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Meal Planning… Where to Begin?

On Thursday I mentioned my plans to stock the pantry in preparation of the arrival of my little-one-to-be and my impending job loss. A few readers provided great ideas on preparing and freezing meals in advance as well as creating weekly menu ideas. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of both creating a menu and preparing make-ahead meals.

I was wondering if anyone can direct me to blogs or websites that discuss menu planning in more detail. While I don’t want to create crazy and elaborate entrees, it would be nice to have a quasi-plan in place that will limit take out, especially during those first few months.

I found a few sites that recommend meal planning, but when I dig into them I find a lot of their menus involve eating breakfast for dinner. While I wouldn’t mind doing this every so often, (I actually love scrambled eggs and french toast for dinner), I’m not sure that I want to make that a weekly staple.

So I’m handing this one off to my readers in the hopes of hearing about your ideas and suggestions. Do you plan a weekly meal menu or do you fly by the seat of your pants each night? If you make a menu where do you find inspiration and how long does it take to prepare and cook an average night’s meal?

I’m looking for solutions that are healthy, but relatively quick. I’m also hoping for suggestions that will involve a bit of variety so I’m not staring at the same set of meals over and over.

If you have any ideas or thoughts on meal planning please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

SarahA

Thursday 4th of August 2011

I'm behind on my reading but I would suggest Simplifried.com. It came out of Unclutterer.com (which you would also love) and has a very simple way doing things.

Also, please share your adventures in meal planning. I have never been able to do it consistently and would love to see how you go about it.

One Frugal Girl

Tuesday 2nd of August 2011

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of the ideas and suggestions! I've bookmarked all of the links you provided and plan to start a solid meal plan over the next few weeks. I'm excited by the idea of knowing what to cook for dinner long before 6 o'clock each evening!

Ruby Leigh

Monday 1st of August 2011

My plan is more like a quasi-plan. My boyfriend and I work together at the beginning of the week to come up with a dinner meal for each day. We literally write this on something as fancy as a post-it note. We try to come up with meals that work with the ingredients on hand, but sometimes a shopping trip is required.

I've tried in the past to do the stocked pantry - and then just wing it with the meals, and it doesn't work for me at least. Just a little extra planning has made all the difference in terms of budget, using food before it expires, and so forth.

Merri Ann

Monday 1st of August 2011

Yesterday I couldn't remember the best site for meal planning ... today I found the exact site www.orgjunkie.com. She has lots of sites link up for "Menu Plan Monday". Tons of great meal ideas and tons of tip from all these other moms about making the meal plans work for their new families.

Debbie

Sunday 31st of July 2011

Sunday afternoons are my meal plan times. I customize our weekly CSA box and then make out my grocery list for the next day and get my coupons together.

After that, I make three columns on a piece of paper: one is for proteins, one for vegetables and fruit, one for grains and starches. Then I make a blank form to fill in dinners for us and a lunch for me (often leftovers). I cross each item off the list as it it's added to the form. This really helps me use up our fresh produce and make sure it won't go bad - I know to flash freeze, dry or can certain things if they won't get used that week.

I sounds really complicated now that I've written it out, but it's evolved over time to what works for me.