Meal Planning

Because it is the beginning of the week, I spent a few minutes planning our meals for the week. Yes, I am totally Type A. Planning meals for the week is the only way to avoid disaster at dinner time. I find we also save a lot of money on groceries, because I only buy what we need, and we waste a lot less food. It is really easy if you make it a habit. Here is how I plan our meals:

Once a week (the day varies by my schedule) I sit down with my calendar and some recipes resources and plot our week. I use my calendar that comes with my email program because it syncs with my phone as well. For each day I enter an event that lists what we have for dinner. You need to do this, because otherwise you will forget that two nights you have baseball practice, so you can’t make a dinner that takes an hour to prepare, for example. The coming weeks are particularly tough in our family because I teach a condensed night class twice a week, so my babysitter will be serving dinner. That means I have to figure out make ahead meals.

I tend to use my old standard recipes and magazines like Cooking Light, the Boston Globe’s food section, and websites, to find my recipes. It is helpful to look at new recipes all the time, just to get fresh ideas. Kids get bored too.

After I do my calendar, I make my grocery list from the list of meals. Obviously I add in the staples and breakfast foods we need in the house as well. At the store I only buy from my list, except for the occasional snack food for fun. The result is that at the end of my week of planned menus, I have no produce left at all. I count this as a good week because we haven’t wasted any food or money. I tend to buy my meat and poultry in bulk at my warehouse store, so I can just defrost as needed for the weekly recipes.

This whole process, not counting the time at the store, takes me about 15 minutes a week. But it means I always have an answer for, “What’s for dinner mom?”

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