Do any of you do it? I didn't used to. For a long time I was a Fly By the Seat of My Pants kind of girl. I would hear about my best friend's plan and think she was crazy. But the more I thought about it, the more it made perfect sense. Especially when you have kids and a budget.
Many of you ask if I really cook dinner every single night. And yes I do. Even before I made a meal plan I did. But we we were definitely more tempted to do take out because I didn't have a quick, handy list of ideas hanging on my fridge and all of the needed ingredients stocked in my pantry and fridge. If you are trying to keep a budget you know that getting take out isn't a good way to save money (or good on the waistline either!) Sometimes my day gets busy and cooking a full meal seems unappealing. Like last night. On a whim I decided to paint some of the playroom (flat paint and kids are not a good combination!) I also needed to bake bread since we were fresh out. By the time dinnertime rolled around I was in no mood to cook. So salami sandwiches it was. And everyone was fine with that! Now I have one extra meal that will carry over to the following 14 day meal plan. Works out all around.
So this is what I do. Every two weeks I sit down the day before payday and make up a list of 14 meals that we would like to eat over the course of the two weeks. Then on that Friday I go shopping for only the ingredients needed for these particular meals (plus all the essentials like milk, cheese, flour, toilet paper, etc.) This is a huge money saver because you don't buy as many odds and ends without a reason for them. How often do you look at your pantry and fridge and see tons of stuff inside but have a heck of a time figuring out what goes with what to make a full meal? This used to happen to me all the time and always got me so frustrated. Creating a plan and shopping accordingly ends this cycle. I don't break my meal plan down Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, etc. I originally tried it this way and it seemed like I never was in the mood for whatever I designated for a specific day. So my meal plan looks more like a menu. Each morning I look at the list of meals and decide what to make that night so I know what I need to take out of the freezer, etc.
Two weeks may seem like a big commitment to you, so if this is the case then try planing for just one week at a time. I used to go grocery shopping every week. But in an attempt to save money and be more prepared Scott has been challenging me to only shop once a week. The first time I did this was awful! I totally had a hard time planning that far in advance. But I think I am finally getting a better system down and am forgetting less and less things.
Kalli from the blog My Life as a Kalli suggested that we post our weekly meal plans to help each other find new ideas and stay creative in the kitchen. So here is mine:
14 Day Meal Plan Menu
(week of October 14-27th)
- Sauteed Chicken Thighs with a Greek style Israeli couscous (think artichokes, tomatoes and olives....mmmmmmm)
- Salmon Burgers and garlic-y oven fries
- Loaded Baked Potatoes and a salad (I made these on Sunday night and topped the potatoes with leftover BLT Dip- one word amazing. I might actually like it even better as a potato topping then a dip. Gotta love having dual uses for recipes! Super yummy)
- Tacos, Classic Black Beans and Spanish rice
- Pork Chops, homemade apple sauce and roasted butternut squash
- Caramelized Onion, Pumpkin and Ricotta Tortellini's with a Walnut and Sage Brown Butter Sauce (I already made these ahead and froze them. So all I have to do is cook the torellini's for 2-3 minutes and make the brown butter sauce. Dinner on the table in 10 minutes!)
- Mac 'n Cheese and hotdogs (Turkey Pepper Jack Brats for the grown-ups!)
- Traditional Spaghetti with garlic toast and a side salad
- Meatloaf, buttery noodles and broccoli
- Breakfast for Dinner (whatever I feel like at the time. Often it is just dippy eggs, bacon and toast. But sometimes I do a french toast casserole, Potato Puffs or a frittata (here is a good one). This night is pretty flexible, EASY and everyone loves it.)
- Chorizo & Butternut Soup with Herbed Tomato and Cheese Quesadillas (This is a Rachael Ray recipe that I am super excited to try out. I'll let you know how it is!)
- Chef Salads and butter bread
- Homemade Pizza and a side salad (thinking iceburg lettuce wedges- yum!)
- Roasted Spaghetti Squash "Pasta" and rolls