Author Topic: One meal plan to rule them all  (Read 2853 times)

Mrs. D.

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One meal plan to rule them all
« on: June 17, 2019, 01:59:52 PM »
Over the last year or so, I've been constantly tweaking my meal plan and prep routine to make sure I have a homemade meal every night for my family of 4. I've finally come up with a system that works for me so I thought I'd share my 8-week meal plan. Recipes are hyper-linked when applicable. For many of them I don't follow a recipe, but you can easily find some online. This has taken a long time to put together, but now I spend zero time each week figuring out what to cook. The 8 week rotation is long enough that we don't get tired of the recipes and includes enough variety that everyone has something they enjoy eating throughout the week. As much as possible, I cook a double batch and put half in the freezer (especially for taco meat, soups and stews, etc). When that entree comes up again in the rotation, I have one less meal to cook that week.

My routine is: go to Aldi Monday morning and buy as much of my list as I can. While kids are napping Monday afternoon, I cook my rice and beans dish and prep or cook as many of the entrees as I can. I can usually knock out 3 or 4 entrees on Monday so the rest of the week I just have to cook up a few sides. Later in the week I usually have to go to another grocery store to pick up the specialty items not found at Aldi.

Our grocery bill is usually <$650/month, BUT that includes all toiletries, diapers, wipes, household products, etc. I haven't broken down what we spend just on food but I'd guess it's around $400-$475. I know many people build their menus based on the weekly grocery deals. I buy whatever produce is on sale and stock up on sale meat and store it in the freezer so I feel like I still benefit from the weekly deals. It's easy for me to buy 3 packages of chicken thighs on sale because I know exactly when I'll be using them next.

A couple of notes:
We don't eat pork or shellfish for religious reasons so you could add a ton more variety if you eat those.
We are big meat eaters so this isn't super relevant for vegetarians.
I eat gluten free so many meals use corn, rice, or potatoes as the starch.
We live in Texas so there's some tex-mex and southern influence in our cooking.
Each week more has some combination of: a one-pot rice and beans dish, a chicken entree, a beef entree, a fish entree (not every week because it's pricey), a vegetarian entree and a salad.
I include a list of substitutes in case I just really don't feel like cooking something one week.
Side dishes are included below. I'm always adding to my repertoire of sides.

I hope this is helpful for other people or that you get some ideas of recipes you'd like to try. I'm sure I'll go back to exploring and experimenting more with cooking when my kids are older, but for now I'm perfectly content to have the meal plan on autopilot and to know what's for dinner for the foreseeable future.

socaso

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Re: One meal plan to rule them all
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2019, 04:11:54 PM »
I do something similar to this. I plan 2 weeks worth of meals for every month and repeat those 2 weeks during the month. Like you, I batch cook certain recipes and freeze the extra for the next time it comes up in rotation. I have thought about expanding this idea to a quarterly plan and basically doing seasonal menus. Like you, I include household items like paper goods and toiletries in my grocery budget and I typically spend $550 a month.

Villanelle

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Re: One meal plan to rule them all
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2019, 04:29:45 PM »
I am looking forward to having the time to sit down and really dig in to this.  It sounds like just what I need in my life!

tthree

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Re: One meal plan to rule them all
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2019, 06:58:47 PM »
Thanks for sharing.  I really need to sit down and figure out a similar plan for our family.

As the kids get older I find they are more influnended by their peers as to what constitutes "good" food (hint: it's not quinoa....lol).   This has turned what was once a fun activity for me into a torturous one.

I feel like I would be fortunate to come up with a two week rotation that everyone would eat.

EngagedToFIRE

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Re: One meal plan to rule them all
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2019, 07:11:31 PM »
A meal plan like this would stress me out!!!  Glad it works for some.  But I just could never spend so much time planning.  If you keep all the staple ingredients in the freezer/pantry, it's so easy to make great meals in 20 minutes without all the planning.  Though some people just do so much better with planning, my ADA would make this torture.

Thanks for sharing.  I really need to sit down and figure out a similar plan for our family.

As the kids get older I find they are more influnended by their peers as to what constitutes "good" food (hint: it's not quinoa....lol).   This has turned what was once a fun activity for me into a torturous one.

I feel like I would be fortunate to come up with a two week rotation that everyone would eat.

You are too nice!  Quinoa is exceptionally healthy and good and exactly what they should be eating.  My kids get what we are making, and nothing is out of the ordinary or offensive, to be fair.  And if they don't like it, they don't eat, no problem.  But yeah, I might throw together a Mediterranean quinoa with broiled fish on top and even my 4 and 6 year olds will eat it, they know better than to complain at the table.

middo

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Re: One meal plan to rule them all
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2019, 07:15:10 PM »
Wow.  I'm lucky to plan two days ahead.  This will be light reading for me for a while. 

Thank you for sharing this.

rosarugosa

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Re: One meal plan to rule them all
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2019, 11:09:57 AM »
Thanks - we really need to step our meal planning game!

SparkyPeanut

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Re: One meal plan to rule them all
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2019, 04:00:59 PM »
Thank you.

Shannondoggy

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Re: One meal plan to rule them all
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2019, 10:30:15 AM »
Thanks for sharing. Would you be so kind as to also share your grocery list. It would save me a lot of time.  Thanks again.