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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Meal planning! When I do it, it is so beneficial to my family. When I fail to plan, I can plan to fail in saving my family money as we end up eating out, sometimes multiple times in one week, and then the guilt sets in.

SO...who's with me? What is your goal? My goal is to not eat out more than 50 times this year. My goal is to plan dinners (not a new recipe or dish for every meal as I fully plan to incorporate leftover nights or "find whatever is in the fridge" nights) every single week in 2017. I'll post those meal lists here.

I'd love to hear your tips and tricks on meal planning! For me, I try to get as many meals out of one protein as possible. For example, pork loin in the slow cooker can be served with a starch and a veggie one night, leftover pork can be shredded and served as sandwiches the next night.

Good luck!
 

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My goal for this year is to lose 30+ pounds.

I haven't decided what my daily calorie range
will be yet (poss. 1500). I am also not starting
until Jan.1 so that I can use up what I left here.

By Sunday, I will post my menu for the first week.
I will plan for grocery buying also weekly, probably
on Sat.

I have been working on becoming consistent. That
will be my secondary goal.
 

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I'm in!

I have January already planned and I will come back to post it as my goal book is at home.

I usually cook enough for dinner and lunch for me and DH the next day. However, I have started where I double a meal so we can have a few leftover days. My family doesn't mind leftovers, so why cook so much?

My grocery budget is getting an over haul and getting lowered in 2017, so I really need to stay on track with meal planning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have yet to finish my meal plan for the first week of Jan., but I thought of a secondary goal to my meal planning. I am going to do more planning ahead and make extra when I can (two chicken pot pies instead of just one) so I have a meal in the freezer ready for another night. I already do this when I make pancakes or waffles (usually make a triple batch each when I make them) so why not do it when I make other things? Makes sense, right?!?!
 

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I am loosey goosey about writing down a plan but I do cook in bulk and freeze. So now its just DH and I plus just me when he travels. I will still cook bulk but part things into meals for 1. I hope to eat less this way. And ultimately less waste.Also if Dh and I want diff things we can easily do that w/o wate or extra efforts. I still cook everything in a dutch oven or a whole package. 50x a year seemed excessive but that 1x a week so I will try for that or less.
My SIL makes a batch of cookies like choc. chip and makes balls which she stores in a marg. tub in the freezer. She takes just a few out when she wants a cookie and bakes it in the toaster oven. I make loaves of french toast eps. when eggs are cheap. 1-2x frozen down the toaster and you have breakfast. I do 1 reg and 1 cinnamon. I pre make and sometimes precook meatballs. Its nice to grab 4 and make DH a meatball sub. I like the cheap long bread from Costco. I also precook lots of ground beef. I part it into sandwich bags or gallon bags w/ the meat flat. I chip a bit off and make nachos w/ chip and preshredded sharp. I buy day old pitas for .39 a package at the bread store (if you spent $5.) I freeze them for quick ind. pizzas. 5 min w/ jarred sauce,preshreded cheese and I keep pepperonis but also have mushrooms and pineapple all the time. I freeze bits from jars and also green peppers cut in strips. 400 degrees-450 depending on the toaster oven maybe 10 min. I also make grill cheese w/ 2 tortillas. I cut it into 8 pie wedges and dip in sour creme. So perfect for new years. I like to make DH pea soup. I put canned carrots and diced ham. I cool and store in flat sandwich bags. I just rip the bag away and then thaw lunch. You can get a lot out of 1 bag of peas and 1/2 can of carrots. I 1/4 the carrots. I dont salt it w/ the ham and use pepper because we like lots of pepper.
I want to make a lemon cake mix into cupcakes. I am dropping in lemon curd for the middle. I will freeze 1/2 the cupcakes (I swear,really).
Kroger had 1# packages of their shredded cheese for $2.77 I will get 20 and freeze them. I will get 10 of the sharp and asst. the rest like mozarella for pizza. And muenster for chili,mexican for nachos. I ahve to access the freezer I really want to get 40. We use cheese a lot. esp. in soups.
 

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fw - your meal plans always make me hungry. 2 questions: what is a meat flap?
when you make your pea soup do you use something for liquid (water, milk) or puree the
veg when cooked.

i always start every year with a meal planning goal but i cant seem to stick with it.
i will be following this thread to get some ideas.
 

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I'm with you on menu planning. I used spreadsheet pages to plan. Day of month, day of week, rough menu, what should be prep'd or made ahead. Things can be switched around within the week as needed. Day of week matters because of my exercise class or other commitments. So that is a reminder that I don't have time for a fussy meal on some days.

I only have the freezer over the fridge, so not much space. However It's handy to make 2 of something (roast chickens, bread, pie crusts) and freeze one for later. Soup in quart containers. I don't mind eating something for 3 days of a given week but hubby dislikes that. Sometimes things have to be disguised or re-invented.
 

