Meal Planning

Meal Planning was quite overwhelming to me, and try as I might to follow all of the super "easy" to follow plans, or 'fool proof' plans, it just wasn't working for me. I didn't like eating a casserole for dinner every night. I needed a better way to get well balanced meals into my family, and I just don't have enough freezer space for 30 frozen dinners. So, I came up with my own method. I hope it's helpful, if not, I hope you find a method that works for you.

Before you read this you have to forget all that you know about meal planning and freezing meals. I don't do it the "normal" way. Come to this open minded. This is meal planning and prepping, not everything is frozen, though I do use the freezer.

1. Look at your mothly calendar. I need to know what days I'll be out of town so I don't plan a meal that day, and  what days I'm having people over so I make a little extra. This way I know exactly how many meals to plan and how much.

2. I have a couple days of the week that are themed. This really simplifies things for me, and the boys like the tradition of it. We always do tacos on Monday. Come to our house on a Monday and we will be eating chicken tacos. We will be doing this for the rest of our lives, they are delicious! Come have them any Monday. (except this one monday in april, I switched it and we are having them on Wednesday when we have some friends for dinner.) Every Sunday night we do Breakfast for dinner. Yum! I also schedul one day a week as a "left-overs" day. I hate wasting food and money. So, because 3 days of the week I always know what I'm doing, I only need to come up with 4 new meals. 

3. Fill in 3 of the remaining days with things you know your family likes, and then make that 4th day a "new" meal. Finish out the rest of the month like this.

4. Now look through your pantry, see what you already have that you can use for your meals then make your grocery list.

5. Make note of what things you'll need to get mid-month. Like fresh fruit, bread, milk,eggs... 

Now I will give you my April meal plan so you can see what I mean, and then I'll tell you how I prepped it. (Sorry this is long, but I really hope it's helpful)

Ok, so now that I know WHAT I'm eating every day, I can prep for it. I chop all the veggies that I will have in every meal, Yep. Chop all the veggies. Put them in ziplock freezer bags and stick them in the freezer until you are ready to use them. I leave in my refrigerator all the veggies I will use for this week. They are chopped and ready to cook.

I also cook all of the ground beef that I will use for the month. I do this in a couple of different skillets so I can season them according to the meal. Then I let the cooked meat cool and put them in freezer bags. Again, leaving in the fridge what I will use for this week.

I will make the baked french toast, the chicken pot pie, and the enchiladas and freeze them. These are the only meals that will be fully made and frozen.

I will also make a bunch of frozen breakfast burritos and leave them in the freezer so that Kyle can grab them in the morning and have breakfast on those days he gets up before I do.

So there is still some cooking that happens every day. I find that if you cook and freeze chicken ahead of time it just gets dry in the thawing/ warming up process. You do still need to cook your veggie's, but they are prepped. And that's really the difference to me, being able to just grab what I need and get to cooking. Also, knowing what we are going to eat every day really helps me not throw together something lame last minute, or something super un-healthy.

Happy Meal Planning!


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