If I'm able to write up the dinner menu for the week, write a shopping list for just those meals, and then stick to that list- it's an easy week. For the most part I'm usually able to do this 3 out of the 4 weeks each month. Without fail though, I miss a week and we always eat out, go to the grocery store multiple times, and stress out over dinner time.
I really can't say enough good things about making a meal plan! Especially when you're trying to have better eating habits. It's important to us to have family dinner together every night, so we've made it a priority in our lives. It's also important for us to eat healthy, so we don't eat pre-made meals out of boxes or bags. Of course sometimes Bart will have Mac & Cheese after work, or we'll enjoy chips and salsa for a snack, but for dinner- we have chosen not to eat that way. It's been almost 3 years since my diet had to drastically change, and I would say we have found a very realistic way for us as a family to eat.
Okay- so back to my love of meal plans. I did something awesome thing morning. Mckenzie woke up at 6 a.m. (typical) and as she played, I wrote down a long list of meals we eat regularly. And I did them by category. So this is what it looked like:
bean and cheese burritos
salmon and rice
chicken salad wraps
tuna salad wraps
grilled chicken sandwiches
rice chicken bowls
chicken and green bean dish
baked potato bar
roast and veggies
It was easier for me to think of things when I thought of the category (tacos, soups, pasta, etc). After making this master list, I divided them out to each week. So Week 1 gets chicken tacos, Week 2 gets beef tacos, Week 3 gets enchiladas, etc. That way, we're getting a good balance of dishes each week. I was so happy with how it turned out! Here is what our 4 week menu looks like
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Chicken Tacos beef tacos enchiladas fish tacos
Sausage soup veggie soup chili spaghetti
Grilled salmon crispy fish tuna patties chef salad
Chicken salad wrap chicken sandwich pizza casserole tuna salad wraps
Fried rice rice bowls Hawaiian haystacks chicken & green beans
Potato bar bean burritos roast and veggies salmon and rice
I don't include breakfast or lunch and leave one day for leftovers. We eat leftovers for lunch and something egg related most mornings for breakfast. I also don't worry about having several courses for each dinner. Most nights we don't have a side with our enchiladas or tacos. Sometimes we do. I don't let the thought of making sure I have a drink, side and dessert with every dinner stop me from making dinner in the first place. I try to have veggies with every meal, so if it's not included in the main dish we do our best to have a veggie side. Our go-to meal is usually something Mexican because Bart can enjoy his flour tortillas while I use corn. Plus you can shove as much veggies and/or protein you want in them. Pasta is kind of a pain to cook because Bart gets the good stuff and I have to cook my GF noodles in a different pot.
We use brown rice, not white. I eat corn tortillas and Bart and Macs use flour. We cook with olive oil, not butter, and leave out the cream-of-whatever in the recipes. I would say the most indulgent menu item above would be the pizza casserole- but it's just SO good. We also don't do dessert. Unless I'm on a baking kick- we don't keep goodies in the house. Mostly because I just get angry when Bart gets to eat them without me!
It's not perfect, but hopefully it gives you an idea of what a month worth of meals looks like. Not too bad right? After 3 years of fresh eating I have also become quite a good cook...so they all actually taste good too! Mckenzie will eat everything on this list, including the fish and soups. She's been fed real, fresh food since she was 6 months old and has never shown any kind of picky tendencies.
I don't know why I was so excited to share with you what our meals look like- but there you go! If you want any recipes... let me know :) Happy eating!