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Each week I tentatively decide on certain days for certain meats---for example, Monday is pork, Tuesday is chicken, Wednesday is beef, Thursday is leftovers, Friday fish, Saturday chicken, etc. I take into account if we're going to be home the whole evening or if we have to eat early due to church, etc., then I decide what specifically I'll cook using the meat-of-the-day, if I can do a crock pot meal, etc. By the end of the week I may have made changes due to unexpected things or due to something being on sale. It's just a rough plan that gives me a place to start planning.
 

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I'm old fashioned, I use a paper and pencil to plan my monthly menus. I get a calendar page from printfree.com. I write in pencil what meat we have on what day, sort of like ILC, but it is chicken (or turkey) every two (or sometimes 3) days, and then I fill in with fish once or twice per week, pork once or twice per month, pasta, etc according to DH's dietary restrictions. I leave one day a week blank, because inevitably we end up eating out, or we have a lot of leftovers to finish.

I also note events like planned movie nights, outings with friends, and medical appts that can cause plans to change.

After I assign meat days I go back over it and fill in any pantry items I want to use up like canned or frozen veg or boxed rice or noodles. At this point I can see what gaps I have and what fresh food I need to buy this month/week.

What's really nice is when I am digging around in the freezer and I find something that needs to be used up I can go to my menu plan and look at it and then write down that item for next week. Then when that day comes I'm not floundering for a side item, and stuff doesn't stay lost in the deep freeze forever.
 

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For anyone who is interested, here is my second blog posting: Meal Planning 101
Herby Goodness: Menu Planning 101

Here's my January 2017 Meal Plan

1 Sun Grilled salmon, roasted zucchini/squash
2 Mon Beef with Mushrooms and Asparagus, caesar salad
3 Tue Chicken a la king over biscuits
4 Wed Beef stew in crockpot, bread in bread machine
5 Thu Stuffed shells, salad
6 Fri Hamburgers/Brats on grill, chips, pickle
7 Sat Smoker: Pulled pork, roasted vegetables
8 Sun Roast chicken, salad, cranberry sauce or apricot chutney, roasted vegetables
9 Mon Hamburger and Barley Soup in crockpot
10 Tue Chicken paella
11 Wed Caesar salad with grilled chicken breasts
12 Thu Salmon noodle bake with broccoli
13 Fri Black beans and rice and andouille sausage
14 Sat Bacon wrapped pork tenderloins, macaroni and cheese, broccoli
15 Sun Meatloaf, steamed carrots, corn
16 Mon Ham and noodle bake casserole
17 Tue Pork carnitas in crockpot
18 Wed Marinated chicken thighs (bourbon chicken?), steamed carrots, corn
19 Thu BBQ Ribs in crockpot, macaroni and cheese, salad
20 Fri Shrimp scampi
21 Sat Fried catfish
22 Sun Lasagna
23 Mon Pot roast in crockpot with vegetables, mashed potatoes
24 Tue Taco Salad
25 Wed Spaghetti, salad, garlic bread
26 Thu Chicken paprika, asparagus, noodles
27 Fri Green and white lasagna bundles, salad
28 Sat Garlic steaks, lobster tails, baked potatoes, caesar salad, garlic bread
29 Sun Pork Roast, sweet potatoes, green beans
30 Mon Asian Lettuce Cups with Spicy Ground Turkey Filling
31 Tue Chili in crockpot, cornbread
 

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I have a list of 10 entrees I can make w/ stuff on hand. I'm lucky because hubby will be gone for a week toward the end of the month so don't need to cook that week. I'll also change depending on what I can get on mark-down sale in the meat department - I try to check once a week.
 

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Early bird I usually dont have a ham bone and I save the chicken broth for other things so just water. Now meat flap?? you mean flat? I squish raw hamb or cooked ground beef in sandwich bags and flatten them to stack and freeze or I precook ground beef and store in a gallon bag and break off frozen chunks and defrost. IDK.

I am going to start making multiple banana loaves and such to save oven time and energy and freeze one.

When I started meal planning I wrote down 40 things we would eat that were economical. A lot of the things had like ingredients. I use pre made Pillsbury crust from Sams when its the holiday they are bulk cheap and i freeze them. They were actually like $4.50 for 8 pieces (4 pies w/ doulbe crust) so I got 3 boxes. I make pot pies,pies,tarts and fold over desserts w/ pie filling. I got a new belgium waffle maker and I'm going to double batch some waffles and try out those cake mix waffles w/ the betty Crocker mixes i got for a buck. Dh likes the taco bell cinnamon crisp so I'm going to cit up some tortillas and then cinnamon sugar them. Making him a triple chocolate mix cake w/ choc frosting for his bday/ I might serve it w/ cherry pie filling.
He wants beef tips and noodle. I have cheaper steak to cut up w/ scissors. I fry it slow w/ lt. oil and add garlic powder. Then I just cook egg noodles. I put the beef on top of the noodles and add jarred beef gravy. He loves it. If I have sour dough bread I add that. If I mix sour creme in the gravy and mix the beef and noodles in its stroganoff. IDK Y but i put dried parsley on everything.

