Thursday, February 23, 2012

How Do You... Meal Plan?

How do you plan what your family is going to eat?  

When I menu plan, I work two weeks at a time.  I grocery shop every other week so it makes sense to plan meals the same way.  I start with a piece of notebook paper and fold it in half the long way.  I write the days Monday through Sunday in the margins with one week on one side of the paper and the other week on the other side.  If I know of plans we have for a certain day (co-op or a birthday party, etc.) I'll pencil that in, too, since that could determine how much time I have to cook or if after-dinner clean-up needs to be speedy. 

Next I start filling in meals.  Over the summer, I made a list of over fifty meals choices.  It is not as varied as it sounds.  Spaghetti, pasta pie, and skillet pasta were separate entries on the list, as were Mexican casserole, taco soup, and bean & rice burritos.  At first I made an effort to try something different every night, but once I made everything on the list once, I loosened my standards and we  mostly rotate through our favorites. 

Once the schedule is made, I post it on the refrigerator, but it is not strict!  If I forget to pull ground beef from the freezer, I scan the list for a substitute.  If plans are changed and we need to go out unexpectedly, I switch meals with another night.  Writing a meal on a particular day does not set it in stone. 

Meal planning is an easy way to ensure my family eats a planned meal every night and not be left with what I can scramble to throw together at five o'clock! 

How do you plan for meal times?    Let us know in the comments! 
If you have a question for a future "How Do You...?" post, share that in the comments, too.        


  1. I should really know how to meal plan by now...but meal planning is always a struggle. I found that I was/am wasting food because I didn't/don't plan in advance - especially those times that we would be out of the house or youth group, husband away, etc. Now, I try to ask my husband his schedule and figure out our family events in order to make a weekly plan. I like the idea of the 50 meals - I've been wanting to have a recipe box for most used meals (quick, easy to pull out) from my myriad of cookbooks and clippings.

  2. Funny, it's friday, my weekly menu planning day. I look online to see what is "on sale" in the flyers. Since most of our meat is bought from our local "organic" sources twice a year our freezer is usually pretty stocked with that. From there I look up a few sites that inspire me to make healthy meals ( and are my latest favourites). Add to that the never ending list that is on my fridge and very early saturday I sneak out without the 4 children to beat the rush. We enjoy a very diverse menu because I LOVE to cook and blog the goodies I find. I'm thinking this week might include more healthified family favourites like buffalo chicken tenders with caesar salad, fish tacos, curry frittata, sweedish meatballs and I'm not sure what else just yet...

  3. I pretty much have the a very similar system to yours. I don't live by it and love to be spontaneous at times and just let of the schedule and go out to eat! We don't plan for lunch or breakfast as those meals are pretty much the same every day.

    Questions for you:

    Have you started planning next years curriculum and how do you avoid end of winter/early spring burn out when homeschooling?

  4. You know how I meal plan. VERY boring. Things have been so crazy with the new baby, and Brian's weird work schedule, and out-of-town guests...we're kinda just grabbing and cooking. Maybe...maybe I'll start being more creative. I am fairly certain the kids and I are going to take back over the grocery shopping in a few weeks. Scary. And a start. I probably missed this...but how do you keep/organize your well used/liked recipes (,


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