Menu Planning

I hate coming up with meals at the last moment, it frustrates me to no end and usually it ends up with us eating something convenient and not entirely healthy (kraft dinner, frozen nuggets etc).  I am much more relaxed and willing to cook every night if I know what I'm cooking ahead of time and I'm not having to come up with a new meal at the last second.

For a few years I've used my chalk board cupboard and written our main meal on each day.  But I was having to come up with new meals each week and sometimes it seemed like I was just repeating the same meals week in and week out.  I needed something more long term, that I could use for my Costco shopping trips and buy all the meat at one go.

I decided to try something new this month, if you follow me on Instagram (@Jenn_loves_photos) you would have seen my calendar that I have for my meals for March 23-April 25th.  I sat in my van at Costco this morning working out what meals I was going to have. I am cooking 5 nights a week, with two nights dedicated to left overs, this doesn't mean I won't cook anything for the left over nights with the left overs it just means that the Left overs will be the big part of the meal.  I have to find some creative solutions for using my left overs, more often then not they get tossed and that is just not acceptable. I'm not sure if this menu plan will work, but I'm going to give it a go.  If you are interested in what I did you can read below and I will outline it.

1) I used a blank calendar that I have to put my meals into each day.  I cycled through Beef, Chicken and Pork for my meals, mostly Chicken this month, and cycled through Potatoes, rice and pasta. I didn't pick vegetables too often because we really like raw vegetables the most so it will kind of depend on what's in the fridge or what I pick up each week.

2) I then looked at each meal and created my shopping list (this can be done from week to week or at a month at a time like I did just depends on how you shop for your family) I determined how many Chicken Breasts (or pieces because I also like Chicken Thighs), how much Hamburger and how much Pork, and Roasts that I would need to fill my calendar.  I bought at least enough for each meal and when I was portioning it out I ended up having extra meat so that will carry over into May or be for incidental meals that may come up.

3) When I got home I portioned out all my meat, and because I usually ask others to get meat from the Freezer for me I also labeled the bags with a date, so when I send Chandler down to the freezer I can send him for Hamburger dated for that particular day.

4) I then packed the meat into two reusable shopping bags, two weeks in one bag and the rest in a second.  The current weeks meat is in the upstairs freezer.  This way I can be even more specific about where Chandler needs to get the meat from!!  (All about simplifying things so they can't complain that they can't find things)

5) I then re-wrote my calendar to be hung up (this wasn't necessary but as I'm just trying to make this system work I needed to include what incidentals ( bread things) that I may have to purchase yet).  Then I hung my calendar up where we could all see it and that way we all know what is for supper.

Surprisingly I have very few Crockpot meals, but that's ok for this month, as I get used to doing this system I'm sure we will get more and more. The best thing is that I don't have many repeaters of meals except for the Roasts and hamburgers, but I can always make them interesting by changing up the spices and stuff.

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