Mom What’s For Dinner?

How many times have you heard those words, mom what’s for dinner? Too many to count if you are like me. I was talking to my Mom just the other day about meal planning. She was making out a menu for the coming week. I made a mental note that this would be a good topic to write about. Thanks for the inspiration Mom!

Planning meals does take a little bit of time once a week. I don’t do this every single week, sometimes I get out of my routine and I just make a mental note and think it up as I go through the store. That never works as well as writing it down and planning. If you saw my pantry, freezer and refrigerator you would think I was preparing for a famine. In all fairness, I do shop at the warehouse stores and since things are sold in bulk, it fills the pantry quickly! I will share what my pantry looks like…

My mom keeps a very full pantry and her mom did the same thing. I learned from the best! I use to think that I keep a lot of food on hand because I had lived in the midwest and in the winter you always want to have food in stock in case of a storm. Well that theory really does not hold any more since I have lived in California for 20 years now and the weather is never so bad that I can’t go to the grocery store. The good thing about it is, I can pull a together a balanced nutritional meal on short notice with the food I have in stock. It might contain frozen vegetables instead of fresh but it keeps us from eating fast food.

Getting Started

1. For meal planning I scan the freezer, pantry and refrigerator and see what I have on hand that needs to be used up. I look at the calendar and see what activities the week holds and who will be here for which meals. Hubby Tom travels and our children live at home and commute to college but they eat most of their evening meals at home. I don’t want to cook someones favorite meal the night they are not going to be home, so I try to plan accordingly. Classes are over for the summer so I will have everyone here for dinner most nights. Meal planning is going to be necessary.

2. I will plan five dinner entrees and plan on leftovers for two nights. If you have followed my blog you know that I like to double recipes and we enjoy leftovers! If I need a little recipe inspiration I will pull out some cookbooks, cooking magazines or look at my blog posts.

3. Once I have chosen the meals I look at the recipes to see what ingredients I need, what is on hand and what I need to purchase. Make out the grocery list and I am ready to go.

4. I also keep certain items on hand for my Quick & Easy meals. If  time will not allow for making what I have planned I can still get something good on the table quickly. It is good to have a “plan B.” You can use the categories on the side bar to find my quick & easy ideas as well as Crock Pot recipes that are great for busy days. Most of the recipes that I have posted on the blog are pretty easy and don’t take that long to prepare.

Helpful Tips

*I made a list of Quick & Easy entrees and printed it out as well as keeping it in my computer so that everyone in the house has access to it.

*I have another list of our favorite meals and what side dishes I put with the entrees. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel every time I plan meals.

*When her children were young, a friend of mine made out index cards with meal ideas on each one, including the side dishes. She had her kids help her meal plan by letting them choose a card. I love that idea!

Advantages to meal planning

*Spend less money because you go to the store fewer times and you buy just what you need for what you are cooking.

*Less food waste since you are purchasing the ingredients you need for the recipes you have chosen.

*You eat healthier meals and it keeps you from resorting to fast food at the last minute.

*It is easier to plan your breakfast and lunch when you know what you are having for evening meal. You can ensure that your food intake is nutritionally balanced for the day. If dinner is a higher calorie meal you can cut back accordingly and allow for it. That is what thin people do!

*Variety is so important so you don’t get bored with your meals and when you know you have something you look forward to eating, it is easier to stay with your healthy eating plan.

*Planning reduces meal time stress. Who doesn’t want to reduce the stress in their life?

My Meal Plan For the Next Few Days

*Chicken Enchiladas, rice, refried beans

*Pan Fried Tilapia with White Wine & Capers, corn bread, oven roasted asparagus

*Chicken Fried Rice, egg drop soup, frozen spring rolls

*Salmon and Strawberry Spinach Salad

*Grilled Pork Chops, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans with lemon & garlic

Do you meal plan and if so what is your method?

Planning for success and less stress.


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  1. Leslie says:

    I loved this post. You always give me so many good ideas. My meal planning is done with the broadest brush, and consequently I end up making too many of those extra grocery store trips you spoke of! I’m going to try and employ some of your ideas and see if I can be a little more deliberate and focused with my shopping.

    Also, seeing your lovely pantry reminds me that I need to get in and straighten mine out and take inventory! That will actually be a fun project for sometime over this holiday weekend.

    1. Tami says:

      I am so glad you found this to be helpful. Thanks for the compliment on my pantry. I have to go through and organize it on a regular basis as it can really get out of control!

