There is something behind our cabinet door that friends and family seem to get a kick out of.
It's a weekly meal plan.
Really, you'd think that meal planning would not be so interesting or exciting, but ours is. You know why?
Because we eat the SAME THING week after week after week! It goes like this:
Monday: Stir fry for lunch, pasta for dinner.
Tuesday: Spaghetti for lunch, hash for dinner.
Wednesday: Tacos for lunch, pizza for dinner.
Thursday: Sandwiches for lunch, soup for dinner.
Friday: Chef's Special for lunch, burgers on the grill for dinner.
Breakfast Everyday: Eggs for me, granola or eggs for Hubs.
Sunday breakfast: Baked oatmeal.
Saturday is usually a crapshoot because we do different things on the weekend; sometimes I'll make something special, like pancakes or french toast for breakfast. Sunday, likewise is uncertain, but I would like to still have a plan- maybe a crockpot meal that can cook while we're in church.
Reasons I love this:
1. Making the meal never takes more than an hour. Frequently it only takes 15-30 minutes, and I can do other things while it's cooking.
2. Flexibility; just because we have pizza every week doesn't mean it has to be pepperoni. I make variations on these basic meals depending on what is available and/or on sale.
3. Our grocery list is short. It usually includes milk, a few items that we've run out of (cooking spray, freezer bags, coconut, etc), and Manager's Specials at Kroger. Last week I bought eggs, flour, two tomatoes, an onion and five pineapples because they were on sale. Note: meat used is almost always venison or chicken (home shot/raised)- grains and cheeses are bought in bulk. A lot of the produce is also home canned/frozen, and I make the small amount of bread we eat each week- tortillas, and pizza crust, and cookies for company. I keep a bucket of multi-purpose bread dough in the fridge, which I use for pizza crust and/or bread for sandwiches and house guest emergencies.
4. It's easy to reduce expenses. I know what I buy every week, so if I can strategically tweak a recipe, I've permanently cut a hunk off our grocery bill. For example: switching from frying fish to grilling burgers.
Reasons Hubs loves this:
1. There is always a hot, delicious meal waiting for him. Usually the table is set and all he has to do is sit down and eat. There are no "sorry I forgot" or "it took longer to cook than I thought" or "I ran out of _____," excuses from me when he gets home from work. And rarely do I tell him to just "go find something out of the fridge". There really isn't anything snacky at our house anyway.
2. He gets to look forward to each meal. Almost without exception, every Wednesday he sits down to lunch and says, "I love taco day." Tuesday is "cookie day" and Friday is "burger night". This makes meal time a lot of fun for both of us.
So really, stop buying all those cookbooks that claim to be "easy" or "fast" or "cheap". Stop paying for meal planning services that make you cook something new every day. Stop buying unhealthy convenience foods because you "don't have time to cook".
Basically, if you are the chief cook & bottle-washer in your home... DON'T BE HARD ON YOURSELF.
Do the easy thing and take a few minutes to plan a simple weekly meal plan, tailored to your and your families' needs. Make small changes every week until you've got it down and it really is easy, cheap, and fast.
Have you tried meal planning before? Was it hard or easy?