionally, I buy stuff that is not on the list, but I don't buy a ton of something when I see it on sale. Unless I saw the item on the weekly ad, and already planned to buy extra. I noticed when I bought a ton of something because it was on sale, it just ended up expiring in the back of the pantry.

this is my rough draft

I also look at grocery store's ad for the week, and try to purchase what's on sale. I was really hoping that boneless skinless chicken breast would be on sale this week...and it was--$1.97 a pound=-great price! Sometimes we buy frozen chicken from Costco, but I prefer to buy it fresh, and then freeze it myself. That way I can cook some fresh, and the rest cut up and freeze in in dinner sized portions.

Here is the legible copy!
Here is what we are having this week:

Sun: Pizza with Chicken Sausage
Mon: Dijon Chicken Linguine
Tues: Chicken Parmesan 
Wed: Stuffed Chicken Breast
Fri: Pesto Chicken Pasta

I'll try to post all the recipes as we make them! I'm eventually hoping to have all of my recipes on here, so we can just look through our own list!

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