I used to make bread by hand and it was beautiful but that was a lifetime ago when needing didnt hurt and dogs werent underfoot so I think I need to start bread machining it again soon.

Tomorrow I am making the cheese brats w/ peppers and onions. I make some kinda potato because the potatoes are greening. I feel I can eat them if you peel them. I got this bean soup recipe off the youtube so I am going to open some up soon (brats) prob the hot ones,and try that. I have about 12 packages frozen from grilling sales. I may make DH a cherry pie ths week too.
 

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Ok here is my January meal plan!

1- Italian sunday supper (meat is short ribs)
2- L/o
3- Chili (crockpot)
4-l/o
5- Rotisserie chicken & veg (cause I make my costco run this day)
6-l/o
7-Chicken orzo soup with chard (that I make from the Rotisserie chicken carcass and any bits of chicken left on)
8- Teriyaki porkchops (freezer meal I gotta use up)(crockpot)
9- Enchiladas
10- l/o
11-l/0
12- grilled cheese and tomato soup
13- pepper steak (crockpot)
14- Baked fish (we have salmon, white fish, trout, walleye and pike all in the freezer. All but salmon caught by us)
15-Sunday supper (meat not sure yet. Maybe meatballs)
16- l/o
17- l/o
18- seasame chicken
19- tuna casserole
20- l/o
21- brats and beans
22- taco night
23- beef udon
24- l/o
25- chicken and broccoli braid
26- back straps with veg
27- l/o
28- pizza night
29- butternut squash soup
30- l/o
31- l/o

When I meal plan, I look at my work schedule as well. That's why you will see days I cook a few in a row, and days I have L/Os or crock pot meals.
 

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All great ideas - good thread.

FW - haha my eyes were playing tricks on me. I read flat as flap. I should have realized but you have some clever ideas so thought maybe meat flap was something new. Had a good laugh though.

We like leftovers so I will concentrate on cooking what we have on hand to begin the new year and then have it a couple days a week. I too only have the freezer on top of fridge.
 

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First week of January:

1. tuna sushi, spring rolls, brussels sprouts, peach tart
2. kibbe, almond rice, broccoli
3. baked chicken, veggie fries, salad
4. broccoli cheese soup, sourdough bread
5. baked chicken, zucchini fries
6. chuck steak, peas, baked potatoes
7. chicken stir fry, crab wontons, vegetable
 

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I found frozen bread dough at Kroger again, I love to spray 2 pans and shove 2 loaves in to rise at night. Then just bake off in the morning. I have a ton of flavored honey and lots of diff. jams. yum. And of course easy pizza too.

Dh and I were saying I should make some of my stir fry. It goes a long way (if we can stop pecking at it.

I soaked the beans overnight but I'm too tired to cook them so I hope if I drain them it will be ok for tomorrow. I did get the garlic cloves,have the onions,bay leaves,parsley,broth,canned black beans, and the hot sausage. I will decide about any more hot as I cook it.

CH-now you got me thinking about a sour dough bread bowl w/ broccoli cheese soup-ratz.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I'm old fashioned, I use a paper and pencil to plan my monthly menus. I get a calendar page from printfree.com. I write in pencil what meat we have on what day, sort of like ILC, but it is chicken (or turkey) every two (or sometimes 3) days, and then I fill in with fish once or twice per week, pork once or twice per month, pasta, etc according to DH's dietary restrictions. I leave one day a week blank, because inevitably we end up eating out, or we have a lot of leftovers to finish.
I use pen and paper too, except I use one of the free calendars we get from the insurance company, our church, etc. (I always buy a large-print calendar to use as our family calendar, so this is just an extra.) I write-in the "eat-out" nights for things like out of town travel, birthdays, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
First two weeks of January (the meals marked with a * are new recipes I'm trying--working toward 52 new recipes tried for the year):

1 - Crock-pot beans and rice
2 - Pasta Puttanesca
3 - Ham & Swiss Stromboli*
4 - Chili & Cinnamon Rolls (using leftover beans)
5 - Leftovers (or mac & cheese)
6 - Bean & Cheese burritos (using beans I froze from Sunday)
7 - Roasted turkey
8 - Cashew turkey salad sandwiches*
9 - Apple Chicken Curry*
10 - Leftovers
11 - Turkey Pot Pie (x2--will freeze one for another night)
12 - Spaghetti and meat sauce
13 - Eat out (DS's b-day meal)
14 - Pancakes, eggs, and sausage
 
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