Dinner Planning Made Easy
I want to show you how easy it is to meal plan. You don’t have to pay for a service or sit there for hours gathering recipes.
Why should you meal plan?
- Saves money
- Saves time
- Feed your family healthy meals with less effort
How I start my meal plan process
- Look at the week-I sit down and write the days of week, I make a little star next to the days I need a crock-pot or quick meal because of work or other activities.
- Brain Storm-I start listing the meals I want for each day. I think about the kinds of foods we regularly like to eat, or my husband’s favorite dinner or the new recipe I have wanted to try.
- The Grocery List-After I have each night matched up with a dinner I sit down and make a list of what I need to buy. I keep it simple by picking recipes with easy to find ingredients and by keeping my pantry and spices stocked. We also don’t do a lot of crazy side dishes. I keep it simple by serving veggies- we usually have broccoli, or cauliflower, or beans and rice.
- Pricing** This last step is optional if you have an unlimited grocery budget. We try to keep it at $100 -$130 per week, so I like to price out my list and see if I need to cut anything out to keep it within my budget. I go down my list and guesstimate based on what I paid before for each item or I look at my old receipts-yup, I save them!
Breakfast in our home is always eggs or oatmeal. This helps me get out of the kitchen quickly in the morning. Weekends or breakfast for dinner nights are when we do pancakes or waffles or some other fancy breakfast stuff.
Lunch is usually left overs. This week we had salmon leftovers on Monday and Tuesday and also had Salsa chicken over salad topped with Feta cheese, delicious! My tip is if you have a big family and don’t anticipate a lot of leftovers then plan an easy lunch. Over the summer we had sandwiches with deli meat and cheese. Some other ideas would be a simple soup or salad or even try making extra of each dinner so you can have leftovers. I have a “What’s for Dinner” page that lists each day of the week on my fridge. I had it laminated so I could write each week’s meals in with a dry erase marker. This helps me remember what I am supposed to make each day and what I need to thaw out.
|Day||Dinner Menu||Recipe and directions|
|Sun||Salmon and broccoli and cauliflower||2lbs of salmon, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Bake in oven set at 400 F for 20-25 mins. While the salmon is cooking you can take out the frozen veggies, microwave and drain before the salmon is finished cooking.|
|Mon||Salsa chicken bowls||3lbs of chicken breast thawed, place in crock-pot, season with salt and pepper (eyeball it!) and cover with one jar of salsa. Cook on high for 4-6 hrs. Once it’s finished cooking I put the chicken in a glass bowl and shred. Save 2 cups of chicken for Wednesday. Serve in individual bowls with shredded cheese and salsa on top. You can also add beans and corn. You can also serve as a taco if you want to buy tortillas.|
|Tues||Mini Meatloaf||I found this recipe here I usually serve this with a side of rice or my cauliflower faux-tatoes recipe.|
|Wed||Chicken stir fry||Use the 2 cups of shredded chicken from Monday. Take container of veggies (1 onion, 1 bell pepper and 3 shredded carrots) and sauté the veggies in a little butter or oil. Add the shredded chicken and 1 cup of teriyaki sauce; let it cook on low for about 30 mins, stirring occasionally. Serve over white or brown rice. I use a rice cooker and make 2 cups of brown jasmine rice at one time so we have plenty leftover.|
|Thur||Cheesy Omelets or an easy breakfast item||Omelets are super easy, if you don’t know how make one google it! Fill with cheese and any leftover veggies you may have. On our breakfast-for-dinner nights we like pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage. You really can make breakfast-for-dinner as easy as possible. Bacon and eggs it is!|
|Fri||Pizza night||I like using this recipe for the dough. I also make my own pizza sauce, which is so yummy! I even use it in the meatloaf.|
|Sat||Eat Leftovers or Eat Out||Saturday is a great day to relax and eat up the leftovers you have or skip the re-heating and head out! Now, you see how easy one week of meal planning can be. You don’t have to make up the recipes all on your own. Make a Pinterest board titled “What’s for dinner” and only pin recipes or ideas that you know you can make for dinner. Then, when it is meal planning time fill in as many days as possible with easy stuff you already know how to make, like spaghetti, casseroles, etc. when you run out of ideas jump on your pinterest board and fill in the rest. Just don’t forget to make your shopping list at the same time.|
So the main idea is —You can meal plan!! You can save yourself time and money! I grocery shop on Saturdays. Back at home I prep what I need for the week. For example, to save myself time on Wednesday for the Chicken stir fry, I prep the veggies on Saturday, I take slice one onion, one bell pepper and shred 3 carrots and place in a container. So that’s one step I don’t have to do on Tuesday.
I hope this gave you an idea of how to meal plan. I like to stick to simple but tasty recipes. If you want you can add in quick sides like boxed mash potatoes. We try to steer clear of too much processed foods but we are not perfect. The great thing about meal planning is that once you find a few weeks worth of meals that work for you, you can save that list and recipes and rotate them. This will make your life so much easier–all the work will already be done. Tune in next week for the next list of ideas!
Do you meal plan? Share a tip with us!
Need help meal planning?
Try keeping track of what you plan on making for a week. Just one week and see if that makes a difference. Sign up and you'll get the meal plan printable for FREE right in your inbox!