Meal Planning

Obsession Confession: I have to know what's for dinner a week ahead of time. I have had this obsession for quite some time. OCD, remember?? Uh huh.... Each week Most weeks, Kyle and I plan out our meals for the week and then I go to the grocery store. I take a piece of notebook paper, usually from one of my handy dandy notebooks of which there are about 20 floating around in this house (another obsession: pretty spirals)... and make a column on the right hand side that looks something like this:

S -
M -
T -
W -
R -
F -

** No Saturday, huh? Usually we'll either eat out that night or we'll go to the store as a family on Saturday to get the things we want for the weekend. Special snacks, desserts, fresh meat to grill, what-have-you. **

Then, next to each day I write a meal for that day. After the nail pulling meal planning is done, I make my grocery list on the left side of the page. Kinda typical, yes? BUT... I just don't think it's the best way to do it. I'm always looking for ways to improve! Recently, with this new organizational/cleaning kick I'm on... I've seen ideas from others and I wanted to share a few of those ideas as well as things I've used in the past.

I keep recipes everywhere. I love trying new recipes, but I find that with Reagan I have curbed my new recipe use. She is at a point where she will touch nothing green, including green onions which are a staple in my home. I LOVE onions - all kinds... but my husband? Not so much. Green onions he will eat, so they go in everything! But if the green is on Reagan's plate she won't touch it! So, I find myself either picking out the green or pulling her portion out before putting the green in (if possible). Make her eat the onions, you say? I do this on most foods, make her at least attempt to eat it... but with onions it is a texture issue and I just think it's torture to make her eat something that makes her mouth revolt. Stubborn not eating is one thing... texture issues are another. Although, don't tell her this! This is my secret, or before I know it EVERYTHING will be a texture issue because we all know my princess is smart. So, back to recipes... I keep them bookmarked online, I keep them in a folder in My Documents, I keep them in books in the pantry, I keep them in my recipe box. I have recipes all over. I need a list to keep up with the recipes and where they all are! Kyle would kill me if I made one more list.... Of course, because I am a freak, I mean, OCD I can't put just any piece of paper with a handwritten recipe in my recipe box... oh no... it has to be on the recipe card and it has to be written in fine tip black Sharpie. And it has to be filed correctly. See where this can be taxing?!

Once upon a childless time, Kyle and I kept a tin with meal ideas in it. I typed up all the meal ideas we love to eat and cut them out into little strips. I folded the strips up and placed them in the tin. Every Sunday afternoon, we would pick 5 strips each. We would look at our picks and could put one back immediately if we didn't want that meal. Leaving us each with 4 strips. Then we would get to veto one of each others strips leaving us with 6 meals. After a while though, we were bending the rules and just using the tin as an idea generator. Then one day I needed something to keep fresh garlic in, so the tin was re-purposed and the strips thrown away.

Recently, while creating my new Home Organization Binder (which I'm hoping to debut early next week!!), I came up with this menu plan:

I'd like to fill this out, keep it in my binder and then transfer the groceries needed over to my new grocery list (pic below). Redundant? Yes, but then I can keep this page and add a new one on top each week and have a running list of not only what we ate each week but what ingredients I needed for it. If you have started to realize how many lists I have already, you'll just know that writing my groceries down twice isn't a big deal.

Grocery List:

I am also hoping my new labeled grocery list will help me not only remember more of what I need to write on the list, but help me not backtrack through the grocery store 80 times. If this doesn't work, please know that I WILL make my list to fit my local HEB and design it by aisles... :D Guess I need one for Wal-Mart too then... hmm....

One of my fave websites is Kevin & Amanda. Have you visited Amanda? If you haven't, you should, she is uh-mazing! She has an awesome blog about EVERYTHING! Her blog has recipes, blog tricks, photography tips, weight loss info, scrapbooking ideas, amazing free fonts you can download, and two super cute Boston Terriers that make her site so cute!! She also does giveaways that are to die for... although I never win those, ha! Well, Amanda recently posted What's For Dinner? 6 Weeks of Ideas. I have never been in meal planning heaven before, but today I found it. Not only does she include recipes, but she has PICTURES!!! I *love* her!! What I love most about this post, and what I will take away from it is this idea:

Amanda says:
"I sorted the recipes into categories like soups, pasta, chicken, red meat, and seafood and tried to plan one meal from each category for each week, so we’d have something different every night. And I didn’t plan it out down to the day, so after grocery shopping for the week, we would have a few options available to pick from on a day to day basis, depending on what we were in the mood for that night. Oh, and I definitely made sure to include at least one “quick and easy” recipe every week!"
GENIUS! Pure genius.

So I'm thinking this... Super cute note card box with dividers (much like my current recipe box) but meal ideas in the box only (with suggested sides). Then I can either use it as inspiration or pick the first one in the tab for each week, put it in the back and go again the next week. OK, going on the project list!

Then, my next plan is to blog my menus for you - with, *drum roll please* PICTURES! So, this is an idea I'm hoping to start week after next. This week is pretty much over and next week is Spring Break so, I'll start week after next.

And back to new recipes... I have a friend who finds and makes a new recipe each week. I should do this. I should try this. You never know until you try, right?

So, projects from this post:
  • Make a meal planning note card box
  • Update all my recipes in my recipe box
  • Make a list of 6 weeks worth of meals
  • Add "Recipes to Try" & "Recipes to Die For" section to my blog
  • Start posting menu plans, recipes and pictures week after next
Stay posted!