The Art of Meal Planning

The Art of Meal Planning: I think I could write scads of info on the subject as it is something that I have had to develop and use out of necessity.
If you are new to meal planning, there are a lots of websites that offer all sorts of free printables for meal planning. Weekly meal planners, monthly meal planners in all sorts of different layouts. I often use printables from www.organizedhome.com or I make up my own. You can also download templates from the microsoft word website and type in your menus and then print them out.
Some tips for your weekly menu:
On Monday, make up your snacks.
You can slice up your carrot sticks, make your peanut butter crackers and celery sticks with cream cheese. Slice up some cheese. These are easy foods to store not to mention a healthier alternative to say….chips or candy.
Having a easy quick breakfast on Monday allows for easy clean up and for you to be able to prepare some of your snack foods for the week. You could even make up a double batch of tuna or chicken salad for sandwiches and have this for Monday and Tuesday lunches. You do not have to have something different every day and by using this doubling method it saves you time and hassle.
If you make pancakes, make a double or triple batch. You can always make enough for breakfast, feed yourself and the children and then come back to making and storing away the rest for another day. Tortillas are another thing we make in bulk and also freeze well.
I have a simple pancake recipe that I usually use. My 3 older children can even make pancakes now without help! We use a large electric plug in griddle and it makes it so easy to make a ton of pancakes in a short amount of time. I use zip-lock freezer bags and mark the date and contents with a Sharpie pen…then store in the freezer. Thaw and use the toaster oven or regular oven or throw on the griddle to heat up. (You could heat in the microwave but I try to stay away from the microwave as much as possible)
Here are some example menus:
Monday:
breakfast: Cereal, buttered toast, oranges
snack: celery with cream cheese sticks
lunch: grilled tuna sandwiches, boiled eggs, almonds, soup
snack: crackers and cheese
supper: Roast, baked potatoes, steamed veggies and salad
Tuesday:
breakfast: double batch of pancakes, applesauce, bacon
snack: carrot sticks with peanut butter and a boiled egg
lunch: left over roast and salad sandwiches or tuna sandwiches if you made a double batch
snack: frozen fruit and yogurt
supper: spinach and bacon quiche, vegetable soup, French bread
Wednesday:
breakfast: heat up pancakes you made yesterday, sliced oranges, eggs
snack: peanut butter crackers and dried fruit
lunch: left over vegetable soup and grilled cheese
snack: celery and cream cheese sticks
supper: Spaghetti and meat balls, salad and garlic bread.
Lunch Ideas:
baked potatoes
tuna sandwiches
chicken salad sandwiches
chicken soup (this soup is so simple, healthy and inexpensive to make. You can make a ton of it at one time and freeze what you do not use for later usage)
pizza bread
sandwich pockets
black bean salad
grilled cheese and soup
burritos
A word on once a month cooking – If you are interested in once a month cooking (bulk cooking) then you may want to purchase a book like Once-a-Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg. There are others–Frozen Assets is another one. I have these types of books but never use their systems of bulk cooking now because I have adapted my own system. I use some recipes out of these books still. The first time I tried bulk cooking, I did exactly what the book said. It was easy–they already had the meals planned out and the grocery list. 6 hours of cooking later, I had a bulk load of food in the freezer. I remember opening up the freezer and just gazing at my accomplishment!
If you incorporate meal planning and bulk cooking into your lifestyle, you will reap a huge benefit not only with the superior nutrition factor, but also not having to eat out or just grab something because you have no clue what is for dinner.
Recipes to follow in future post……………….

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