At the encouragement of friends and family, I have decided to go ahead and give this Menu Planning idea I had, a shot. For years I have heard fellow teachers, friends, and of course my mom (who has been my greatest inspiration for this idea), complain about not knowing what to make for dinner. “You mean you don’t already know what you are making?” I would think.
I couldn’t imagine getting home after a long day and having to come up with a meal, possibly going to the grocery store, and then cooking!
Since I have lived on my own, I have always made a list of what I would eat each night, followed up with a grocery list of necessary ingredients. I would make ONE trip to the store each week, freezing anything that would spoil by the end of the week and defrosting it the night before I needed it.
When I explained this process to my mom, she kindly let me know that I was crazy to think that I would be able to do this once I had a family, full-time job, and a home to take care of. Well, now I have most of those things (no kids, just a dog), and I cannot imagine NOT planning our meals each week. The last thing I want to do after teaching all day, is go to the grocery store where my patience will be further tested by slow cashiers, whining children, and yelling parents (no offense to any of you who may fall into one of those categories).
So instead, I spend approximately one hour a week planning a healthy menu and coming up with a grocery list. Sometimes Greg (my husband) helps, sometimes not so much.
Saturday is grocery-shopping day. Greg usually comes with, although he is currently training for a marathon and I have been
going while he is out for his run. It is actually faster without him, because I can avoid the infamous “impulse buys” that he so loves to make. My greatest gripe about going alone, is standing in line at the deli counter. This is usually his job and I have absolutely no patience for the line, and the old ladies who insist on getting a quarter pound of 4 different meats and two different cheeses. Other than that, I am usually in and out of the store (list in hand!) within half an hour to 45 minutes.
Ok, so onto how the lists and menus will work.
- These menus are only dinner menus, so you will need to add to the grocery lists for lunch and breakfasts.
- That being said, we always buy lunch meat, bread and cheese for sandwiches, Greek yogurt and trail mix for snacks, and eggs and oatmeal for breakfast. Feel free to follow suit!
- I NEVER cook every night of the week. I actually try to cook only two nights during the week. You should adjust the amount of food you buy for each meal accordingly. For example, if a recipe calls for 4 chicken breasts and you have four people in your family, you will need 8. However, if you only have two people in your family, keep the quantity the same.
- Saturdays you will see “U-pick Quick Fix”. These are quick to prepare meals with few ingredients. I’ve found that because so many families are busy with sports and other activities, most people eat out one night a week, or just make peanut butter and jelly, breakfast for dinner, or grab a bowl of cereal (all things I detested eating for dinner growing up). The U-Picks, are really there in case you are not going out, ordering pizza, etc. (Greg and I very much look forward to Pizza Night because it is the one night that we really let ourselves eat what we want).
- You can arrange the meals however you want and substitute the U-Pick’s for anything you may not like. You can also refer to past menus for substitutions.
- I think that does it! You can always e-mail me if you have questions, but just know that cooking isn’t rocket science. The planning is the hardest part! Throw some music on, pour yourself a glass of wine, and feel good about making a healthy, home-cooked meal!