Quite awhile ago, I sat down to plan a monthly menu. There were a few reasons for this.
One, I needed something to help keep me from falling into the ‘what’s for dinner’ and ‘I don’t feel like cooking’ trap where you scramble last minute and end up making bad food choices. If the idea is already there and I don’t have to think about it, it’s easier for me to achieve. At least in theory it is.
Two, it’ll help with the baby led weaning process to keep us all eating healthy. Three, it’ll help with my weekly grocery shop. I’m trying to avoid us popping in to pick things up as we need them (other than fruits and veggies). I don’t have the time right now since I’m watching my sisters kids. Plus, we always end up buying more than we need, spending more money than we have to.
And finally, four, to make meals with leftovers so that A can bring lunch to work. Healthier and cheaper for him.
I’m on week three of my four week rotation and so far I’m loving it! There have been a few nights I’ve skipped or switched around, but overall I’ve stuck to it.
To make my plan, I first made a list of all our favourite meals. I had wanted a monthly plan but this list confirmed it! I have a lot of ‘staple’ dishes in my repertoire that I didn’t want to leave out 🙂
I then drew out a grid with the days of the week down the side and weeks 1-4 across the top. I filled in fixed meal days (see below) and then filled in the remaining spaces with the rest of our favourite meals. It took a few tries to make sure I didn’t have back to back protein (ie chicken two nights in a row) but I finally have a plan that seems to work for us.
The rough draft is a mess (see below), so I transferred it neatly to the monthly calendar I use. I should probably use a computer for all this but, and call me old school, I prefer paper still for a lot of things. This calendar tells me at a glance when I have the kids, get togethers with friends, any appointments I have, reminders to pay bills or when automatic withdrawals will be made etc.
Monday – leftovers/freezer night. Mondays suck, even when you’re on maternity leave and so I’m going to take the easy way out on dinner this night every week. It could be leftovers from the night before, leftovers I’ve frozen or something from the freezer. We keep a box of perogies and a box of toquitos on hand for such occasions. Just add sour cream and some raw veggies and we’re good to go!
Wednesday – new recipe night. I love recipes. It’s the board most pinned on my Pinterest account and I have oodles of recipes in my binders that I’ve saved over the years. I decided to dedicate one night a week to making something new and different. I chose Wednesday rather than the weekend because I need that oomph of creativity and excitement of doing something new mid week. Each week is a different protein: beef, chicken, pork and fish. So far I’ve made Pastitsio (Greek pasta casserole with ground beef) and Chicken Paprikash (Hungarian chicken dish). Both were amazing! I’m going to try and get my act together and blog about what I make 🙂
Thursday – pasta night. A lot of our favourite dishes are pasta based so I thought it prudent to dedicate a night to it.
Every other Friday – pizza!! We’d have pizza 24/7 around our casa but healthy eating is key with Molly eating what we eat. Still, there’s no point in denying ourselves, so every other week we’ll indulge, either with frozen or take out.
Once a Month – eat out!! This is getting trickier with Molly. She’s at that in between phase where she needs to be on the go and isn’t eating a full meal yet. We took her with us to a restaurant last week (on a night I skipped my plan) and she wouldn’t sit still! We might just make this date night from now on and recruit someone to babysit.
Have any of you implemented a meal plan? How’s it going?