Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Saving Dinner!

November is Meal Planning Month over at the FlyLady site and it couldn't have come at a better time for us. We have just finished a Once A Month Cooking (OAMC) session and the meals we prepared need to last until after the New Year, so if I don't plan well we may be out of food before Thanksgiving!

My meal planning strategy is facilitated by knowing what is in my freezer. I took the list of meals we prepared at OAMC and I printed a blank calendar from Outlook. I also opened our family calendar to see which nights we would need dinner as well as which nights we might not. I noted any evenings where one or more of us would not be home as that changes my cooking plans, and I recorded anything important on the no-longer-blank calendar. I then tried to complete the meal calendar by assigning dishes to the remaining days. A typical week looks something like this:

  • Monday: Sweet Soy Chicken with Rice
  • Tuesday: Mexican Torta
  • Wednesday: Ekklesia (This is our church's weekly dinner--yay! No cooking!)
  • Thursday: Chicken and Rice Wraps (My husband would night be eating with us that evening due to a meeting, so we would have something easy to prepare in small quantities. These are great just defrosted in the microwave like a burrito!)
  • Friday: Pizza or Spaghetti (We eat this every Friday night and it is not a freezer meal)
  • Saturday: Panko Parmesan Oven-Fried Chicken Salad
  • Sunday: OYO (On Your Own) Night! We eat whatever we want, but it's every man for himself. Usually, this is my cereal for dinner night!)

I write any side dishes or ingredients that I need on the calendar as well as any thawing instructions, then I stick the finished chart on the freezer so that I can see it any time.

If you're new to meal planning and are unsure where to begin, may I also recommend You'll find a link to it on the left side of the page. Leanne Ely publishes a free daily e-newsletter that provides recipes and helpful tips for feeding the family, and if you're interested she also has an enormous selection of freezer recipes for purchase that take minutes to prepare. If you need LOTS of help with meal planning you can purchase a weekly Menu Mailer where she gives you recipes and shopping lists for the entire week. Personally, I have purchased several of her freezer recipe sets including Chicken for the Freezer and Heart Healthy for the Freezer. The Moroccan Chicken with Honey Couscous is a favorite in our OAMC group. (Sorry for the advertisement, but I really do love Ms. Ely's products!)

So, that's what works for us! We eat well and we don't spend as much money at restaurants anymore...what works for you? Check out Crystal's site for more helpful hints!


Bryssy said...

Rachel, I do just about the same thing. That way if I don't get our OAMC meal out, RM can just look at the calendar and grab the right thing. Also, it helps me plan what other sides I will be making.

We had the Sweet Soy Chicken last night. I threw in some frozen brocolli on the top in the last 20 minutes and made some quick cook rice and it was a SUPER good meal.

The Mexican Torta didn't thrill me, but wasn't bad either. We had this with salad.

The Chicken and Rice wraps were AWESOME. I recommend some salsa and sour cream with them. You can even pick them up with your hands (as I did the next day when I took one for my lunch). I LOVED them.

We do the same on Friday...normally it's homemade pizza. THE Princess loves to help with this.

And, just a reminder....Saturday night is our Supper Club night. No need to use a OAMC meal! Come over, we are having Dinner in a Pumpkin (and chicken nuggets for the kids)!

Fantastic post! I can also recommend which, for 2.50 a week they send you a recipe for every night of the week and shopping list based on the sales at the store you shop at (Publix, WalMart, etc).

Tara said...

You amaze me at how organized you are! I don't know how you do it! But, the chicken and rice wraps sound really good. I might have to try them. I've been cooking more lately. I even bought a crock pot and made a roast this week. It turned out pretty good. I'll have to check out some of the sites that you posted to get some ideas.

Blessed said...

My mom always did a menu every week - for my hubby and I we've been pretty relaxed about eating - I like to cook and keep a well stocked pantry so I can usually throw something together at the last minute if I need to. Now that our little one is eating regular food though I find that I'm getting into meal planning mode myself...

Thanks for the links I'll have to check them out!

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