  2. Helen says:

    I do meal plan but we don’t get something new every night. I do the bulk of my cooking on the weekend and we reheat and eat all week long. I make about 2 or 3 dishes and that’s enough to get us through the week since it’s just the two of us. Well, maybe in the summer the plans include a bit of quick grilling and easy salads instead of reheating leftovers. In any case, it definitely keeps us eating healthier!

    Pretty much, I devise the weekly meals by a combination of what I have on hand, and what is on sale at the grocery store.

    1. Tami says:

      Helen that is a great idea to cook things up on the weekend. I will keep that in mind for when we have an empty nest!

  3. Tish says:

    Great post. Planning does make such a difference. I inherited my mom’s notebooks. She had about 6 of those black & white speckled notebooks where she kept recipes she had cut out of the newspaper or magazines. They were organized by type of food. She also had one that had meal combination ideas. If only she’d lived to learn to use the computer! I’m still looking for this gene in myself. I occasionally plan, with a broad brush, if I’m expecting a houseful of guests, but I get most of my inspiration from cookbooks, blogs, and seeing what’s featured at the grocery store.

    1. Tami says:

      Oh Tish how wonderful that you have your mom’s notebooks. My grandmother did the same thing with spiral bound notebooks and I now have those and I cherish them.

      I have several notebooks with hard copies of recipes I got off the web! I think it is compulsive behavior!

  4. WaistingTime says:

    For some reason I have always struggled with planning meals. Probably in part because I really don’t like to cook. And in part because my boys are so picky. But I really have to plan more when I am eating healthier. And I will be honest… I always look for some things that I can pull out and throw in the microwave or oven. Costco has some great pre-made dinners (but way too much sodium, I know). I need a better method. I just really don’t like meal planning. Sigh.

    1. Tami says:

      If I can be of any help let me know. I love to cook and I have some quick and easy recipes that kids like.

  5. Melissa says:

    Great post. I used to be very good at the advance planning, but since tball started I’m sucking it up at that. I really need to get back in the routine.

    1. Tami says:

      It sure is hard when you have to be on the ball field every night! I am thinking sandwiches,fresh fruit and wraps!

  6. Lesia Davis says:

    I don’t do the cooking in my house. I leave that up to my husband. He will often ask what I would like and then he goes to the recipe book that I have made with our families favorites. I have trained him well…LOL

  7. tj says:

    I LOVED this post! I am stocker up kinda gal with NO pantry! I made a kinda sorta pantry out of every nook & cranny we have available here in our tiny lil apartment. The homes we are looking at have full walk in pantry areas that Sean takes me to first thing as we walk in to see the home- hehe 🙂 I get super excited just thinking about it! lol

    ok so…great post- planning is KEY! I love shopping at home first, then seeing what else I need to fill the menu up.

    If we plan we succeed! 🙂

  8. Kim says:

    Just found your blog. I need to hang out here so some of your organization may rub off on me. I’ll be back on Tues when you serve that tilapia.

    Great blog! I’ll be following along.

  9. Bringing Pretty Back says:

    I love your pantry! Can not wait to have one of my own!! Hopefully soon. I agree it is important to be organized and plan ahead!

  10. Bringing Pretty Back says:

    LOVE this post!

  11. Genie@dietof51 says:

    My pantry is ready for the famine, too, but it’s not nearly as organized as yours. I shop in bulk, too.

    I’m like Helen; I do a lot of cooking on the weekends and fill in through the week. I don’t actually sit down and plan meals, but I always have enough stuff on hand to pull them together. We seldom eat out, it’s too expensive. One meal in a restaurant for the three of us (no alcoholic drinks) can easily run $50.00 with tip; that’s almost one-third of my grocery budget for the whole week!

  12. Cammy@TippyToeDiet says:

    Great tips! I’m a family of one, so I don’t have to worry too much about meal planning. I cook for 4 and then freeze individual portions. Since I almost always have salad fixin’s on hand, I can put together a decent meal. I can’t imagine having to factor in other people’s needs and taste buds, especially little peoples. 🙂

  13. Brightside-Susan says:

    You have a enviable pantry! I am a meal planner, too. My methods are very similar to yours. I have my go to meals I always have ingriedients for and otherwise I make a list of the upcoming meals while I make a shopping list.

    My family has been fairly well trained to put items on “the list” that they use up or want from the store – just as my mother taught me!

  14. Kat says:

    I love your pantry. You are a great role model for healthy and delicious planning and cooking!

  15. Weight Watcher Wannabe says:

    WOW…. You got me all itching to clean the pantry and cupboards and the fridge…. HAHAHAHA .. I feel tons better now… Thank you.. 🙂

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