Then one night, I realized that I was causing myself undue stress. I like to cook, I know how to cook, all I need to do is prepare a little. Back then it was just hubby and I buying value meals, but it was still between 15-20 dollars for a meal. Now, there are four of us, so our fast food bills are closer to $30. When I have a plan, we don't do the desperation fast food meals so often. I love the feeling of having dinner ready to cook, or already cooking. When we are driving around town and hubby asks, do you have something planned for dinner, or should we stop and grab something, I can triumphantly say, "Dinner is in the crockpot!" We save so much money by simply cooking at home. Plus, I'm a little less fat. Win, win.
Knowing how much it helps me, I dove into my new meal plan. As I started working through it, however, I noticed that every once in a while, I found myself dreading the coming week. I felt completely uninspired to cook, something I truly enjoy doing. In trying to figure this out, I noticed that there would be one or two meals planned for the week that were very complicated or time consuming, or just not that great. We didn't want to eat them, or prepare them that often. For example, lasagna is not my forte. I don't have a great recipe, so I don't love the product. I just couldn't get motivated to make it. Maybe if I have tons of spare time one day, I'll make five pans of it and put them in the freezer. On the other end of the spectrum, I love schnitzel, but it takes time and work. That meal is more suited to special occasions, not a monthly making.
For my improved meal plan, I took another look at that list of meals. I made smaller lists, one for things that I like to make and we don't mind eating every month or more, and one for things we like, but may not want that often. Then there is another list- actually a pile of papers in my notebook- of things I would like to try or maybe improve on.
Now, I have a four week rotation of meals. Each week has 4-5 meals planned out. The remaining days, I choose from the other lists, or have a leftover extravaganza. This gives me a great start on the weekly plan, but still allows some freedom for variety. So far, I like it, but I am still tweaking things and adding new things. I had fun trying out summer harvest recipes, but now we're transitioning more into soups.
Figuring out how much I need of what has gotten interesting. I had already stored up most of the food for my first meal plan. I figure I'll still use the basics no matter what I make though, so instead of figuring all that out again, I'm keeping track of what I use from what I had stored. Hopefully this time next year, I'll have it a little more scientific-like. For now, I'm doing old fashioned subtraction.
Here's my meal plan, for now. I'll probably keep playing with it, and I need to add a few things, but this will give you an idea.
Stroganoff/ chops & sauce
baked potato bar
Tacos /Navajo taco
Stir-fry /Orange chicken
Baked Potato Soup