THEME WEEK | What’s for Dinner? Meal Planning a Month at a Time

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IMG_0053THEME WEEK | What’s for Dinner?

This week on SMB, we’re tackling the question every mom hears at least once a day:

“What’s for Dinner”

Join us all week long as our contributors weigh-in with different ideas and recipes related to the nightly dinner -time dilemma! 

 

Meal Planning a month at a time! Say what?!?  I know, right?  About six months ago I was reading the book “America’s Cheapest Family: Gets You Right on the Money” and was introduced to this concept.  My first thoughts were; no way, impossible, our schedule is too crazy,  are they insane!?!. I mean, it seems impossible to do – there are too many chaotic days, too many schedule changes, too many unknowns – how could I possibly predict what we would be doing three weeks from now.  BUT, the idea was stuck in my head, so I decided to try it.  For the last 6 months before the beginning of the month, I created a monthly meal plan for our meals…and I’m still shocked to say this, but we stick to it {mostly} and it totally works.

mealplan

There are so many pro’s to planning meals this way.  It means for a WHOLE MONTH, you don’t have to worry about answering the question “what’s for dinner”.  All your meals are planned out in one hour, one afternoon a month.  It makes for STRESS FREE shopping.  Since meals are planned, you know exactly what you need each week from the store…or better yet, try shopping every other week!  You can PLAN AROUND your busy nights.  On nights we have a sitter or a late night at the gym, I can plan meals accordingly using the crock pot or left overs.

And with everything, it would be successful unless I had learned something along the way.  Here are a few things I’ve learned that have helped make this successful in our house.

Plan for Free Nights: We call these “grab bag” nights.  They consist of left overs, sandwiches or whatever is in the house…and sometimes take out.

Be Flexible:  There are times where the meal you plan just isn’t going to get made.  Be flexible to switch your meals around as needed – if tonight needs to be a “grab bag”, switch the planned meal out with the next “grab bag” night on your calendar.

Set a Day and Time Aside to Plan your Meals: Find an hour or two one day a month to plan the whole next months worth of meals.  For me, it’s the last Sunday of the month when Dad is home with the kids so I can get away and plan…you know, while getting a pedicure.

Only Try One New Recipe per Week: This one might just be for me, but one month I planned a week with a bunch of new recipes and it was a total flop.  It was too stressful and only one meal was a hit with the kids.  So now I stick to this rule – cook the things I know that go over well and try to introduce one new meal each week.

Want to try it??  I challenge you!!  Give it a shot this month and let me know how it goes!

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