It’s so secret that I love to cook. I like being able to make my family dinner on a (somewhat) regular basis. With my crazy work schedule, that takes planning. See, on any given week, my schedule could look like this:
So you see how challenging dinner making can be? On days I’m off or early, it’s not a big deal as I’m at home for dinner. On days I close (work til 10:30p), it’s a little more tricky. I have to plan meals that my husband can make like a casserole, crock pot meal, or something that’s already cooked and just needs to be reheated.
I used to have a spreadsheet that listed the day of the month, my schedule, and what meal I would make. This was a pretty good system, but I could only plan a couple weeks at a time because I needed my work schedule. I only get it a couple weeks in advance, you see.
For some reason, I got away from this meal plan. I think it was because every day was a free for all. By that I mean I didn’t have a set cuisine type for each day. I just filled in the meals with what I had a taste for. This is a fine way to do things, but I found myself always picked the same meals. Meatloaf, beef stroganoff, and sloppy joes were big hits and always found their way into the plan.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about a new way of meal planning. With this new way, I took a calendar and assigned a cuisine or meal base to each day of the week. It looks something like this:
I wasn’t sure how it would work out, but I quickly found myself actually following the plan! I would grocery shop for the week on one of my days off, then prep any meals I needed to.
The nice thing about this meal plan is I can switch days around if necessary. For example, you’ll notice in the first row I had Steel Drums Chicken on Monday and Chicken Spaghetti on Tuesday. Steel Drums Chicken has to be grilled and Chicken Spaghetti is a casserole. Since I closed on Monday, it was easier for Jeff to reheat the casserole than it was to watch the baby and grill chicken. Who are we kidding? Jeff doesn’t grill. Well, not much anyhow.
One thing I have run into, oddly enough, is having too much food! If you look at my original post, you’ll see there are no days for leftovers. My plan, initially, was to have the leftovers for lunches or to only make enough for one meal. Well, some days I don’t want the same thing I had for dinner. My plan for August incorporated a leftover day. Know what happened? Yep, we ran out of meals for leftover day and I ended up having to order pizza, something I was trying to avoid with this whole plan!
It’s a work in progress.
For the most part, however, the meal planning has been a great project. It has allowed me to make some of Jeff’s favorite meals (read: meatloaf) as well as try out some of my pinned and cookbook recipes. I have more cookbooks than I have shoes.
I am still perfecting the system. I am trying to get healthier meals included instead of just ones that sound good (like Paula’s Glazed Bacon Wrapped Chicken which we had last night…YUM!). I am also trying to put the meals I make into My Fitness Pal so I can just add them when I eat them. That is a big downfall for me…eating dinner and then not logging it because I don’t want to put each ingredient in my log.
Some of the meals I have tried out with this new meal plan are Chicken Stir Fry, Swiss Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Balsamic Glaze, and Pulled Chicken Quesadillas. What are some meals you have pinned or bookmarked lately that you most want to try?