I’ve experimented a lot with meal planning in the last few years. I originally started meal planning two weeks at a time, then one week, then monthly, then back to weekly. Meal planning definitely saves me money, but it can also cost more than it has to when you buy a month’s worth of items at once.
Generally I’m most comfortable with planning every two weeks but I’m expecting a busier than usual October so I planned for a month. I have a lot of meal choices here so instead of assigning each meal to a day I’ll keep a running list. This allows me to have the flexibility I need to buy some of the groceries now and some later to get the best possible price, especially on meat.
You’ll notice that while October has 31 days I don’t have that many meals planned, I did this on purpose. I only planned 26 meals to allow for leftover nights and nights when I’m craving something special (hey, it happens!)
I’ve done my best to provide links to recipes that aren’t my own. Sometimes they’re not the exact same as what I’m making but pretty close. Remember, flexibility is the key!
I’ve only provided dinners here as I don’t really plan lunch or breakfast, and a salad as a side can mean almost anything vegetable-related. Breakfast is usually waffles from the freezer, oatmeal or eggs and lunch is usually leftovers, sandwiches or something quick like that.
A * indicates that the meal is vegetarian. I strive to make 50% of our meals vegetarian and the * helps me stay accountable (for tips on cutting down your consumption of meat click here)
An (SC) indicates that all or part of this meal was designed for a slow cooker.
Chili Dog Casserole, salad – Place uncooked hot dogs in buns, cut into pieces about 1.5″ long. Place in casserole dish, cover with hot dog chili (chili-chili is a healthier options, but let’s face it, we’re talking hot dogs here), onions and cheese. Cover and cook at 350 for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with mustard or favorite condiments.
Taco Bar, salad (SC) – Filler and topping choices will include 1 lb beef or ranchy chicken (mix chicken thighs, taco seasoning and a packet of dry ranch dressing in crock, cook on low for about 4 hours, add cilantro in last 30 minutes), refried beans, corn, cheese, salsa, sour cream, etc.
Grilled burgers, salad, sweet potato fries – Plain beef or turkey burgers for the kids, lamb/feta for me and hubby. If we can’t find enough lamb to grind for burgers we’ll probably get beef and do mushroom/swiss burgers.
Roasted chicken quarters, roasted root veggies -I like to sprinkle the quarters with sazon and olive oil and marinate overnight. I also like a jerkish marinade (some lemon or lime juice, brown sugar, rice vinegar, oil). I cook long and low so they stay juicy and the skin gets crispy, around 350 for 90 minutes. This can also be prepared in the slow cooker, making it great for nights when you can’t babysit the oven.
*Homemade Veggie subs -French bread, condiments and cheese. Hubby calls these “salads on a roll”. Feel free to add meat if you find it reasonably priced.
*Beer & Cheese soup, homemade bread, salad
*Salad and baked potato bar
*Pizza bar (homemade dough)
Bacon, lettuce, avacado and tomato wraps in naan
*Lentils, Pasta & Greens, bread
Southwest Crock Pork Stew (SC), bread, salad
*Vegetable Lasagna, bread, salad
*Shells Stuffed with Broccoli, bread
Asian Beef Salad, rice, salad
*Angel Hair Pasta with Vegetables and Garlic Sauce, salad – We’ll skip the shrimp (allergies), use whole wheat pasta and substitute extra vegetables.
Saucy Pork Chops, salad
Lamb with Garlic Sauce , salad
*Corn Chowder (SC), bread, salad
*Moo Shu Stir Fry, noodles
Leftover stir fry night, rice or noodles – or possibly fried rice
Indian Butter Chicken, rice, naan
*Sweet Potato Burritos, salad
*Eggplant Parm, bread, salad