Meal Planning

I know we’re all busy, we like to have things quick and on the go. The hardest thing that I’ve discovered is to figure out which meal plan will work best for each person. Let’s face it, each family is not the same and one method isn’t going to work everyone one. Here I plan to lay out an array of tips, methods, and share the one that works best for my family! Get a pen/pencil, paper, and get ready to take some notes.

My Meal Plan for a Family of 5:

We are a family of three adults and two kids, we buy our food in bulk and do a lot of food saving. That has helped us to cut down on our grocery bill considerably. Every Saturday I sit down with our grocery lists (there are two because we shop at both Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club), I go through cookbooks and online recipes I’ve saved up, decide what sounds good for the week and write everything down, including back up meals. I then base the grocery lists off of what we are eating for that week and only put those ingredients on the lists. If it’s a pay week I’ll add a few more items to the Sam’s Club list to help restock our surplus. My Mom and I use the weekends to cook up the bulk meats and prep fresh veggies for the freezer. I like to preseason chicken thighs and pork loins before freezing. This cuts down on having to take time to marinade, I like to add these meats to the crock pot and let them slow cook all day. We also like to buy boneless skinless chicken breasts in bulk, I like to boil these up (as I’ve shared in a previous post), chop up the meat and place two cups of chopped chicken per freezer bag. But what if the family wants fried chicken? That’s where the menu comes in handy, I can set aside the amount I’d need for fried chicken and boil up the rest.

Beef roasts is my family’s favorite, served along with veggies, potatoes, and salad. Here’s a quick crock pot recipe that has three ingredients:

2 beef roasts (2–3 pounds each)

2 envelopes of lipton onion soup mix

1/2 cup water

In a large crock pot add the water and 1 packet of soup mix. Place both beef roasts in the crock pot and sprinkle the remaining packet of soup mix over the roasts. Slow cook on low for 8–10 hours or until fall apart tender.

This creates it’s own au jus sauce which can be thickened to make a gravy or served as is over the meat. You can serve one pot roast with boiled potatoes, a vegetable, salad and rolls if you like. With the remaining roast, let it cool to room temp and play in a freezer safe bag with 1 cup of au jus. Freeze flat and keep it for next month, which all you’ll have to do is take out the frozen cooked roast to let it thaw and reheat on the stove. Serve with rice or egg noodles, asparagus spears topped with feta cheese, and crisp romaine salad.

It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Another quick fix is bbq meats in the crock pot. You heard me 🙂 I’ve done this with country style ribs, chicken, and beef ribs. Rub down your meat ahead of time, line your crock pot with Reynolds Wrap Release Foil, and put the meat in the crock pot for 6-8 hours on low. You can either pick up sides from the store on your way home from work or make them up the night before. Here’s what I’ve done for country style pork ribs.

1-2 pounds country ribs

favorite rub seasoning


favorite bbq sauce

The night before rub down meat or place if your favorite marinade. In the morning line crock pot with foil, place ribs in slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Serve up with your favorite sauce, potato salad, pasta salad, deviled eggs, garden salad or your family’s favorite sides!

Pork loin is another favorite, simple and quick to throw together.

1 (2 pound loin)*

salt and pepper on both sides

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can chicken broth

2 carrots chopped

1 onion chopped

1 large celery stalk chopped

1 garlic clove minced

Combine chicken broth and mushroom soup together in crock pot. Season pork loin on both sides with salt and pepper, place in crock pot. Add chopped vegetables and minced garlic around the pork loin. Cover and cook on low for 8–10 hours. Serve with boiled rice or egg noodles, buttery peas, and salad.

The idea is to cook up enough food to make multiple meals. Some find it helpful to do all their cooking for a month, others like planning some meals based off of one common ingredient such as beef, chicken, or turkey. The two things I go by are: what’s for dinner this week and what will I need to make it? That’s how I create my grocery lists and not miss anything for the week.

I know of many folks who enjoy using eMeals. You can pick the meal plan that suits you(low carb, paleo, slow cooker, etc.), have meal plans delivered to your inbox, and you’ll receive a grocery list that fall in line with weekly sales at selected stores. There is also the OAMC (Once A Month Cooking), where you must plan one having everything ready (recipes, vegetables, seasonings, meats, etc.) in order to put every meal together that you plan to have for a month. It’s actually a great way to stock up your freezer(s), if you have the room of course.

I have found that free printable menu lists are a handy tool to keep on hand in a folder. I like to keep one as a master copy so I can reprint when needed. Here are a few I have found…

Printable Menu Planner #1

Printable Menu Planner #2

Printable Menu Planner #3

Printable Menu Planner #4

Printable Menu Planner #5

Printable Menu Planner #6

Printable Menu Planner #7

Printable Menu Planner #8

Printable Menu Planner #9

Printable Menu Planner #10

These lists are great from the beginner all the way to busy mom and highly organized and detailed shopper. Find what will work best for you, start a binder with your favorite recipes, keep a legal pad handy with pens, pencils, and high lighters. Keep track of what you run out of during the week so you’ll know what to put on your grocery list. Keep your coupons in a handy coupon folder/binder and ready for your next trip to the store.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, there’s a plethora of information out on the web that can get down into the nitty gritty. But if you’re just starting out, keep your menu planning simple until you get the hang of it, don’t try to keep up with any Joneses 🙂

Have a great Wednesday!!

Amanda Gayle

2 thoughts on “Meal Planning

  1. Pingback: Save Money Without Sacrificing You Food Quality | Healthy Lunch Ideas

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