Meal Planning + Music Obsession

First of all, I wanted to share with you my newest musical obsession.

Christina Perri.

She is by no means a brand new artist, you probably have heard her song “Jar of Hearts” and, if you’re a Twilight fan, her song “A Thousand Years.”

Anyway, after buying Twilight, Breaking Dawn Part 2 and listening to the “A Thousand Years Part 2” in the credits I decided to listen to it on YouTube. While doing so I discovered a playlist of her videos so I gave them a listen. I’m HOOKED.

Here’s her video for “Arms” which I absolutely LOVE!

Now, on to meal planning!!!

I’ve heard this concept in the past, but as someone who never cooked anything more complicated than Macaroni and Cheese (from the Blue Box of course!) or a burger on the George Foreman Grill, it didn’t make sense to me. However, now that I am officially a work at home mom (except when I do my sampling job on the weekends of course) I have the time to dedicate to cooking, as I’ve been trying to share on this blog….. though I don’t post nearly enough!

So, this is how I meal plan.

I start with an Excel document on my computer (you could use a notebook, white board, word doc, whatever is most convenient for you!)

I list across the top each day of the week. Then I start choosing recipes to make.

For us, Wednesday is dance night, so I take Allison to dance class around 5 and we don’t get back until a little after 6. The Husband doesn’t get home from work until a little after 6. This is not good when you have two small, hungry kids who need to get to bed around 7 pm or they lose it. Therefor, this has become crcokpot night. (Unless I’m bad and forget to thaw the food for the crock pot, then it usually becomes PB&J night…)

Alright, so back to the list, we’ve got a row with the days of the week.
Below that we have a row with each recipe listed under the days of the week.
Under THAT I copy and paste the ingredients list.
From the ingredients list, I go through each item and make sure I have it. If I don’t, I add it to the grocery shopping list.

My favorite things about meal planning are:

1. The Husband can’t complain about eating chicken every night of the week because I’ve already thought ahead and thought up alternatives. (Side note: I find it interesting that he didn’t complain when we ate pasta almost every night for about 3 weeks straight…. hmm…… )

And

2. Believe it or not, this has cut down on the grocery spending!!! In the past we would spend $80-$100+ each week on groceries. EACH. WEEK! That’s crazy! This was even before Miranda was born! What were we spending all of that hard earned cash on? I can’t even tell you! The worst part was that we would get home from the store and say “…there’s nothing to eat…”  Right now I’m spending about $40-$50 per week. This amount will go down I’m sure as I accumulate the basics for my kitchen. It’s not every week I’m going to need to buy All-Purpose Flour or Rice Vinegar. Those little things add up, but once you’ve got them, you’re set for a while!

So, to select the recipes for the meal planning I usually just turn to Pinterest. (You can follow me here: http://pinterest.com/carolineandrus ) I’ve got a bunch of yummies pinned already and if I think of something that I want to make, or want to cook with, I look it up. If I don’t find what I’m looking for I turn to Swagbucks (that’s my search engine of choice, I earn points towards prizes – such as Amazon gift cards! – simply for searching the Internet! Sign up link on the left side bar! You won’t be disappointed!)

After I’ve made and eaten each recipe, if it’s a new one, I type up whether we liked it or not, or if I want to make any changes for cooking it in the future.

You can also plan ahead to make a double batch each night and freeze for the future. Right now I’m still testing new recipes, so I’m not committed to freezing them yet! Once I do repeat a recipe I will certainly try to freeze it for later!

So there you have it! That’s how I meal plan! Mind you, I’m still getting into the habit of doing it. I’ve planned this week out (“World’s Best Chicken”, Chinese Pork Chow Mein, Stuffed Bell Peppers, Mini Lasagna Cups, Chicken Pot Pie Cupcakes) but failed to do so last week, resulting in every night going “I don’t know what to make…..”, but I planned the week prior with great success (in spite of the fact that I’ve been sick as can be!)

If you’re a reader of my recipe failures/successes, I’m going to be sharing Caramel Apple Pork Chops soon (or as I like to call them, Apple Pie Pork Chops!) as well as some yummy Sweet and Sour Meatballs and delish Orange Chicken!

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