The past month or so, I’ve gotten away from meal planning. In an effort to conserve money and stick to my budget, I want to cook at home more. In the past, I’ve tried making meals on the fly, planning by the week, and even by the month. Planning by the month backfired, because I repeated the same meals every week or two. We got sick of the same thing over and over and started eating out.
When looking up books in my Deseret Book Catalog, I came across Simply Living Smart: Everyday Solutions for a More Organized You by Anita Kerr. Wanting to find out more information about it, I went to www.cedarfort.com. Click here for the exact link for Simply Living Smart. I was able to peek inside the book. I was impressed by the things I learned!
Simply Living Smart mentioned that most people have 10 meals that they cook over and over again. That sounded so much like me that I kept reading! The book said to make a list of 10-20 meals that we really enjoy. This includes the side dishes that you serve with them. You also list the ingredients that you would need to make the dishes.
I didn’t plan to do this until I read about how the author puts each meal on a 1 x 1 sticky note (color coded by type of food). She puts the sticky notes on her calendar, trying not to repeat the same color two days in a row. After preparing a meal, if the family enjoyed it, she moves the sticky note ahead two months on the calendar. If they hated the meal, she throws away the sticky note.
This sounded fantastic to me. I’ve tried writing main dishes in pencil on a calendar. At the end of a day at work, I often change my mind about dinner and cook a different day’s meal. I’ve also tried just making a list of meals to cook during the week, without any set day.
Following the book’s guidelines, I made a list of favorite meals. At first, I had a hard time getting to 10 meals. After that, they came to me a lot easier. Here’s a picture.
In the picture above, I put a cloud around the main dish, wrote the side dishes underneath, and then drew a line for ingredients that I need to have on hand. I didn’t include items that I almost always have in my pantry or fridge. To help me make meals, I used Menus on a Dime by Jill Cooper. It goes along with recipes in Dining on a Dime, a cookbook also by Jill Cooper.
Next, I wrote each meal on a sticky note. I color-coded as follows:
- pink – beef
- orange – chicken
- green – pork
- blue – seafood
For meals that I’ve already cooked this week (meatloaf, shrimp, tilapia), I put those sticky notes on March. I put the other sticky notes on January and February. I don’t expect to cook a different meal every day, because we often take 2 or more days to eat something, especially if it’s a beef roast, even if we take leftovers to work. Here’s a picture of my calendar.
I purchased this calendar to record my exercise for the year (which I did with last year’s calendar). I like putting the sticky notes on here (along with my exercise minutes).
I also showed my husband the calendar and asked if he had any menu suggestions. He said pizza is a must. He also says spaghetti with turkey sausage is always great. I’ve got a spaghetti sticky note (orange, bottom right) already up there, but I’ll need to add a pizza one!
I look forward to creating more meal ideas. The sticky notes on the calendar will definitely help me to make my weekly menus and grocery lists. By moving tasty meal sticky notes two months on after making meals, I won’t have to keep re-creating meals. Things should be much more organized and simple for me!
Please encourage me with my menu planning over the next several days, weeks, and months. My goal is to eat at home more!
Dinner Menu as of January 1:
- Fried ham steak
- Sweet & red potatoes
- Apple Slices
- Chicken Pot Pie with biscuits on top
- Steamed cauliflower & broccoli
- I also have leftover spicy shrimp, turkey-beef meatloaf, creamy mashed potatoes, sauteed onions & mushrooms, and homemade egg bread
For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.