If you are not already planning meals for your family, it is a wonderful thing to do and will help you to be organized when you go shopping. It will also help you to save money, and keep down stress since you have a meal plan for each day at home. No more meal times where you don’t know what you’re going to serve your family! Today I am going to share with you how I plan our family’s meals.
First of all, I plan our meals two weeks at a time. I do this because I shop at several different stores to gather the food items we need at the best prices, while still providing high-quality nutrition. If I could, I would plan a month at a time, but everything would not fit in our freezer if I did this. I also don’t only do one week of planning at a time because if I did this, I would be rushing to several different stores every week. So, how it currently is, I make a big shopping trip every two weeks, and a smaller shopping trip in between where I pick up fresh produce and maybe some other refrigerated items like milk that we use to make kefir. But you may find that it works for you to plan only one week in advance, or to plan a whole month. Do what works best for you in your situation. However, if you are just starting meal planning, it may be much easier to plan your meals for only one week ahead.
I start out by checking our local store ads for what meat and poultry is on sale. I then look at the recipes my family likes to have and plan meals with the discounted meat/poultry as the main ingredient. To save money further, I usually plan at least one homemade soup and one homemade pizza per week. I also may plan a meal that is based on lentils or beans once a week. But the majority of our dinner meals are high protein meals, which usually include beef or chicken.
When I am planning the meals, I write each meal down on a day of my choosing on a meal-planning sheet I have printed out from my Motivated Moms Planner. I then type up the ingredients I need for that meal on a shopping list I keep on our computer. The shopping list is organized by store, with a section for each store. I type the ingredient under the store name where I typically buy it. This makes for a much easier and organized shopping trip! I also put a section for “Week 2” under the store where we go to buy our produce in the second week of my meal planning. I am sure to put the produce here for the meals that we will have in our second week, that way I will have the produce fresh for those meals. As a side note, we also keep a magnetic shopping list that we write down things we have run out of. Our older girls are also trained to write down things that we have run out of or are getting low on.
For Sundays, I like to plan easy crock pot meals I can throw in before church. This gives me somewhat of a break on the Lord’s Day. When we are going to have fellowship meals at church, I will plan a meal I know is good and make extra of that for the fellowship meal on the day we are having it for dinner as a family.
The next part of my planning is for breakfasts. We don’t eat cold cereal here, so breakfasts are all planned too. We have things like muffins, coffee cakes, pancakes, and sometimes eggs and bacon. I usually look to see what fruit is on sale so that I might include some of that in our planned breakfasts.
For lunch, we currently just have sandwiches, unless there are some leftovers (which is rare). We make homemade bread in the bread machine on most days, and then it’s ready for lunch. I just don’t have time to cook any sort of meal during the day because I’m so busy teaching my children their school lessons.
Something else you can do, if you like, is allow your children to pick a meal once a week. I allow our children to take turns picking one breakfast, one dinner meal, and one dessert each week (we only have a dessert on the Lord’s Day–which helps to show our children that the Lord’s Day is a special day). They really enjoy this, as they get to pick a favorite meal to have, and they usually help to make it too! I also don’t always stick to the exact meal I have planned for a day on my meal plan. Sometimes I switch days around if something comes up, which is perfectly fine.
I know this is a lot of information, but if you can get organized in your meal planning, it will really help you out as a homemaker! Please feel free to ask me any questions you have.