February 29, 2012 10:41 am

Meal Planning

I have finally figured out the key to family dinners, and me helping to prepare it (or preparing it entirely).

Meal planning.

(“Duh!” you are saying. I know.)

Meal plan calendar

Apparently, all it took was me printing out a calendar and writing in dinner ideas. (I like the ones from Waterproof Paper, as they are full-page, free from ornamentation, and have spaces big enough to write in.) That way, if I know Thursday is “Stir Fry Night,” I can start the rice and chop veggies before Daniel gets home, so when he arrives all he has to do is throw the veggies in the wok for a few minutes.

It has revolutionized my life. For real.

My problem was that it would get to be 5:15pm and I would start asking myself what I/we should make for dinner. If you are not already aware, this is a horrible time to plan dinner. I’m at least kind of hungry by then (I eat lunch at noon, usually) if not flat-out starving, I have no energy after taking care of Wesley all day, and I’m really bad at coming up with ideas for what to eat.

The nutrition planning solves all this! If I know what dinner will be, I can mentally prepare for prepping it instead of running out of steam by then, it makes Daniel less grouchy because he doesn’t have to come home from a long day of work and then spend forever making dinner, and we all sit around the table like a Real Family instead of scattering about the house with TV or the computer or a book.

I only plan about two weeks at a time, and stuff does get shifted around due to plans changing or too many leftovers or whatever, but it’s been a good system so far and I’m very pleased with it.

Some of our dinner ideas are: Spaghetti, stir fry, quinoa patties, “Moroccan food,” homemade pizza, and different soups.

So! If you are like me and have trouble thinking of things to make at dinnertime, spend about 15-20 minutes every two weeks to write down some dinner ideas, and you too can have a revolutionized life!

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  • Amanda says:

    I’ve been talking about doing this for a long while. I always find some excuse not to. In fact, I stopped to check my feed reader to take a break from looking for recipes to try it again! I never know what to make for dinner. I’m always tired. I hate to cook. I only know how to make a few things. I never know if my husband will be at home to eat. I never know what night we’ll both be home together. We not usually home together to eat. Etc etc etc …

    Blah. I should just try it already. Good luck to you for making it work! :D

  • Meggan says:

    Amanda – Write down the few things you know how to cook! We usually have a “breakfast for dinner” night too, like pancakes or french toast, or an egg-sausage-english-muffin sandwich. Easy!

    I don’t like to cook either, so just being able to look at the calendar and be like, “Oh, today is baked potatoes” makes things so much easier. I know I can just poke them with a fork and pop them in the microwave for five minutes. No thought involved. I can’t guarantee this planning method will work for you, but for me it takes all the thought out of it and that’s what was holding me back.

  • Amanda says:

    The benefit of cooking for one – it means that I can have a ham, spinach and cheese toasted sandwich with a piece and fruit for dinner. Yay, dinner in under five minutes! ;)

  • Melissa says:

    We have the exact same problem at my house. I’d love to plan out meals ahead of time and have thought about this before, but my husband NEVER wants to eat what I do. It’s ridiculous. I go grocery shopping weekly and buy all the things I think we’ll need for meals that week, but we always end up eating something else because my husband never wants what we agreed on and I refuse to take that much time to cook only for me. He’s worse than my toddler in terms how picky he is with food!

  • Melissa says:

    Yay meal planning!!! I remember when I discovered this too and it was definitely revolutionary, if not a “this is so simple, why didn’t I do this before?!” haha. :D

    I’ve been experimenting with some other meal planning things that I might blog about eventually, because I’m always trying to find the most efficient ways to get a good dinner on the table instead of scrambling as well.

    Thanks for the link to those printables btw, the calendars are nice!

  • Gretchen says:

    I kind of do this before I go shopping for the week. I love to cook so I always have way to many ideas! This is way more organized then my random notes on the back on scrap paper. Usually our dinners make for good lunch leftovers as we both bring out lunches to work and some of them have to be durable enough to put in a backpack for a day in the woods.