March 4, 2013

Monthly Meal Planning

I've decided to be ambitious this month and attempt to plan (and stick to said plan) an entire month of meals. I have a hard time thinking about what to make for dinner each day so I've been recently planning a week's worth of meals. Even so, with my new job and multiple volunteer shifts at the hospital, dinner has started taking a back seat. I'm beginning to learn that if I don't write down what we're going to eat we'll either be going out or it'll be a fend-for-yourself night which always ends in Lars eating eggs and me eating chips and salsa for dinner. Neither of those options is optimal. I spent a total of two hours over Thursday and Friday of this past week writing down what we will eat each day as well as what groceries I needed to buy on Friday for the month and what needs to be purchased each week. I'm new to this game (It really does kind of feel like a game - make all the meals you planned and win a prize!) so my methods may be crude, but I think they'll work for now. Here's my month of meals:

We typically go out every Friday, and I go to a Bible study on Monday nights so Lars is on his own those nights. I also decided to take out what I had planned for the last weekend in March because we're still finalizing our Easter plans for that weekend. For reference I marked where to find the recipes if I don't usually make them or if they aren't on my food board on Pinterest. I spent time on Friday making a list of everything that I would need for my month of meals save for milk, bananas, and any weekly produce that I might need. Based on the recipe menu above, I came up with the weekly grocery list you see below.

Not bad huh? The remaining grocery trips should not only be super quick but also fairly inexpensive. Even now, only three days into the month, I'm already feeling this sense of calm about upcoming dinners. Am I the only one who gets semi-stressed about what to eat each night? I no longer have to think about it or ask Lars (to no avail) what he'd like for dinner. I just look at the calendar and eat either what's listed for that night or something listed for the week. One thing I did want to note is that I don't have any "leftover" nights scheduled. I've been getting pretty good at making only enough for us to eat for dinner, and any leftovers that we do have get eaten for lunch so we rarely make a nighttime meal from leftovers.

If you're toying with the idea of monthly meal planning, I say give it a go. I'm seeing if it truly does decrease my dinner-induced stress for the entire month as well as if it has any positive effect on our grocery budget. Let me know if you have any tips or tricks that would make this experience even better, and good luck with your own meal planning!

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