Planning For a Month of Dinners

I’m not going to actually give you a list of meals for a month in this post. Every family has its favorite foods and there may be dietary restrictions or allergies to consider for your family. This is more of a how-to planning for the month’s dinners.

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First look at your family’s calendar to determine the number of days you’ll actually be eating dinners at home. Perhaps you eat at home every night but if certain dates mean you won’t be eating at home you can deduct them from the number of meals you plan.

Go over any recipes you’ve found that you wanted to try. I like to change things up so I frequently go online or look at magazines for new ideas. I sprinkle the new recipes throughout the month along with family favorites.

If you like to keep things more reliable you can have certain types of dinners on certain nights; perhaps you have Spaghetti Tuesday every Wednesday or make a big pot of soup every Sunday. There may be specific days of the week you want to reserve for super quick and easy meals. Use whatever method suits your needs best. I like slow cooker meals for Saturdays since we take the boys to play with their friends on Saturday afternoons. By the time we get home I’m really tired and all I have to do is put together a salad and plate dinner. If I’m making something that freezes well I’ll make a double batch and freeze half. I always note if I’m making a double batch of something on my calendar. It’s one more night I don’t have to worry about cooking.

Write out the menu for the month and post it so you’ll know which ingredients you’ll use first. When you finish your shopping you can freeze anything that won’t keep until you’re ready to use it.

Write a list of every dinner you’ll prepare during the month. Check your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer for ingredients you currently have on hand then write the ingredients you’ll need to buy for each dinner on your grocery list. I like to write ingredients for each recipe on a separate sheet of paper then total the amounts I’ll need for all the dinners and add them to my grocery lists.  I mix complicated, labor intensive dishes with easy ones so I don’t burn myself out.

Go through your coupons and put the applicable ones with your list. Take your coupons and list(s) and head to the store. I like to do a lot of shopping at Walmart but I also go to Aldi. I usually make two lists so I know get the best deals on items. I go to Walmart first since it’s in close to our village. The next day I head to Aldi since it’s almost two towns away. I just make sure I don’t need anything from the Aldi list for dinner on my Walmart shopping day.

Prepare any make-head meals if you’re doing them. I like to take a day off after shopping then prepare some meals for the freezer. I’ll note that those meals are frozen on my calendar and when I need to take them out to thaw before cooking.

Sit back and relax knowing your dinners have been planned for the entire month.

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