There are a lot of perks to menu planning, something that I faithfully did for the first few years of my marriage… until I had a baby and life got cRaZy! However, after 15 months of reasons and excuses not to menu plan, namely one adorable little boy, it is time to get back into this routine! Here are the main reasons why menu planning is
helpful essential to my family:
- Decreases my stress by reducing chaosI have enough to think about throughout the busyness of the day without getting to dinner time and having the pressure of figuring out what on earth we are going to have for dinner. When I menu plan, dinner is already thought out, groceries are purchased and prepped & all I have to do is pull out the ingredients and throw them together. Even better, if I have planned a slow cooker meal, I just toss the ingredients into the slow cooker and there is no prep work at the end of the day!
- Reduces wasteI’ll admit it, I cannot stand to waste food! We rarely waste anything just because I am such a frugal tight wad that I find a way to either use or preserve any left over ingredients, but I know that is not the norm. Many people who have ingredients without a plan to use them end up wasting hundreds of dollars per year on wasted food, especially produce. When you will plan, all of that delicious food gets used up & what doesn’t get used one week can be planned into the next!
- Reduces grocery costsThe last point leads into this one. Less waste = less money spent on groceries. When you have a plan for each item in your refrigerator/pantry, you don’t have to worry about that extra pound of squash staring at you or ending the week with a jar of blueberry syrup, a can of clams and four carrots (because who wants to make a meal with only those ingredients?!?).
- Keeps tummies full… aka helps my marriage thrive!Unfortunately, when I fail to menu plan, we frequently have multiple ingredients in the refrigerator and pantry that don’t necessarily go together (see the above mentioned) or I have a hard time scavenging to find something to put together at the last minute. When I menu plan, there is always plenty to eat… and that makes the husband happy, which it turn makes for a more peaceful marriage! 😉
Different people have different methods of menu planning and what works for one family may not work for another, but the important thing is no matter what your preferred method, make a plan! At this stage of life, I find that what works for my family is making two different lists. I make a weekly meals list that includes the recipes I want to use for the week (plus a few extra) and then I make a tentative & flexible calendar to schedule when those meals will be made/eaten.
Meals For The Week of 9/28-10/4
Frittata (add squash & bell peppers)
Sweet potato mash (sweet potato, coconut oil, cinnamon & salt)
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
Southwest Breakfast Scramble
Nuts, banana & raw milk (for Paul)
Spaghetti Squash Carbonara and/or Pesto Chicken Spaghetti Squash w/ Melted Zucchini & Onions (& potatoes for Paul)
Beef Enchilada Bake and/or Stuffed Pepper Casserole (& rice for Paul)
“Cheesy” Chicken Skillet w/ Roasted Okra (& potatoes for Paul)
Baked chicken & Loaded Cauliflower Mash (& rice for Paul)
Simple Salmon w/ Lemon & Thyme (use dill instead of thyme) w/ Garlic & Dill Veggies (& rice for Paul)
Dill Pickle Kale Chips
Trail Mix (variety of soaked & dehydrated nuts/seeds with dried fruit)
Carrots & Sweet Potato Hummus or Cauliflower Hummus
Bulletproof Coffee or a fancy Coco-nutty Latte
Unsweetened Baker’s Chocolate
Air-popped popcorn w/ coconut oil & seasonings
Apples or bananas w/ seed/nut butter
Quick guacamole w/ carrots or celery
FOOD TO PREP (this is my list of what I still need to prepare)
Cook chicken (crock pot)
Cook bacon & sausage
Cook large batch of rice
Cook white potatoes
Cook sweet potatoes
As you can see, I have not “planned” for making treats. Those recipes I just keep in my arsenal for when I get the urge for a treat, but I don’t want them to be scheduled into the meal plan. Obviously, we will not make and eat all of these meals in just one week, but this gives me some flexibility as many of the recipes include the same fresh ingredients & I can choose to make one recipe or another without being wasteful. What I don’t use up this week will go onto the menu to be used for next week. If I have spared time, I may also make an extra meal to freeze and pull out for a quick dinner on a busy night.
Do you meal plan? What are your best meal & menu planning tips?