My Meal Planning System

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Hello!  It’s about that time of year again.  While schooling doesn’t completely stop for us in the summer, we do take longer breaks and we do a much smaller amount on the days we have school.  When we start up our full schedule in August it always takes a few weeks for re-entry.  I’m sure that no one else has that problem, though, right?  Winking smile  We also are heading into starting our evening activities.  Our kids go to AWANA and participate in Tae Kwon Do.  Boo also takes piano and we occasionally add a class at the YMCA.  Buddy will play Flag Football in a few weeks.  I don’t think we would try to have so many activities if we also had the kids in school all day.  Because I am neither musical nor sports-oriented, this is a way to make sure that they learn those skills from someone who knows what they are doing.  It does take some organization on my part, though, to pull it all off.  My husband comes home from work around 5:15 and most of the evening activities start at 6:00.  If I don’t have a meal plan we either don’t eat until almost 9:00 at night or we end up eating a lot of fast food.  I thought I would explain my meal and grocery planning system, because it saves me tons of time…and I am always on the lookout for some extra time!

A few years ago I purchased several clear business card holders (the kind you put into a binder) and some blank business cards.  There are ten spaces in each business card holder.  I wrote the days of the week under seven of the spaces on five sheets and then numbered the sheets 1-5.  This way I can plan for five weeks worth of suppers.  I went through my recipes and found all of the ones that we liked and used.  I wrote the name of the recipe and its location on one side of the card. On the opposite side of the card I wrote the ingredients and any sides for that meal.  Every time I find a new recipe I do the same thing for the new recipe.  I currently have about 70 different cards.  When they are placed into the holder, it looks like this:

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I also have a few cards that say things like “Away from Home”, “Eat Out”, and “Leftovers”.  One day a month I sit down and do my meal planning.  I look at the calendar and put the non-recipe cards into any day that we will be away from home or eating out.  Then, looking at my calendar, I start placing meal cards into the pockets.  If we have a day that I know I will need a quick meal I choose an easy recipe.  I also look over the week to see if I have too many of any type of food.  If I see that I have three Mexican meals in one week I might quickly switch some cards around. 

As you can see in the lower, right-hand corner I also include one recipe a week for a special homemade dessert. 

Next, I print out my grocery list.  I created my own with items that my family uses organized the same way our grocery store is.  It looks like this:

Copy of Grocery List 2011

I grab a highlighter and then flip my business card holders over so that I can see the ingredient side:

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Then I use my highlighter to mark anything on my grocery list that I will need.  If, for example, it is something like a pound of hamburger I also add a tally mark each time I see “hamburger” in the ingredient list.  Soon, my list starts to look like this:

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When I am in the store, I make a checkmark in each box as I put the item in my cart:

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My menu plans hang on the refrigerator so that I can easily check them to see what I need to thaw or where the recipe is located:

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I used to plan my menus out on paper, but this cards system saves me SO MUCH time!  I don’t have to look through my recipe books or box each time I plan the menus.  If we don’t eat one of the meals sometime during the month or if something comes up and I need an easier meal, I can just switch cards around.  It used to take me most of the afternoon to plan my menus and write out my grocery list.  When I did menus and groceries earlier this month using my cards it took me less than half an hour. 

I am offering my grocery list for free today.  I have the Excel file which would allow you to use my format but modify it for your family.  I am also putting a link to the pdf form in case your computer doesn’t like my version of Excel.  You can find the Excel file here and the pdf file  here

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6 responses »

  1. Pingback: Crestview Heights Academy

  2. Pingback: 5 Simple Steps to Easy Meal Planning - HEDUA

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