So I may have mentioned a time or two now, I LOVE FOOD! Seriously, food is my best friend. Sadly eating ice cream for every meal is just not acceptable. (My son so does not agree with that statement.) In a post I wrote several months ago (I Hate Meal Prepping, here is what I do instead) I mentioned that I like to meal plan so today I want to show you the method to my madness of meal planning. I’m going to share with you my January Meal Plans plus a grocery list for everything you need to make the meals plus show you exactly how I choose what meals go where.
What my meal plan for this month consist of
One of my goals for this year is to really branch out with my cooking. I’m really bad about getting into a rut where we eat the same 8 or 9 meals on a rotation so I’m adding in some new dishes to try this month. We will see how it goes…
I want to say up front that this is a rough outline. I’m a super indecisive person. I’ll typically shop for one whole week ahead of time. Then I may switch up which days I have which meals depending on how I feel and what we have going on at the moment. I’ll try to stay at least somewhat close to the schedule though just because some days I’ll use leftovers from the previous day to make the meal for that day. For example on the 10th I’m going to make Apple Cider Chicken. I’m going to use left over chicken from that day to make chicken salad the next day.
Each week I try to have one crock pot meal scheduled. I know there is going to be at least one day each week of absolute insanity (usually more but I’m being optimistic). I have to have something planned that I can just throw in the crock pot and forget for my sanity.
Also, every week I set aside a day for left overs. My husband hates leftovers with a fiery burning passion so if I don’t specifically designate a day for eating up everything we have left in the fridge then so much food would go to waste.
I scheduled a couple date nights this month. Honestly this is just wishful thinking. I hope my husband and I get two date nights this month but realistically I’m not going to hold my breath. Plus I have two sandwich nights which translates to “fend for yourself or starve” because cooking that many days a week is just not realistic for me.
The Method Behind My Madness
I’m a very tactile person so I need to be able to see and move things around easily. I honestly tried to start doing my meal plan on my calendar on my computer when I first started. I HATED it! It just wasn’t easy enough to plan what days I wanted everything on. So I changed up how I pick out our meals.
I start by spending an ungodly amount of time on Pinterest. I’m a touch addicted. (If you want a free month of Tailwind follow my link here.) I’ll find around 30 recipes that sound good for the month and I’ll write them down on note cards (Or slips of paper if I’m out of note cards). Then I’ll add cards for left over days, “sandwich days,” and date nights and put those out first to start mapping out my plan.
After that I’ll go through my recipe ideas and match up any days where I can re purpose stuff for the second day and put those together. (Not all of my meal ideas come from Pinterest. I usually have around 10 new ones we want to try and will end up actually adding around 5-6 to the plan for the month.) I add these paired days into my calendar layout first. After that I’ll fill in the remaining days with my other cards.
I try to focus on making sure I don’t have all chicken one week etc. It honestly feels like a puzzle putting it together sometimes and my husband makes fun of how OCD I get but I honestly enjoy it.
How I Narrow Down Which Recipes to Try: Eating Seasonally
One thing I look for before I ever start picking recipes for the month is what is in season this month. I try to plan some of my recipes around these veggies. This usually means some savings at the grocery store.
This month I’m going to be using some winter squashes, kale, brussels sprouts, and apples. The full list of veggies and fruits in season for January.
What are some of your family’s go to meals? Tell me in a comment below, I could always use some new ideas!!