Monday, October 11, 2010

meal planning... what's working for me

So with the arrival of baby Moriah and my return to work, I knew I needed to brain storm a more efficient way of meal planning. I think I mentioned previously, that my habit before included flipping through my little notebook of favorite dinners, digging out recipe cards, looking through new magazine and e-mail recipes, and finally coming up with my list of dinners for the week. Then I complied all of that info into a grocery list. So I was meal planning... I could NEVER go to the store without a real list and a plan, I admire those of you who can... I would end up at home with nothing I'd need for a complete meal but that's just me! So anyway, while this "system" was fun for me, it was really time consuming and I wanted to make a change.

I found some meal planning templates on another blog months ago and had them handy. The one I liked best included dinner plans for each day of the week with room for the main dish and three sides (although we never have quite that many). Also each page includes the Grocery List which accompanies those particular meals, all seven days of the week are on one page as well making it easy to review at a glance. So I embarked on my last big maternity leave project and found four week's worth of fall and winter recipes for us to enjoy. I sort of grouped them by days: Mon- chicken, Tues- breakfast for dinner, Wed- meatless, Thur-quick dinner, Fri- dinner out, Sat- Crock-Pot, and Sun- free for a new recipe. This grouping helped my brainstorming as I came up with meals we'd enjoy. The Friday night dinner out usually includes one of our favorite fast and less expensive places like: Qdoba (we have great coupons we bought from friends fundraising for a missions trip), Lenny's Subs, or Chick-Fil-A.

So now on a weekly basis all I need to do is consult my master list... recopy the grocery list onto my note paper, add any other staple foods (lunch items, breakfast foods), pantry foods, or toiletries and head out to the store - so much faster for me! I also experimented this week and shopped on Saturday morning EARLY, after Moriah had her first nursing of the day and had gone back to sleep while Matt was home getting ready for work. I really enjoyed it, felt productive and think I might make it a new habit - we'll see.

So here are our weekly plans in case you're curious or need some new inspiration for your own dinners... let me know if there are any recipes you'd be more curious about. I can assure you, they're all FAST and SIMPLE which was crucial for me these days!

feta chicken, rice and a vegetable (recently it was squash from the CSA)
blueberry pancakes, bacon and eggs
cheese and ham souffle, muffins and fruit
nachos with chicken and avocados, beans and rice
French dip sandwiches, a vegetable

lemon-onion chicken, bed of spinach, cheddar biscuits
*** an example of POOR planning, it took way too long and will be soon replaced on our rotation!
waffles, eggs, yogurt, and fruit
grilled cheese sandwiches and salad
pecan salmon, rice, a vegetable (also recently modified... salmon was expensive so I had some cod fillets instead)
cheesy potato soup, rolls, salad

pesto chicken pizza, side?
egg strata, muffins
sweet potatoes, berry and feta salad
spaghetti, garlic bread and green beans
chicken tortilla soup, cheese quesadillas, cornbread, rice

hawaiian chicken, rice, vegetable
pumpkin pancakes, bacon, eggs
spinach and swiss quiche, muffins, fruit
ham and cheese crescent roll-ups, vegetable
chili, cornbread

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