Barefoot by the Sea: Tuesday Tips - The Meal Plan

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday Tips - The Meal Plan

One of my goals for 2012 is to consistantly try to create, maintain and follow a meal plan.  Seems simple enough but I can't tell you how many times my "plan" goes to the wasteside because we just aren't feeling it?  We're starting the year off strong though and trying to allow for a little flexibility during the week. 

The lowdown - