Monday, August 18, 2008

Menu Planning

This has been a few weeks coming (sorry Judy!). We were talking at our last La Leche League meeting about saving money and meal planning, and I shared my new inspiration. I promised to share it with them, but then I got sidetracked.

Thanks to simple mom, I rediscovered meal planning. Back before I began having babies, I was very efficient about planning meals 2 to 4 weeks at a time. It saved a bundle of money, and reduced eating out to almost nil. Then babies came, and my patience for meal planning began to wane. I ran out of new ideas for meals, and we got tired of the same thing over and over. So, we began to eat out more and more, mostly to keep from starving to death (in reality, we ate out maybe twice a week). Finally, I had enough when a few weeks ago we were out at the chiropractor's office and Libby said, "Mama, I'm hungry. I wan Taco Bell." I decided that my family needed me to feed them nutritious, homemade meals again and I needed to figure out how I was going to do that. Then, that day or the next, I came across simple mom's meal planning idea. It is a novel idea, but of course I need someone else to think of it for me. Basically, she has a theme for each day of the week. Brilliant!

Go and check out her plan, and I will also share mine here.

  • Monday: Croc*Pot/Soup
  • Tuesday: Pasta
  • Wednesday: Mexican
  • Thursday: Casserole/Stir-fry
  • Friday: Homemade pizza
  • Saturday: Something easy
  • Sunday: Mamaw & Papaw's (dinner at grandparent's house)
By following this rotating theme idea, it was so much easier for me to think, "okay, what pasta do I want to make Tuesday?" instead of, "what in the world can we have Tuesday?" I was actually able to sit down and plan for 4 weeks and fill in all the days in no time at all! Here is what I have planned for the next 2 weeks.

Monday, Aug. 18: Chicken tortilla soup
Tuesday, Aug 19: Lasagna toss, salad
Wednesday, Aug 20: Taco salad
Thursday, Aug 21: Mexican bean and corn casserole (from this book)
Friday, Aug 22: Homemade pizza, and Blueberry cheesecake cupcakes
Saturday, Aug. 23: Grilled cheese and tomato soup

Monday, Aug. 25: Croc*Pot chicken stew
Tuesday, Aug. 26: Olive Garden fetticuni alfredo (from a restaurant's secret recipes list that I have)
Wednesday, Aug 27: Chicken fajitas, beans, rice
Thursday, Aug. 28: General Tsao's chicken (with lots of veggies and rice)
Friday, Aug. 29: Homemade pizza, strawberry peach crisp
Saturday, Aug. 30: Chicken fingers, salad

The nice thing about this is that you can adjust it to your own family's taste. Scott doesn't like soup so much, so I have it on Mondays when he is out of town for work. I don't like casseroles so much, but Scott loves them, so I alternate between casserole and stir-fry each week. I can proudly say that we have not eaten at a restaurant in over a week (how sad is that). And the only reason we did eat out is because we had family in and ate after church before they went back home. It is so nice to know where our food comes from. And, we are saving lots of money. So, I hope this helps someone else to have a much easier time figuring out what to make for their family. I know it has for me.
What about you? Do you have any creative and fresh ideas when it comes to meal planning? Has this given you a renewed determination? If so, share it with us in the comments section.

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