I honestly don’t like meal planning. It saves me a ton of money. It is what prevents me from going crazy around dinner so I do it but I don’t like it. It kind of stresses me out, looking through the ads, flipping through my cookbooks, finding the time to actually sit down to think of all the food we will need for the week…Where is the fun?
So since meal planning is just inevitable, I pull up my big girl panties and just do it.
Recently, I have come across others who have themes each night of the week and thought it was such a great idea! I don’t know why but thinking in themes kind of sounds fun and simple. Okay, I can come up with a vegetarian meal for meatless Mondays. Or Taco Tuesdays sound pretty easy!
So here are my “theme” nights that have really been helping me narrow down what to prepare each week and has been keeping me on budget. (I also gave you an idea of what I plan each week for breakfast, lunch and snacks).
- Egg dish- This could be egg sandwiches, omelettes, frittata, veggie hash with fried egg on top, egg scramble etc. As long as the egg is your main protein source.
- Meat and veggie meal- This dish can be any combination of meat and vegetables. I usually do grilled chicken or salmon with a variety of roasted veggies or steamed broccoli.
- $5 meal- Anything that costs $5 or less. This makes up for the meat and veggie meal since it is usually my most expensive dish of the week. We make breakfast for dinner (pancakes with eggs or eggs, toast and fruit), tuna and crackers with carrot sticks, soup and homemade rolls etc. There are plenty of ideas online for $5 dinner nights.
- Favorite dish night- Our all time favorite dish is taco salad. We have it every Sunday with our family after church. Everyone can bring something to contribute so it’s affordable for everyone.
- New dish- This is where I can use my creativity and try something new. Pinterest gets me into trouble! Can anyone relate?
- Pasta night- Nothing screams frugal like pasta. I try to keep pasta down to only once a week for dinners. I usually make spaghetti with my loaded vegetable spaghetti sauce or pesto chicken with pasta and roasted veggies. Have you ever heard of “one pot wonders”? They are so easy! Everything goes in one pot and presto! Dinner!
- Something easy- At least one night a week I find myself trying to hurry to get the kids fed so we can go do whatever we have going on that evening. Or I just don’t have energy to cook. Those nights I reserve easy meals like organic frozen pizzas, quesadillas, or sandwiches. I have been known to hand my kids a green smoothie and a piece of meat a time or two…or ten. I have never claimed to be fancy.
Breakfast, Lunches and Snacks:
- Breakfast my kids get either oatmeal, eggs with fruit, nut butter on toast or a baked good. It’s the same every week. Occasionally on the weekends we make homemade waffles or something more labor intensive.
- Lunches around here are made up of the most random things. We usually do leftovers from dinner mostly. If I don’t have leftovers, I keep beans in the crock-pot and we will usually eat that with avocados, sour cream and corn chips. My hubby gets a Cobb salad everyday (bacon, hard boiled eggs, lettuce, cucumber and dressing). We also grill a bunch of chicken on Saturdays and I will keep cut up chicken and raw veggies in the fridge.
- Snacks are simple. The kids get fruit, hard-boiled eggs, a whole carrot or a green smoothie. Whichever one is available at the time is what they get. I don’t give options.
I hope this helps with some of the stress meal planning can bring about. Do any of you have theme nights? Favorite dishes you eat every week?