Sometimes I make things harder for my future self, other times I put in the hard yards ahead of time and make my life easier. I’ve really appreciated having put together my 28 day meal plan. We’re on our last week of our first month and so far I’m calling it a success – so much so that I’ve bothered typing it up into a doc and laminating it.
It’s more a framework than a plan. It’s really easy and only deals with our dinners – but this is THE meal in our home and the hardest to think about after a busy day. Now I just look at my chart and hear the flylady mantra ‘what’s for dinner? yum!’
To make it, I drew up a table with 28 days and worked out which meal staple we’d have each night (which meat or non-meat) to make sure our week had a fairly varied menu (a complaint from my husband in the past – three pasta meals in a row!). Then I worked out what actual meal we’d have each night without repeating myself too much. Within the framework I’m free to choose which sides or recipes to use – eg I don’t specify what kind of stir fry. Now that I don’t have to actually choose which meal to have I find I’ve got more mental energy to get creative with recipes and how I cook it, I’m actually prepping meals in advance and even *gasp* looking forward to cooking dinner!
We do sometimes move meals around in the week depending on what’s happening – eg an expected guest or someone being home late – but that’s easy when you know what meals you have planned. My menu suits my family of rather picky eaters – I chose meals that would generally appeal to most members most often (or at least have something in it everyone would eat).
To help myself out even more, I drew up a shopping list for the month with a bulk buy at the start of each month for meat and then four weekly shopping lists. I order most of my groceries online so I saved those lists on the online shopping site to make things even easier. Now I know each week that I have everything I need to make dinner every night.
Throw in one or two take away meals and you have a month’s worth of dinners done and dusted!
I will probably mix up the menu every three months I think, but with 28 different meals a month hopefully the family won’t become too bored too quickly!