I love food. Like seriously it’s a top priority for me! There is nothing that drives J crazier than when I ask him what he wants for dinner…five hours before dinner…so basically right after lunch. Oops. [I told you it was a priority.]
I’m not kidding. It drives him nuts! But in my defense, I hate the 5 o’clock question “What’s for dinner?” Ugh. It is like nails on a chalkboard for me. As much as I wish I was a super organized person all of the time [heck I’d settle for half of the time] I am not. Oh, and did I mention I’m the most forgetful person ever? So dinner time rolls around and all of the sudden we are eating pancakes because their easy, or making grilled cheese for the second night in a row.
That is until I got my -ish together and I started planning meals out. Now I know everyone raves about it on Pinterest, but I always thought it was going to be this extremely time consuming project every Sunday [the only day I can get J to go to the grocery store with me]. I thought my Sundays would be consumed by it…
But I’m telling you…it does not have to be that way. I have been planning out our dinners for the past couple of months and I feel like I’ve gotten a handle on what works well…for us. I know everyone is different and really there is only J and I [no cute little kiddos] but I feel like the basics can be the same for anyone struggling with that dreaded dinner time. No more “What’s for dinner?” and “What are you hungry for?”. It’s on the fridge, most likely on this cute free printable!
Here are a few rules I have given myself!
- Don’t overdo it with the recipe testing. Shocking I know…but when I first started, I did! I read on a ton of blogs to pick recipes with like ingredients so you can buy in bulk to save money and time. And I am sure there is a lot of truth in that! BUT if I am spending 2 hours going through recipes to try just to make my meal plan work..it’s never going to be worth it. I try and keep my recipe testing to a minimum. No more than 1 new recipe a week.
2. It’s okay to have staples. Tacos are our staple. We have fish tacos, chicken tacos or beef tacos almost once a week. That means every Sunday when I sit down to go through my menu I know that we will need to have stuff for tacos [chances are we still have some ingredients from this weeks round of them] and that is one less day that I have to worry about. Come on, who doesn’t love tacos.
3. Just because it’s boring doesn’t mean it’s a bad meal. I always try to make spaghetti with 100 million veggies and fun noodles, only to realize that my grocery list is sooooo much longer. Oh, and there are only so many half peppers I can have leftover in my fridge before they start to go bad. Instead why not be a little boring?! My spaghetti night looks like this: hamburger, pasta noodles, pasta sauce, 1 add in veggie, and maybe garlic bread if I remember to put it in. That’s it. No it’s not Cheesecake Factory worthy, but it’s Ellie and Joe approved so to heck with it!
4. If you’re able to, leave a day for leftovers. Clean out that fridge and skip a night of cooking?! Yes please!
5. Saturday and Sunday Planning. This gets kind of iffy, but if you’re still reading, stick with me…The weekend is when J and I will go out to eat usually, so it’s not worth the time to plan it week after week. Also, some weeks we don’t stick to the plan every night, so Saturdays and Sundays can be a day where we catch up. I still have the ingredients in my kitchen, who cares if I didn’t make it on Tuesday like I had planned. Which brings me to the most important one…
6. Be flexible. Sometimes we get home late, our other half gets home late, plans change, etc. If I don’t have time to bake/cook/prep something I had planned out, I skip it and go to whatever I can make quick on the list. I also don’t feel bad. That just means the veggie pasta that had 20 minutes of prep time alone is going to be just as good the next night when I’m not cutting veggies in such a hangry rage that I almost lose a finger [don’t pretend like you’ve never been annoyed while cutting/prepping for dinner].
7. And last but not least…always keep an easy back-up. Some days are just a nightmare. I recommend pancakes and grilled cheese.
I hope this helps at least a few of you with your nightly dinners! If you need more ideas or want to see some options of my weekly meal plans, leave a comment!
Oh and in case you missed it. Use the following links to get your own free meal planning printables! And stay tuned for matching grocery lists!