Mom to Mom

How Do You Meal Plan?
March 22, 2012 at 12:00 AM

Every week I sit down at my kitchen table and with the best of intentions I write out a weekly meal plan. I've never delved deep into learning how to make a meal plan or the best way to do it, all I know is that if I write down six or seven meals for the week that use similar ingredients and double check what I will need against what's in my pantry, the chances of food going to waste or debating what to make for dinner drop dramatically. It's also a good way to use up what I have a lot of and keep dinners from becoming boring and repetitive (spaghetti again?)

Ever since my second baby came a long dinners have become far more simple. I'd rather make sure I get it done and on the table in a decent amount of time than be able to brag that I feed my family from scratch, three course meals every night. I'll always have two or three "pinch hitter" meals on my list. Things I can throw together quickly if time gets away from me or if life is in a general uproar. I usually make at least one dish that can be doubled and freeze half or that can be eaten the next night as leftovers. I haven't been adding many new dishes to our rotation simply for lack of time but every once in awhile something will catch my eye and I'll add it in. Just as an example, here's my meal plan list from last week. (I add in fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables with each meal as well.)

Meal #1 Breakfast for dinner. (This one's always easy and becoming a tradition on Sunday nights.)

Meal #2 - Double batch of spaghetti sauce. (Spaghetti sauce is so easy to make yourself when you have a few simple ingredients.) Freeze half for later.

Meal #3 - Roast chicken breast over vegetables. (double the chicken)

Meal #4 - Leftover chicken over rice.

Meal #5 - Tacos.

Meal #6 - Use random leftovers from taco night to make nachos.

Meal #7 - Bean soup in the crock pot.

Pinch meal #1 - Frozen pizza

Pinch meal #2 - Frozen ravioli with some of the frozen spaghetti sauce.

We're still doing things pretty simple here. What's most important is that we all make time to sit down and eat together.

How do you meal plan?


  • elasmimi
    March 22, 2012 at 7:30 AM

    I don't use many coupons, but I go through the sale sale ads in the paper, mostly which meat is on sale, and build my meals around that. Then I check my pantry, make sure I have all the ingredients for each recipe. I keep the recipes I am using for the week in the front of my loose leaf notebook, and try to use one new recipe per week. If it's a keeper, it goes into the notebook. If not, I say goodbye to it.

  • goddess99
    March 22, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    I try to plan dinner 2-3 weeks ahead of time. I just write done meals we all like. I do cook extra for leftovers the next day. I try to pick weeks where maybe for 2-3 meals we have either the same meat or potatoes so I can buy bulk for 1 week. Meal planning has save us about $60 a week.

  • slw123
    by slw123
    March 22, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    The meals I make depend on our activities for the day.  So I will plan out the meals I want to make for the week and slot them into the days they work best for.  Then I check to see what ingredients I already have and write down what I still need to get.

  • dusky_rose
    March 22, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    I don't meal plan. I just make sure that we have the ingredients on hand to make whatever I decide to make that day. Sometimes I end up running to the store for a few items, but usually not. I'm so thakful that we have a big freezer (or two or three) to keep meats and other good stuff for cooking.

  • Bmat
    by Bmat
    March 22, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Your method is close to mine. I plan leftovers to use either on the next day or put in the freezer for a meal later in the month.

  • KaylaMillar
    March 22, 2012 at 11:21 AM
    I do meal plan. It was the only way I could get my act together! It saves trips to the store and the stress of not knowing what to cook
  • copperswifey
    March 22, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    I'm always looking for new recipes so usually I will find about 2 or 3 new things I want to try. We go shopping for 2 weeks so I always do meals for 2 weeks. We always do spaghetti, some kind of taco's, and pork chops. Then I will just decide on what else we're craving or haven't had in awhile to decide on the other meals. We usually grill out a lot so a lot of times it's chicken and steak. :)

  • LOswald0314
    March 22, 2012 at 1:35 PM

     I'm like you....all about simple meals right now.  We have about 10 meals that we all like and rotate through them, with a few pizza nights thrown in every month.  I love summer for grilling though...we could all eat grilled chicken/sausage/veggies everyday.

  • MamaMandee
    March 22, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    I was doing really good about planning out my meals one or two weeks at a time but lately I have not been and I really need to get back into the habit. It really does make dinner time less stressful! 

    P.S. Casey, Im in Indiana too (near Muncie) and a transplant from the West too! 

  • suziejax
    March 22, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    I sit down once a week and try to make a menu for all the m eals of the week

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