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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

Image via Wikipedia

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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