Monday, January 2, 2012

What's for dinner?

Lately I've found my self in a 5 o'clock tizzy.  I break into a cold sweat when a member of my family asks the dreaded question..."What's for dinner?".  Arrrg!!  Yet again I have no idea.  I try to access the photographic memory (which I do not have) to remember what ingredients I have and what the contents of the fridge maybe.  The past few month's I think we have surpassed the national average of 1/2 lb of pizza per person per's such an easy, albeit not good for you, option.

I used to be really good about menu planning.  I had a beautiful weekly printout showing our activities and what was on the menu, thus enabling me to be more prepared and less manic.  Sadly this seems to have been slowly forgotten with the expansion of our family.  So with the new year I am working on a buffed up me.  I can't make me new but I can improve on what I've been blessed with.

Seeing as I'm sure I'm not the only one in this situation (you only need to search "weekly menu" or "meal planning" to see I type the truth), I thought I would take a few to share my success, tips, as well as failures and seek a few of yours while I'm at it.

When I initially attempted to begin my meal planning endeavor I wrote my families favorite meals on tabs and would put them on a calendar.  After losing tabs, and the calendar, I began to look for other methods.  There are blogs (see my right column for some of my favorites), templates, once-a-month-cooking, and sites galore.  My first tip is to look at several and figure out what you can do realistically.  Write down what you want to accomplish and see what method accomplishes this the closest.

I was enamored with cooking ahead after having my appendix out my sisters came to my home and prepared and froze a weeks worth of meals for my family.  I loved the convenience of this.  However I soon realized that a whole day of cooking was not to be for me.  Managing my little ones and trying to cook just wasn't working for me.

My next attempt and planning was e-mealz.  I found it through Dave Ramsey.  This site has been the most beneficial to me and my family.  Yes there is a small subscription cost but to me it more than paid for itself.  I could go on and on but I'll let you some investigation and trial and error on your own.

Another method I did for quite some time was a freezer group.  I, along with about a dozen other people, would get together once a month and prepare 8 entrees for a cost much less than if I made them on my own since we were buying in bulk.  This involved work on everyone's part but in the end quite worth it.  We used a book Fix Freeze Feast.  I bought a copy of my own and love it. 

Along with my freezer, another tool I find invaluable is my crockpot or slow cooker as some call it (they are the same thing, promise).  I love the ease of tossing everything in and then it's ready around dinner time.  It gives me such a giddy feeling when I come home from work or picking up the kids to know I don't have a ton to do before my hubby gets home.

Ok so there are a few of my tips and successes.  What are yours?  Do you meal plan?

Until we eat again!


  1. I do meal plan! I have a calendar, Amy Knapp's Big Grid Family Calendar, that has a place on each day for the menu! I love it! So, what I decided to do this month is to pull out a cookbook I purchased, but had yet to really use and cook from it. I picked 5 meals each week from the cookbook, put them on the menu, and I grocery shop each week for the week ahead. So far, it has been great! I chose Pampered Chef's 29 Minutes to Dinner Vol. 2. It's fun, we are not eating the same things again and again, and it makes me feel good to be using cookbooks I already purchased!

  2. You can still do a smaller freezer meal group with a few people you know! I joined up with 2 other people that were already doing it on their own so it is a LOT less work - we meet monthly and each take a month to plan so we get 2 months off (just have to show up) - we save money by providing some of the smaller ingredients from our own pantry (like salt, dry mustard, etc.) - still works out to be about the same price as our last group and just as fun - just a heck of a lot easier on a smaller scale!