Heather Marshall on June 29th, 2009

In an effort to stay organized and productive throughout my days, I’ve decided to adopt another good plan in addition to my daily timesheets:

Menu Planning!!!

I’m the type that usually starts thinking about dinner around 4 or 5 p.m., shortly before my husband is due home. Not good when I realize that there is NOTHING in the house to eat!  The other day I lucked out because I still had some frozen turkey burgers in the freezer… and since it’s summer, the little market down the corner from me had some corn on the cob & watermelon in stock.  Disaster averted.

However, I’m literally down to NOTHING LEFT in my cupboards & fridge that could make a meal worth eating… so I have to grocery shop. Not one of my favorite things to do.

However, I’ve been hearing it for months now (and I’ve half-heartedly tried it on occasion) that menu-planning is the way to go.

Why? Because then grocery shopping has a purpose (all the ingredients can be bought ahead of time) and you’re never left scrounging for some last-minute ideas!

There’s actually TONS of other women out there who swear by menu planning… in fact, there’s even a day dedicated to it, started by Laura over at OrgJunkie.com:

Menu Planning Monday

Menu Plan Monday

In my effort to join their ranks, I pulled out my recipe box (which was within easy reach, thanks to last week’s organizational skills!) and found some great meals to make for this week!

This is what I’m planning on making:

Monday - Mediterranean Chicken & Pasta

Tuesday - Grilled Apricot Ginger Chicken Breasts w/ Corn on the Cob & Baked Potatoes

Wednesday - Chicken & Spinach Dip Pizza

Thursday - Cabo Lime Chicken w/ Rice & Steamed Broccoli

Friday - Tacos

Saturday - See below*

Sunday - Church BBQ! (Bringing Strawberry Jello Pretzel Mold for that!)

*Since Saturday is the 4th, we will probably be doing something with family before the Fireworks that night… so it will most likely be a pizza or some other kind of take-out night.

I’m pretty excited about this week’s menu… even though it’s a lot of chicken! I don’t eat pork or beef, so it slightly limits our options… but all of these recipes are so different from each other, it will hardly seem like we’re eating chicken every night. :)

Another reason why I’m excited: With the exception of Friday’s tacos & Sunday’s dessert…. all of these are NEW recipes.  I know, I’m crazy to put them all in the same week…. but I LOVE new recipes! (By the way, if you happen to have any good recipes, feel free to share them via a comment! Some of the BEST recipes I have now are from friends!) :)

I’ll let you know how they go… & I may even email out my favorite of them all (be sure to sign up with your email address to receive updates!)

Well, it’s off to ShopRite now… hoping I’ll get some great deals in the process!

Keep on Striving,

Heather

PS - Have you had any success with menu planning?  Found any flaws or reasons why it DOESN’T work for you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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6 Responses to “My First “Real” Menu Planning Monday!”

  1. welcome to MPM! I’ve found meal planning to be ever-so-helpful in making sure we get to eat good foods and lowering my stress level! I hope you also enjoy the planning :)

  2. Welcome to MPM Heather- looks like a fantastic week- hope the new recipes turn out and that you stick to planning. It is the best thing I’ve ever done. Keeps evenings sane! :)

  3. I think this idea is great. After a while it gets pretty easy and you can stock in things that you can make any variety of meals easily and quickly. These days I’ve been going to see Miss Rita in the hospital and staying until right before I have to come home and cook for Dad. But each morning, or the evening before, I defrost what I need for the meal and plan a few sides. It works really well and keeps me from stressing the last minute. Hope you enjoy this week. It seems like Jason already is!! I believe husbands like to come home to good smells and home cooked meals. Daddy always says this is the best smelling house on the block. That makes it all worth while.

    Love, Mom

    P.S. Let me know if the chicken/spinach pizza comes good. I’d like the recipe if it does.
    Do you remember when I would make a new recipe? We’d keep the phone handy so we could call for a pizza if the meal turned out to be a disaster. Which it sometimes did.

  4. Snow White & Michelle… thanks for the welcome!

    Mom… So far I’ve lucked out & picked some pretty good new recipes… no back-ups needed! :) At the worst, we’ve thought, “Eh, that was… ok.” But nothing like I remember growing up! LOL Oh, & I hadn’t even thought about the benefits of being able to freeze & defrost things with menu planning! That’s why I don’t freeze anything - I NEVER think ahead to defrost it in time for a meal!!! This is exciting now, I can actually freeze meats ahead of time & defrost them when I know I’m going to be using them…. this is so liberating! LOL

    Oh yeah, and Jason came home from work last night while I was cooking, he opened the door and the first words out of his mouth were, “WOW, that smell is coming from THIS house? Niiiice.” (And they were said with awe, not disgust! lol) Yet another benefit of menu planning!!

  5. I’ve been planning my meals like this for a long time now. I do my weekly shop on Saturdays so on Friday nights or Saturday mornings I plan my meals. On my computer I’ve made a schedule and menu sheet so I can print it out, write Justin’s work schedule in that section and figure out my menu from there. Then the menu gets stuck on the fridge where I can keep track of things.

    Because Justin works retail he has some weird shifts so my meal planning revolves around them! If he works a late we eat dinner at lunch time and he prepares it. I always make a little too much food but that’s why we have a designated Left-overs day!! I LOVE left-overs day! Home-cooked food without having to do anything! Saturday or Sunday is usually when leftovers day is because those are the days I have least energy to cook and more temptation for take-out!

    The major reason I started menu planning was to organize myself as I was finding I was doing the same thing as you, getting to 5pm and realising I wasn’t sure what was for dinner. It has actually turned out to have other bonuses. I know when to take meat out of the freezer so I don’t have to defrost it on the counter-top (which I think isn’t good!) or in the microwave (which never seems to work right for me!).

    The biggest bonus feature is that I’m saving a LOT of money! If we have a Left-overs night and eat out one night I plan for 5 meals and with my usual bread, milk, cereal etc. I’m spending well within our food budget every week. This makes me feel AWESOME about myself and my husband thinks it’s pretty cool too!!

    My family laughed at me when they saw my meal menu on my fridge (because they know how OCD I can be!) but I’m totally confident that it works. I also find I’m trying a lot more new recipes too because I’m organized about it.

    Keep up the good work and enjoy your new recipes this week!

  6. Hi! Welcome to MPM…it is a great way to liven up dinners and take control of your mealtime and grocery budget. We are eating much more and better than this time last year and spending 1/4th the amount! No joke! No stress, no coupons necessary either. Anyhoo.. I hope you find it helpful.

    My tips?
    Try to use recipes in a week that are re-creations of an earlier dish for time saving…last week we had a roast and the frozen leftovers will be grilled balsamic pepper steaks this week and beef gyros the next…

    Flexibility is key! Trying to cook too much in one week might burn you out the next.

    Whoa, this might be my longest comment ever…. Have fun and let us know if it works! Your menu looks great!!!

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