Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Meal plans for saving! (money AND my sanity)

Dinner is a drain. There, I said it. I get really tired of making dinner. It happens every gosh darn day! Sometimes I wish we could take a day off from dinner. But alas, the kids and the husband won't hear of it!

I used to be a non-planner when it came to meals. I would buy staple ingredients every week and freeze whatever meats were on sale that week, buy shelf stable items as I could afford to stock up, and buy way too many vegetables that would end up going bad before I used them.

It was wasteful, but at that point we were eating all conventionally grown items, so we could 'afford' the waste. Now that I've placed a priority on natural and organic items, the price tag is higher. In order to make up the difference, we had to eliminate waste.

And that's where meal planning comes in. Each week, I plan out the next week's dinners. Lunches are easy.... Leftovers go with the husband to work, Ansel and I eat leftovers if we have them or we eat something easy like sandwiches, and Kadin takes a sandwich to school each day. Breakfast is basic staple items.... oatmeal, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc. So those are just a regular part of my shopping.

This has definitely simplified my life. Because I know what I will be making for dinner, I find it easy to start dinner preparations earlier in the day, or overnight if necessary. There is no last minute panic about what to eat. I also don't wait too long to start, then realizing what I had decided on will take more time than I have available. I can also plan the more time consuming meals for the days of the week when I have more time to devote to them. It is really a load off my mind, AND, I find myself almost never wishing we could just order pizza or go out to eat.

I think I'll start posting my weekly meal plans, and then updating the blog most days about how things have turned out. Here's this week's plan:

Wednesday: Rotisserie chicken(the store-made kind, our natural foods grocery has them on sale), baked potatoes, and steamed broccoli.
Thursday: Pasta with bolognese sauce and salad.
Friday: Chicken mole, rice, and corn.
Saturday: Chicken rollers(a sale item at the store), ravioli(another store sale item), and salad.
Sunday: Burritos(this is a big batch make ahead item) and salad.
Monday: Red lentils, palak paneer, and rice.
Tuesday: Thai pasta salad.

I made bread last night, and will be keeping up with that this week. I also plan to make snickerdoodles for the boys and granola snacks for Ansel, as well as protein bars for the husband.

Off to the store we go! Let's hope I stay under budget again!


  1. Earth Fare does have good coupons this week, huh? I try to be good at the meal planning, most of the time! Tonight its breakfast for dinner I think. I better get my bacon baking! Oh, and you can't beat those Earth Fare rotisserie chickens. $4.50 right now for a whole chicken? CRAZY! I pretty much pick one up every time we go, even though I consider it my junk food chicken (I don't really think they are treated all that well, but they don't have hormones or antibiotics), my good ones I get local from Gingersnap Hollow Farms (pricey, but worth it).

  2. We're getting there slowly. I'm trying to reduce how much meat we eat so it's easier to buy higher quality stuff. But it's a process. Right now, the husband is still convinced more meat is better, so I'm working on it.

  3. I've been trying to meal plan (dinner only) the last few months and it definitely is a sanity saver. Do you have any place near you where you can buy local healthy meat in bulk or a place to store it? We have been doing that the last year and a half and it has been really nice. The beef (about 1/4 or so of a cow - we go in with a friend) works out to about $3/lb and we get chickens for about $2.25/lb if we buy in bulk (we go in with the same friend again and split 24 chickens).

  4. I have found a few farms in Georgia that will do it, but we don't have anything more than the freezer in our side-by-side fridge, and given that we're renting our house and don't know where we'll eventually end up or what kind of space we have, I don't really want to buy a big freezer. Had we stayed up in Virginia, it was definitely in the plans!

  5. Do you have a recipe for your Thai Pasta salad. I tried a really disappointing pasta salad last week, but I'm in the mood for a good pasta salad.

  6. That's frustrating! I replied to this and then I got an error.

    This is the recipe:

    I had some other stuff I posted, too, but now I forget what it was!

  7. Hmmm, I don't like cilantro (definitely not in the large quantity called for in this salad) so maybe I'm still searching!