What’s for dinner?

Toward the end of every week, usually on a Friday or Saturday, I sit down with my meal planning/grocery shopping sheet and my iPad or iPhone with the calendar up.  The first thing I do is write out all the activities for each day.  Even if it’s a repeating weekly activity, I write it out.  Most of my kids’ activities are recurring except my son’s who’s hockey schedule varies week by week.  If my husband is going to be out in the evening to compete in his paddle tournaments, I write it down. If I’m working with a client in the afternoon or my bookclub is meeting in the evening, I write it down.  This lets me see how busy my afternoon will be and therefore how much or little time I have to prepare dinner.  Then I fill in the meals I plan to make for each day.  I plan to cook at least one recipe that I know will cover 2 meals, like my recipe for meatballs or chicken stew.  My  favorite thing is, “leftovers!” or “datenight” which means this mama doesn’t have to cook that night!

Then I go and fill in the grocery store items I need to make each meal.  I do this whole meal planning task at the kitchen counter, so that I can get up and open the pantry and see if I have bread crumbs if I’m making chicken cutlets or coconut milk for the coconut shrimp recipe my husband adores.  I meal plan for dinner only, not breakfast and lunch, so I add items like fruit and deli meat each week and cereal and snacks when we are low.  I also like saving money (who doesn’t?), so I flip through our local grocery store weekly flyers. When a favorite item is on sale, like Rao’s marinara sauce or Chobani yogurt, I stock up.  After grocery shopping is done, this sheet hangs on the side of my refrigerator.  I check it to remind myself what I am cooking each night, and if necessary I take meat out of the deep freezer for cooking the next day.  Happy meal planning!

Meal planning