October 5, 2010

How to Plan a Meal, Prairie Style

Shortly after the birth of my son 2 years ago, I discovered the wonderful (addictive) world of blogs, particularly those related to homemaking.  I discovered an extremely useful tool- the Weekly Meal Plan.  Many homemakers plan their weekly menus to save money, waste less food, and eat healthier.  Living an hour away from town, trips to the grocery store are limited to once a week.   It is also less work for me to plan all my meals once a week, instead of trying to think of new meals every day.  I almost always have some meat thawing or thawed in my fridge, so when it's time to cook, I don't have to spend half an hour defrosting it in the microwave.  Of course, I don't always stick to the plan exactly, but I know I have the ingredients to pull together several meals, and that gives me peace of mind.

The basic directions for meal planning are:
1) Check out what you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. 
2) figure out what meals you could make with those items, and write them down
3) make a store list for other items you need
4) go to the grocery store and purchase those items
5) write out your weekly meal plan; make sure the meals that use elements that will go bad quickly are closer to the beginning of your week

That's it! 

Here's what our week is looking like so far:

Sunday- ate in town after church
Monday- Chicken and Dumplings, Peach Crisp
Tuesday- BBQ Beef Ribs, Sweet Corn, fresh fruit, homemade honey ice cream
Wednesday- Cabbage Casserole
Thursday- Steaks or Burgers (depending on whether I can find some steaks in the freezer), potatoes (fried or baked), sauerkraut
Friday, Saturday- in town

These meals can be lunch or dinner.  If I cook at lunch, I usually won't cook dinner, and vice versa.  Whether I cook at lunch or at dinner really depends on what's going on that day and when I have time in the kitchen.  I almost never plan breakfast, unless we've got a bunch of guests.  We usually eat eggs for breakfast, in one form or another.
Do you plan your meals in advance?  How do you do it?

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