Monday, April 9, 2012

Meal Plan 4/9/12

I can't believe it's Monday already! I hope you had a fantastic Easter Holiday!  Ours was pretty quiet, as usual.  This year we didn't have snow, which was quite a blessing, because we had three acres to hide Easter eggs on!  That made it a great time for the kids-and much easier on mom and dad, who didn't have to find creative ways to hide the eggs in a small yard!

This week I'm excited to once again be hooking up with Menu Plan Monday over at OrgJunkie.com.  I love looking there for new meal plan ideas!  I hope that you hop over there and check out some of the other menu plans that are available.  Last week, over 230 bloggers joined in at Menu Plan Monday!  That's a lot of inspiration for your meal planning.  The best part is, there's a little bit of everything!  Need quick meals because you're working or planning a super busy week?  You're covered.  Looking for crock pot meals?  Done.  Looking for whole food recipes?  Gotcha.  Brown bag lunch ideas for you or the kids?  All taken care of over at Menu Plan Monday.  Go, check it out!  Really!


This week I want to talk about why you should use a meal plan.  I've heard every excuse about meal planning.  Really.  Yours won't be any different.  I once taught a class on meal planning through a local missionary group who worked with low income people who didn't qualify for food stamps.  In other words, people who have income coming in, but once the bills are paid, there's not a whole lot of money left for groceries.  The people I was working with were people who were regularly getting boxes of food from the missionary group and we were working with them to help them find the best ways to use the food they got.  One lady mentioned that most of her food came from food pantries, and she never knew what she was going to get, so meal planning was difficult for her.  That's about the only reasonable excuse I've ever heard for not using a meal plan.

Here are my top reasons for using a meal plan:

1.  It makes shopping easier.  If I know what I need to buy, I'm not wandering the aisles of the store trying to decide what looks good.  I also don't miss ingredients.  There's nothing worse than thinking "Oooh, I'll make meatloaf tonight" and realizing you're out of tomato sauce once you've already started putting the ingredients together in the bowl.
2.  It makes it easier to shop on sale.  This is especially important if you don't have a lot of freezer space, so can't stock up on meats when they are on sale.  If I know that, say, round steak is on sale, I can plan two meals around round steak, saving money on those cuts, rather than having to pay full price.
Photo Credit: ilovebutter
3.  It saves me time, in the long run.  Yes, it takes time to put a meal plan together.  As mentioned previously, I spend about 10 hours per week putting together my meal plan and grocery list, determining what to stock up on, what I will be canning or dehydrating in the coming week, etc.  But gone are the days of wondering what's for dinner, or not knowing what to take out to thaw.  While I do sometimes make unplanned meals, I've usually made that decision early enough in the day that I have plenty of time to thaw out whatever cut of meat I need.  I can also do pre-prep.  If I have two meals that call for a large quantity of diced onions, for example, I can dice all of my onions at once and put the portion for the second recipe in the fridge.  It means I don't have to dirty my cutting board again-and any step that saves me having to wash more dishes is great in my book!
4.  It saves my sanity.  Just like you, I'm a busy mama!  While I don't work outside of the home, I have plenty of things to keep me busy-especially this time of the year, with Spring Cleaning and trying to get the garden ready for planting.  Sitting down and spending a few hours a day on meal planning and grocery list making is much better than pulling my hair out trying to find something to cook at the last minute.  Out here in the Backwoods, there is no last minute running to the store-there's simply not one here.  If I know I need to take ground beef out tonight for our dinner tomorrow, I don't have to spend time cooking a frozen hunk of meat slowly in a pan because I forgot to take something out to thaw-time which I bet you, like me, don't have.
5.  It reduces waste.  I don't buy ingredients I end up not using.  If I'm shopping without a meal plan, there could be many things I buy intending to cook them, and then not cooking them because I'm missing ingredients or forget what I originally intended to do with them.
6.  It helps me balance meals better.  I can add to the protein content of a meal if we've missed protein in an earlier meal.  I can make sure we're not having beans for both breakfast and dinner, or the same kind of carrots two nights in a row.  By serving my family a variety of food, I keep their interest up

Well, there you have it.  Those are my top reasons for creating a meal plan.  Now, without further ado, here's the meal plan I used last week

Monday:  Carnitas, Rice, Tortillas
Tuesday:  Shepherd's Pie
Wednesday:  Sticky Rotisserie Chicken, Macaroni and Cheese, Mint Glazed Carrots
Thursday:  Spaghetti, Green Beans, Italian Bread
Friday: Split Biscuit Chicken Pie, Corn
Saturday:  Sloppy Joes
Sunday (Easter):  Ham, Cheesy Potatoes, Yams, Rolls, Deviled Eggs, California Blend Veggies

4 comments:

  1. GREAT idea for a meal plan - now i gotta figure out how to start one.... :D

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  2. I so need to menu plan more. It does create a more relaxing tone at meal time!

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    Replies
    1. It really does. So much less stress. Occasionally, I do stray from it, but overall, it helps so much!

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