Posts Tagged ‘meal planning’

Ok, so my two-week grocery shopping plan needs a lot of work.  Apparently, I don’t have a really good concept of just how much food my family consumes.  I bought 20 pounds of apples less than two weeks ago, and we seriously have three left.  Thirteen pounds of potatoes, and again, three left.  Better planning is in order.

The other thing I am learning, is that I spend more time cooking than I would like.  Duh, right?  I guess we probably all feel this way.  Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy cooking.  It is just that with all the other responsibilities I have, cooking and baking can’t be a huge time taker for me.

I am reading Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman right now – even though our family may not qualify as large (seven people) compared to hers (eleven people) – and I am really gleaning some fantastic tips for organizing our household.

I am going to put two ideas into practice when it comes to my meal planning this week:

1. Leftovers

I need to cook larger quantities of dishes like soups, stews and beans so that I have enough for two or even three meals.  Years ago, I would make one batch of something and my husband would have leftovers for work the next day.  As our family grew, I had to make a double batch of things to have leftovers.  Now, we are at the point where I make a double batch of things and have no leftovers.  Leftovers save time!!!!  I now see that I need to start making triple or quadruple batches when I cook so that I can serve leftovers throughout the week.

2. Dinner

Dinner in the noon time, Little House on the Prairie sense.  My husband works from home during the day, and often times he works out of the house at night.  On those days, I typically serve a larger meal at lunch time – or dinner as it was called way back when.  Where my plan falls apart, is the fact that I also then feel the need to plan a larger meal for the kids and me later in the day.  So not necessary.  And, to be honest, my husband is really flexible.  I think to save myself the planning headaches, I am just going to plan a very simple breakfast, a very simple supper, and larger midday meal.  We’re bringing dinner back!

This week is also going to be an adventure for our family.  In addition to having my own five children ages eight and under, we will be watching my two nephews.  They are very energetic, very adorable little 21-month-olds.  Yep, that’s right.  Seven kids, eight and under.  It is going to be loud and messy – even more so than usual.  And we are all looking forward to it!  This is the perfect opportunity for my older two to really step up and help even more as well.  And, it will mean that I would like to spend even less time in the kitchen this coming week.

My plan = Big pots of stuff and lots of leftovers.


Kids can choose from the following:

  • Eggs
  • Apples and Peanut Butter
  • Smoothies
  • Yogurt
  • Oatmeal
  • Granola


  • Creamy Vegetable and Rice Soup, Steamed Broccoli
  • Beef Stew (yummy new recipe with potatoes and lots of dill)
  • Sloppy Joes (I use Laura’s yummy recipe, but add a bunch of chopped peppers and grated carrots), Steamed Corn, Steamed Peas
  • Cottage Mac and Cheese, fruit
  • Calico Beans , fruit
  • Leftovers x 2


  • Refried beans, avocados, cheese, veggies
  • Baked potatoes, cheese, steamed broccoli, fruit
  • Eggs, apples, veggies
  • Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins, fruit, veggies
  • Grilled Cheese, veggies
  • Leftovers x 2

That’s my plan.  I know that the theme of my week is FLEXIBILITY, so we shall see how my plan plays out in reality :).  I am still going both wheat and dairy free to see if my nursing baby’s skin improves.  The experiment continues . . .

What do you have planned this week?  Do any of you have your bigger meal of the day at noon?

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This is the first post in a short series on different ways to create a weekly meal plan.  I truly believe that if you only make one change to your home management for 2012 – this should be it!  It will ease your mind, simplify your life, and save you both time and money!
a slow cooker Oval Crock Pot

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The first method I want to talk about is the “Theme System”.  Nothing I ever do is complicated, or I would never do it :).  So, trust me when I say this one is simple.

The basic idea is to pick a theme for each night of the week to guide you as you plan.  Here is my quick list of themes:

  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Seafood
  • Pasta
  • Asian
  • Italian
  • Mexican
  • Breakfast (who doesn’t love a breakfast spread at night?!)
  • Crock Pot
  • Leftovers
  • Pizza
  • Dad/Kids cook
  • Vegetarian

These are just the ones that popped into my head as I was typing, so I am sure you could think of more.  Now, turning this into a system, might look something like this:

  • Monday – Meatless/Vegetarian
  • Tuesday – Italian
  • Wednesday – Chicken or Beef
  • Thursday – Crock Pot
  • Friday – Mexican or Pork
  • Saturday – Pizza or Dad cooks
  • Sunday – Leftovers

You pick the themes, and you decide which theme works best for which night.  Make the system work for you, your schedule and your family’s activities.

For this system, you will want to designate a specific day and time on which to force yourself to sit down and get specific about the actual meals you want to serve for the week.  Grab a notebook and a pen, or your iphone, or whatever works for you and plan your meals!

Once you have a dinner plan in place, create your grocery list.  Go through the recipes (either the actual recipe or from memory) and determine what you need to buy.  Add the extra stuff you need for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.

