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Friday, March 6, 2009

Finding Freedom Friday ~ Meal Planning

I was reluctant to post about this topic today, because sometimes I'm afraid those of you reading this want to say, "Enough already !! ... Just show us pictures of the kids!"  But sometimes we just haven't been doing anything and there's not much to say.  And, I am passionate about this topic, so I do like to share any helpful tips I've found along the way in case someone really cares!

I will say this, though.  Once Brynne woke up yesterday morning, her fever went away and never came back.  So, she is much better!  In fact, she was completely "back to normal" yesterday.

This is the way she does things, typically. She'll start running a fever all of a sudden, usually at night. She'll run a fever all night, into the morning, wake up and be completely fine. It's like her body says, "uh oh, something's coming on .. I better fight it off!" I don't think she has ever had to go to the doctor for any illness, since she was a tiny baby. Healthy as a horse, that one is!

Now on to the topic at hand .. Menu Planning.  

Phoebe at Cents to Get Debt Free is doing a series called Finding Freedom Friday.  She has posed several questions about how to get a grip on our finances, and this week's topic is Menu Planning.  Here are my responses to her questions:

1.  How many weeks do you plan at a time?  I started planning our dinner menus 8 years ago.  At that time I felt that staying out of the store as much as possible was most important. So, I planned our menu two weeks at a time.  But recently I realized that I was over-buying with that system. I'd think, "Oh, I'd better get another two boxes of cereal in case we run out at the end of next week."  It was hard to gauge how much we needed that far out.  So, now I plan our meals from Monday to Monday and do my grocery shopping on Tuesdays.  I think this has been extremely helpful in purchasing only what is needed for that week.

2.  How do you keep track of it all?  In years past I have had a separate menu calendar.  But this year my extra cool husband helped me copy an idea off a popular Mom Calendar system (that is way expensive and just didn't have exactly what I needed if I was willing to pay that much for it.)  He designed a calendar that allows me to do everything I need to do .. keep track of our schedules, the kids' needs and our menu.  There is a spot on my calendar where I can write our dinner menu.  Usually on Sundays I sit down and plan our meals for the next week, if I haven't already filled in the slots from 'brilliant' ideas I've had during the week.  I make a list of ingredients I still need, after scouring through the fridge and pantry.  Then I add anything extra we need that doesn't have to do with the meals.  I put the items in order based on my grocery store layout, and highlight everything that I know I can get at Aldi.  I star every item that I am ad-matching or that I have a coupon for.  That helps me at checkout.

3.  How do you decide what to eat?  I have some picky kids, so I try to be mindful and fair to everybody.  We do not eat a lot of meat, typically just chicken or ground beef, and only about 3 nights a week or so.  I have recently come up with this "system" which has been great.  The family is loving it!!
  • Monday ~ Italian
  • Tuesday ~ Mexican
  • Wednesday ~ FFY (Fend for Yourself)
  • Thursday ~ Some kind of meat dish, casserole or something
  • Friday ~ Sandwiches (but planned, like BLT, tuna, egg, etc.)
  • Saturday ~ Breakfast
  • Sunday ~ Easy dinner (i.e. stirfry, quesadillas, etc.)
My little ones will eat just about anything with rice or pasta, so sometimes I make a side-dish of one of those to add their meat and veggies to.  I try to have something in the meal that I know each person likes, and I try to incorporate everybody's favorites whenever possible.  I do try to plan meals around ad sales.  But, honestly, they haven't been worth anything over the last year or so.  I make extremely cheap and easy meals as it is, so other than maybe planning something around a super-big meat sale or something, I fix pretty much the same meals.

4.  How has it helped you?  Well, there are obvious ways, like being organized and actually getting dinner done at a decent hour.  It also helps me to not fix a complicated meal on a night when we have lots going on.  Most of all, though, it has helped me not to waste food, especially produce.  If I buy a bunch of celery for a menu, I make sure I have planned menus in the next two weeks or so to use all of it, so I don't waste it.  Big Help!!

Well, that's how I do it and why.  It's not rocket science, but it certainly has helped me in more ways than I can count.


  1. Love the reminder of using up things that you have bought so that they don't go to waste. Definitely a big help. It aggravates me to no end to waste food.

    Thank you for linking up!

  2. I enjoyed stopping by your blog. You have a lovely family.
    See you next Friday at Cents for Debt-Free.

  3. I love that your husband made you a calendar. So cool. Your theme nights sound like fun! Glad your daughter is feeling better.

  4. I loved the calendar. What a great idea. Love your blog, and love that you're from OK. I am not but the family tree is. We plan to visit again with my family in a few years.
    Great ideas and I look forward to stopping by again...

  5. yes as always you inspire me to be better at so many things so I just thankyou for this post and for being YOU. Brian has said he appreciates me being more organized lately and really trying to watch what I am spending! Thanks again!


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