In the past months I’d very much fallen out of meal planning, which created disasters in the grocery budget and in our diet. I’ve been working really hard over the past couple of weeks to use up food I have in the house, plus make sure that we’re eating more nutritiously. I also have a couple of busy schedules to work around, which makes meal planning a must if I want to keep away from fast food.
While I won’t be sharing my week’s meal plan, here are a few things I’ve done to streamline my planning in the future.
- Slow Cooker Mondays – hubby and I rarely get home from work until 5:30 or later, and have to turn around and leave again by 6:30 or 6:45 to be at rehearsal. This isn’t much time for cooking real food, particularly if we want something warm on nippy fall days. So I’ve officially dubbed Monday to be a “slow cooker” day. I’ve found a few recipes in Joni McCoy’s book Healthy Meals for Less and a few more in an old cookbook I found at a garage sale: Out of the Sugar Rut. I’ll be exploring this website a lot more in coming weeks: PunchFork.com
- Taco Tuesdays – we love tacos. They’re affordable and delicious. When we make them in sprouted grain tortillas, they feel extra healthy. We mix it up with chicken or beef, sometimes we have beans or guacamole. Planning to always have Taco Tuesdays means one less night to figure out a meal.
- Leftover Wednesdays – even worse than Mondays, we have church obligations that give us about half an hour for dinner; which isn’t even enough time to get home. We’ll bring some sort of leftover, probably from Monday, to heat up at the office.
- Soup on Saturday – I’ve started making soup on Saturday to last us for lunches during the week. It means fewer groceries to buy and less hassle in the morning. Once soup is done and we’ve had dinner on Saturday, I package it up in pint sized canning jars, which makes a perfect lunch serving.
- Sunday dinner out – when we put our Financial Peace budget together, we budgeted enough money to have a frugal meal out after church on Sunday. One less meal to plan and fewer dishes to wash!
These changes give me Thursday and Friday nights to try out new recipes and experiment in the kitchen. I think the dependability of a bit of routine with the flexibility of some more creative times will help with my planning sessions. It may even allow me to plan out a whole month without feeling overwhelmed.
When you’re meal planning, keep your schedule in mind as well as your budget. If you have family favorites, include them frequently, especially if you can mix them up to keep from getting bored. Use online resources to look for specific recipes, and resist the urge to buy too many cookbooks – too many recipes will just stress you out!
Happy Slow Cooker Monday – I’m headed home to homemade beef stew.
What are you cooking today?