There you have it!  Save your list of possible themes and the ones you have chosen for now.  And, plan to use it every week for a few weeks to get in the groove.  You can always come back and switch it up when you want to.

My last tip  – post your plan where your family can see it!  This may be the biggest motivating factor to keep you on the meal planning track.  You will quickly realize how valuable it is to smile and point at the list when the eighth person of the day asks you, “Mom, what’s for dinner?”

To read my post on why meal planning is so important, click here.

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Flanders, Netherlands

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A dry morsel.  That does not sound yummy.  Makes me thirsty just thinking about it.  During my Bible study the other morning, I came across this verse:

Proverbs 17:1 “Better is a dry morsel with quietness,

Than a house full of feasting with strife.”

Huh.  That sure says a lot.

I am definitely not going to get theological and delve into a huge study on this verse.  But, I will tell you what it spoke to my spirit as I read it.  “Don’t let feeding your family stress you out so much that it is unpleasant to prepare and share a meal with you.”   I would love to be able to say that has never been an issue for me.

The reality is that feeding my family causes me much stress.  Planning meals, making grocery lists, buying food, shopping for the best bargains, cooking just about everything from scratch to save money and be healthier – all of this is done as an expression of my love for my family.  But are they really receiving it that way?

My kids are not really old enough to make wise decisions about food for themselves, so if I fed them boxed foods and store-bought sweets everyday, they wouldn’t know the difference.  If nutrition was all equal no matter what we ate, I would be thrilled with the convenience of the box!  But, I do know the difference.

So, if I am not willing to sacrifice nourishment for convenience, then how do I avoid the stress and strife that comes with not-from-a-box cooking?

Proverbs 17:1 doesn’t say that I must feed my family dry crust in order to avoid strife.  It simply says, if serving a feast is going to send me into a tailspin, then I did something wrong.

Meal planning is my saving grace when it comes to maintaining sanity when feeding my family, and I highly recommend you make this part of your goals for 2012. 

It saves me time, money and strife and, as long as I have a system to follow, it is relatively painless!  I have used several systems over the years that served me well for the season in which I happened to be.  In the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of my favorite meal planning systems with you.  Just one small thing you can do to start the year off well!  I guarantee it will have a huge impact.

Do you need help developing a system or maybe tweaking the one you are using now?  Do you just need to commit to actually using the system you have already?   I’d love to hear what your challenges are, so hopefully I can help you find your groove!

Read my second post in this series:  Menu Planning – The Theme System

I am sharing this post at Works For Me Wednesday and Real Food Wednesday today!

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Trader Joe's West Hartford 3

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There are several things about my home management that aren’t working for me right now.  Grocery shopping would be one.

I am going to try a new plan for a few months and see what I think.  I buy lots of things in bulk from Country Life Natural Foods (I highly recommend them if you are in their delivery area!) every other month and from Azure Standard (this is actually our first month of Azure delivery in our area – YAY!) once a month.  The items I am not able to get from either of those sources I usually buy at Costco or Trader Joe’s.

Since Trader Joe’s and Costco are both twenty-five minutes from my house (thankfully in the same direction), I was really finding it to be too much of a time-sucker to go once a week.  So, I am going to plan meals two weeks at a time and shop every other week.  This past Monday was my first two-week shopping trip.

I am looking forward to the saved time, the saved gas, and the saved money.  No matter how specific my list, I always seem to grab one or two things “just in case” that I surely could have lived without.  The less often I have the option to buy, the better.  The only problem I can see so far is that two weeks worth of groceries don’t fit in my refrigerator :).  Luckily, my mom lives with us in her own apartment and has a very modestly stocked fridge.  I had to take part of it over!

On the weeks I don’t go to Trader Joe’s, I will most likely hit Aldi or Walmart that are both less than 5 minutes away to grab any fresh produce I need.  I’ll let you know how it goes . . .

And, now for the actual meals!


Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits, Maple Icing, fresh fruit

Overnight Crock Pot Steel Cut Oats, blueberries

Coffee Cake, fresh fruit and veggie smoothies

Yogurt, Oatmeal or granola, fresh fruit x 4


Bean burritos, Carrot Apple Slaw, veggies

Deviled Eggs, veggies and dip, apples

Apple Bean Bake, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins, veggies

Bean Bowls (with fresh tomato, avocado and cheese), veggies, oranges

PB sandwiches, veggies

Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans, fruit



Split Pea Soup, fruit

Cheesy Chili Soup, shredded cheese, fruit

Sloppy Joes (I use Laura’s recipe, but add a ton of grated carrots and chopped peppers), steamed corn, carrots

Lemon Tuna Cups, steamed peas

Cottage Mac & Cheese, apples

Pizza from Papa Murphy’s (gift certificate from Christmas :)!!), veggies


Do you usually shop every week, every other, once a month – what works for you?

I’ll be sharing my menu plan at I’m An Organizing Junkie today!

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