I’m no Lucy Ricardo.  I have never planned meals.  Can you believe it?  I’ve been married for six years and rarely have I been truly ready for mealtime.  It didn’t bother me until Emma was born, and then I started wishing for something different – to be actually ready for dinner.  I was tired of staring blankly into the refrigerator and wondering, “What can I make for dinner?” when my stomach was already growling.  Not planning your meals is a sure way to keep you reliant on quick foods that aren’t necessarily good for you.  We shop at Costco and so bought a lot of chicken pot pies, frozen meals, and mixes.  We barbecued, and I ate a lot of rice (I actually love rice so this works for me – but my husband doesn’t care for it so it’s been different for him, lol).

I also have become bored with making the same meals over and over again.  Go-to recipes have been spaghetti and meatballs, meatloaf and rice, fried chicken, burritos, beef stroganoff, and pasta alfredo with chicken.  Good food but they get old eventually when you eat them every week for years.  ;-)

I hope my mother-in-law isn’t reading this post.  LOL

So I decided last month, in the midst of my pregnancy starvation (man, I am hungry ALL THE TIME!), that I was going to try some new recipes and have a PLAN.  So I looked through my way-understocked pantry and freezer and wrote down all of the main ingredients that I had.  Then I began searching slow cooker recipe blogs; I had decided to start with crockpot recipes since they’re easy.  I searched for recipes with the meat and ingredients I had and started adding them to a calendar.

Oh, this is the online daily meal planner (free!) I’ve been using to get organized and I love the way it’s working so far!  I’ve just been adding crockpot and casserole recipes along with the link to the recipe under the day I think I might want to eat it.  I’ve added a pizza night and leftovers night, too.  What I like about this particular calendar is that I can drag and drop the meals onto different days if I change my mind (which I usually do) – I don’t print the calendar out because I want to be flexible.  Here’s a screen shot for this week (click to see it full size):

Monday: Leftover night (pasta)
Tuesday: Crockpot Cranberry Chicken (recipe)
Wednesday: Twice-baked Potato Casserole (recipe)
Thursday: Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwiches
Friday: Pizza night
Saturday: Chicken pot pie (recipe)

I planned for the entire month and made a list with the ingredients I would need to buy.  It worked out well and wasn’t too expensive, either!  I like this way of planning our meals.  :)  And I’ve already tried three new recipes, two of which were keepers!  I’ll share those in the near future.

Hopefully I’m able to keep this up.  I am planning on making extra to freeze in the months before I’m due to give birth so that I won’t have to think about meals, though.

Do you plan meals?  What’s your method?

This post linked to the Menu Plan Monday Linky at OrgJunkie.com!

I am not affiliated with the free Meals Matter planner – just wanted to share that I like it!

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11 Responses to My First Real Attempt At Planning Meals

  • lasagna, roast in the crock pot, and honey garlic chicken legs are great go tos for those post baby meals. They make large dishes you can split up into individual sizes when you need a mean at 4am while your up feeding the new baby :)

    • I still have yet to make a lasagna from scratch but I would love to try. :) Maybe I’ll try a crockpot version first.

      If you want to share links to any of these recipes (if they’re online), I would LOVE that!

      • Lasagna…

        ground beef, peppers, onions, brown meat,add in (if you like) Celery slices, mushroom slices, and tomato sauce (largish can) and diced tomatoes (largish can) while that’s simmering. You can add in garlic salt/powders,basil, oregano and celery salt (or not). These will cook up and meld the flavours while you are either putting your noodles into your lasagna pan or boil the noodles (pre cooked? way easier). layer of noodles, sauce and meat layer, noodles. then layer a container of cottage cheese, top that with Shredded mozzarella and top (if you like) with grated parmesean. It’s all about what you like or not. I don’t use any of the veggies anymore, and hubbie being deathly allergic to mushrooms. Bake at about 425F in the oven until the top cheese layer is nice and melted and browning up.

        It usually fits in a huge 9X15Glass serving pan.

  • good luck!! I need to start planning meals a little better!

  • good for you- we sound a lot a like- but your ‘go-to’ meals sound better than mine! (spagetti, bbq chicken, hamburger helper, tacos) LOL Signing up at that site now!

    • *Ahem* Guess what I made for dinner tonight?

      Hamburger Helper.

      LOL LOL I had PLANNED on making crockpot cranberry chicken but ended up messing around, crafting, and blogging too much. Oh well!

  • My hubby has been telling me for years that I should plan the meals ahead of time. I have yet to do it!
    I’m all about the yummy, yet easy to make recipes. I love the Bisquick recipes. Many need a little doctoring up with spices, etc, but my family always loves a Bisquick meal.

  • I used to plan a menu, but got out of the habit. It really was a lot easier when I did, and I need to start doing it again. Maybe I will take inventory this week.

  • Ooh, I have a really good lasagne recipe from the Moosewood cookbook… I’ll find that for you. My current method is just writing it on my calendar, but this is great. Thanks for sharing!

    • No problem, I hope it helps you! :) I need to get some good cookbooks, I don’t even have a big basic Betty Crocker cookbook! That’s just wrong. haha If you have any special recommendations, I can add them to my paperbackswap wishlist!

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