Meal Planning

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Meal planning saves lives.


Life is just so much easier when you know what you will be eating at 6pm instead of looking in the cupboard at 5:45 and finding a can of tuna, a tablespoon of peanut butter and brown rice.

Meal planning saves money too. By knowing what you are going to be having for dinner that week, you go out to eat less and you know exactly what to purchase at the grocery store.

My point? When you have a list you generally stick to it (sure there are a few random things that honestly grow legs and jump into the cart. Or, if you have kids, they throw stuff in). AND you can go one step further...check out the grocery store ads before you meal plan and see what meats are on sale before you select your meals. Even more savings!

Not a fan of scouring ads, dreaming up meals, making lists, grocery shopping, putting groceries away and cooking?? I have some sites & tips for you, although I have no ability to help you with the actual shopping, putting away and cooking...that's all you baby!

Meal Planning Sites:

#1. Food on the Table  Create a meal plan for your family using chef-approved recipes that everyone will like. They find the sales at your neighborhood supermarket so you don't have to mess with the circular and you can print out your grocery list organized by department. It is free and, there's an app for that!

#2. Cozi I use this site/app for my calendar, but I also use it for meal planning. This is a little more work, but I will search cookbooks and the internet for meals that I want to make that week (I'll post links to some of my favorite places below) then I type up the list in Cozi. I go through my cupboards first, checking off things I already have, then open the app when I'm in the grocery store so that I can check things off as I go. Much easier to do this without children...with children they keep grabbing for the phone and checking off random things.

#3. Oh Dinner! This one isn't free, but it IS fantastic! It is owned by two locals and I've been using it for a couple months and really enjoy it. Every week they have 10 different meals (and one yummy dessert) and includes ideas for sides. You can create instant grocery lists and recipes that you can print or email. "Like" them on Facebook  and you will receive some great recipes and tips. They taught me to toss my sweet potato fries with a little cumin and coriander...and I'll NEVER be able to eat them any other way again! Amazing I tell you!

Here are some tips that have helped me:

#1. I can NEVER find meals when I need them...I just draw a blank and cannot come up with a single idea. So I started a new file in my bookmarks called "meals for the future" so that when I'm putzing around on the internet and run into something, I can save it here for when I actually need a little inspiration...and I save things as I find them on Pinterest.

#2. Recruit the family to pick a meal or two for the week. My husband plans once a week, and as my son gets older, I will be asking for his input. If I were to ask now, we would be having peanut butter, banana and honey sandwiches once a week. Not my fav.

#3. Include one day a week as "Leftover" night...unless you have a large family or a teen or two, you will probably have leftovers of some sort.

#4. FREEZER MEALS!!! I will do a blog post that goes into depth about my love for freezer meals....but for now, I'll just say if you cook a little extra and freeze a meal for will fall in love with your freezer too!

So, if you have the hubby pick one meal, the kids pick another meal, have a freezer meal stashed in the freezer and a "leftover" night, that means you only have to plan 3 meals a week. Easy, squeezy!

Here are my favorite places to find yummy meals:
A Year of Slow Cooking
Full Bellies. Happy Kids (and this is probably my FAVORITE from them)
Cook for good
All Recipes
Family Fun
Kraft I used to use this a lot more, but we are trying to do less processed foods, so I find myself changing up these recipes a little bit. They have a "use what's on hand" tool ....and that brings me to...
Google Yup, Google. I type in the ingredients I have on "Green onions, ham, potatoes" and it gives me some killer ideas. I mostly use this at the end of the week when I have accidentally used part of a meal for something I just have randomness in the kitchen.
Pinterest Yes, I ADORE Pinterest! I will go there a lot to just browse. But sometimes I'll type something like "Meals on a Budget" into the search bar and see what comes up or if I'm looking for a chicken recipe I'll type in "Chicken" and see what randomness Pinterest has to offer that day.

Well, now I'm hungry...What's for dinner?


  1. I used to keep a list recording what we had for dinner every night. It sounds dumb, but it was great for inspiration, so I didn't forget about a recipe.

  2. oh, that was Mona's Jillian :)