When I said I would post “Part II” on Saturday, I forgot that my husband would be out of town…with our camera. Oops.
I managed to take one decent photograph and clean it up a bit for you. I’ll get to that in a minute.
The way I go about putting together a meal plan is pretty easy. Typically, I try to use a few meals I’ve made before, a couple new recipes, and one or two super easy meals. I leave one or two nights free for eating out or using up leftovers.
As I read various food blogs, magazines, or pick up recipes from friends, I save them. Ideas I find online get bookmarked and stored in my “Recipes” folder. When I find something in a magazine, I rip it out and stash it, along with any hard-copy recipes that I’ve gotten from friends or family, in a folder in my desk drawer. When I sit down to plan the menu for the next week, I sift through these saved recipes for inspiration.
I try to pick recipes with ingredients that are mostly on hand. If I really want to try something that requires a lot of new ingredients, I’ll make that the one recipe of the week that calls for a lot of new purchases. This keeps my grocery bill down and helps me cycle out the ingredients in my freezer and pantry.
After I’ve chosen my new recipes for the week, I come up with some of our favorite meals that I know will go over well. By mixing new recipes with old standards, I achieve two things:
1) I know we’ll be happy with more than half of the meals for the week. 2) I don’t put too much pressure on myself. Two new recipes is manageable, any more might drive me to consume a bit more wine than usual.
Especially when you first start meal planning, rely on some of your favorite recipes to get you through the week. Just like with dieting or an exercise regime, if you attempt to go crazy right at the beginning, you’ll never be able to maintain it and will fall right off the wagon. Slow and steady my friends!
So, without further ado, here it is…my super technical planning:
As I’m planning, I try to evaluate which meals will have a lot of leftovers, then attempt to add another meal that will use them up. For example, I found whole chickens on sale and bought two. I’m planning to roast one tomorrow night for Sunday dinner. To use up all that chicken, I’ll make biscuits and gravy later in the week and turn those leftovers into another meal.
The two recipes I’m trying this week are the Thursday and Saturday options – I provided links to the original recipes in case you’re interested. The side dishes are all simple choices – rice & peas on Sunday, salads, easy sweet potato fries (cut ’em up, toss in a little olive oil and salt, roast at 425 for 25 minutes), simple steamed broccoli.Sunday – Roast Chicken with Risi e Bisi Monday – Beef Pot Pie with Salad Tuesday – Gorgonzola-Spinach Turkey Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries Wednesday – Chicken & Biscuits with Gravy and Broccoli Thursday – Warm Spinach Salad with Sausage & Potatoes Friday – Out to Dinner Saturday – Cauliflower Cheese Pie with Shredded Potato Crust with Salad
The links for the roast chicken and beef pot pie will bring you to variations on these that I have already blogged about. Tuesday night’s dinner – the gorgonzola-spinach turkey burgers – will be my next entry.
Hopefully this gives you some insight into my thought process as I’m meal planning. I hope you’ll give it a try. The few minutes it takes to evaluate what I have on hand and sort through my recipes truly does save me time and money, plus I end up getting to try new things because I’ve planned for them.