Meal Planning Ideas are great to maintain a budget! They also get kids involved in creating and cooking the meals which makes for less picky eaters.
So, last week I shared a weekly meal plan. It’s a new series Ellen from Family Around the Table and Heather from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks are trying on our blogs. There are several bloggers that have a weekly meal plan from their own recipes. I would not be so great with that. I’d fall short on side dishes and desserts. Unless I share all macaron recipes
Sharing these meal planning ideas will help me not only make a menu plan and grocery list. It will also help me pinpoint my shortfalls in recipes. Like side dishes. I don’t have very many of those. I make side dishes, but nothing impressive to share with. That will change as I share more and more meal planning recipes.
Factors to consider when meal planning.
Your current supply. It’s best to shop from your own pantry and fridge when making a meal plan. I am horrible at this. We have a chest freezer. I know pretty much what’s in there, but when I make the menu, I don’t usually consider that. Early on in the week I do. But the later it gets in the week and I finally sit down to do the meal planning for the week I forget what I said I was going to make from that freezer. It’s usually Thursday or Friday. And it’s in the evening. Not to mention I’m already tired because I go into the office Thursday and Friday.
For me, on the hardest things to figure out is who will be home to eat dinner. I’m not like you. We don’t have kids. But seriously, their schedules can be off the charts! Then there’s after work things. It’s like you need a sign up sheet to see who will be home for dinner. Add that to the calendar along with all the afterschool and extracurricular activities.
I was a picky eater growing up. There is no way I would have had mussels when I was a kid. For my parents, meal planning can help with picky eaters. Get them involved in making the menu. Ask them what they want to have for dinner. Better yet, let them help you cook it! Maybe they’ll be less picky if they’re more involved and have a vested interest in dinner.
If you combine your meal planning and grocery sales, you can really save some money. We did this and we also perused the meat aisle for those yellow sticker items. Otherwise known as marked down meat. We were kids of marked down meat. I don’t see as much lately, but when I do, and it’s a good deal, then I snack it up! If I’m not planning on cooking it soon, I pop it into a freezer bag and save it for later. This is just one of many ways how meal planning saves money.
I thought I would help with your meal planning efforts. I’m sharing a meal planning printable I made for you! This is a meal planning and grocery list template in a PDF. It has each day of the week on it with Appetizers/Snacks, Main Dish, Side Dish, Dessert on there. It also has a grocery list section with produce and meat/fish, baked, canned, and dry goods, frozen foods, dairy and deli, and misc. That way you can plan your meals and grocery list at the same time. How convenient it that? All in an effort to make meal planning easy for you.
I have a calendar for meal planning.
I used to have meal planning Google sheets, but found it easier to just use a meal planning spreadsheet on my laptop. My meal planning template has tabs for each month of the year. Why? Well, I’m a planner and helps keep delicious meal planning dinner ideas on the menu. If I make a dish that we love and I want to make it again, I will copy and paste it to a future month. Especially if it’s a recipe for the blog. Like my easy chicken cacciatore. That sucker has been on the menu at least once a month for well over a year. It took me that long to perfect the recipe to have all the flaves.
This week, I’m sharing some romantic date night ideas. At least they’re date night ideas in my head. The mussels I teased above are a recreate from our first anniversary dinner we had in Niagara, NY. Wine on Third was the name of the restaurant. It was an exceptional meal for our first anniversary. I hope they’re still in business. It was a great restaurant!! If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend checking them out.
I can’t believe Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, can you? I do not have romantic plans for us. It’s been difficult lately because his schedule has not been set. He transitioned from an associate to a manager recently and his schedule has been in limbo. Not necessarily set the way it should be. It wasn’t until this week that he finally has a set schedule so I can plan meals for every day of the week.
I’m teasing some good recipes. I know. Those smoked shrimp. Seriously, if you can smoke shrimp do. They are irresistible!! I couldn’t help but eat them. And the eggs. The smoke flavor. So so good. They’re great for date night OR game day! I can see myself and some of those eggs for March Madness. I might have to fire up the smoker for some of those eggs and some wings. I’m dying to make some smoked wings for basketball. Stay tuned for that recipe.
And you have to check out the Filet with Crabéarnaise recipes. It’s such a simple and delicious recipe. The béarnaise is made with a hand blender. Yes. A hand blender and a jar. It’s insanely easy! Then you stir in some crab and have an amazing sauce for a date night steak.
And if you haven’t tried a petite sirloin, do. It’s less expensive then a filet mignon, has more flavor, and just as tender. Kid you not. The first time we tried them, we thought they were filet. Nope! Petite sirloin. Our Walmart has them, so I’m pretty sure it’s a cut you can easily find in your store.
Yes, I know a leg of lamb is a bit much but think of the leftovers! Lamb tacos, biryani, sandwiches, curry. The possibilities are endless! I think I have some leftover lamb in the freezer from this roast. It was a huge roast and there’s just two of us in the house. Oh! Lamb Caesar salad! That would be so good. I might have to defrost that lamb and use it. Because those ideas sound divine. And don’t shy away from American lamb. It’s delicious!
Of course, it’s not Valentine’s Day with something sweet to eat! For us, that’s a crap shoot. I can’t do cake or cupcakes. He will eat one and call it a day. Maybe I’ll try some brownies or a lava cake. If I do lava cake, then I’ll need some ice cream to go with it. Now there’s an idea!
Of course, I can just leave it and we’ll have ice cream cones like we always do. But that’s no fun. I want to make something sweet this year that I can share with y’all. I’m thinking a cookie bar or some kind of cookie. He loves cookies! I’ll let you know what I decide, because you’ll see it in here!
I hope you are enjoying these meal planning ideas. I am having fun making a “menu” of recipes from my recipes and those from my friends Heather and Ellen.