Friday, November 22, 2013

Planning meals two weeks at a time

1. Brainstorm a list of 14 meals.
They can be new meal ideas, old trusty favorites, and as simple or as complex as you would like. Just be sure that they will be ones you're open to cooking and the family is up to eating. I also try to stretch my ingredients out as much as I can. For instance if you're cooking something like hot dogs you can split the package and cook half in a weenie spaghetti or use half a pack of rice for beef stew and the other half for fried rice. Try to stretch them out and design your meals to work together.

2. Get on the computer and make a list 
Begin to write down a list of every ingredient you will need, including little stuff like salt and pepper. If you're cooking from a brand new recipe you've just found online simply copy and paste it onto your list. If I have two meals that need the same thing I write it like this:

Lettuce X 3  - That lets me know I'm using lettuce for three different meals so when I get to the grocery store I don't just buy one.

3. Print the list out and visit the pantry and fridge
Your list is probably huge but that's ok (don't let it scare you) because the next step is going to the pantry and crossing out anything you already have...which will usually eliminate a good bit ( sugar/ketchup/salt, etc). In the lettuce situation above, if I went to my fridge and saw I had a head of lettuce already in there I would just cross out the X 3 and leave "lettuce" so I still know I need it, just not that much anymore.

4. Take your list and shop
Your list should be everything and anything you need for TWO whole weeks of food. Once you have everything there's no more worrying over if you have an ingredient or what's for dinner. Everything is already there...saving you time and stress.

 -Keep your storage space into consideration. I don't have a very large freezer so I don't plan a lot of meals  together that need large quantities of frozen chicken or ground beef.
- Add in leftover nights to make your meals stretch out even longer
- Remember that it doesn't have to be a production, there's nothing wrong with a grilled cheese night.
- I use a Meal Calender to show what options are available to cook. I don't always cook what's listed on Monday on Monday so it's nice to see what options are there and which ones we've used already. You can find that printable HERE
- If you're neurotic like me and want to write down your final grocery list without the scribbles ( don't judge me) you can find a cute little grocery list HERE

Here are a few of my FAVORITE weekday meals that we're currently loving to cook in my house:

Lemon Chicken
Fancy Hot Dogs
Monterey Chicken
Cheese Potato And Smoked Sausage Casserole
Baked Buffalo Chicken Taquitos
Chicken Fried Steak
Beef Stew
Smokey 15 Bean Soup With Sausage
Taco Salad
Apple Cinnamon Pork Chops
Sloppy Joes

Don't mind me...Just linking up at these fabulous places dearies. 
Serenity Now

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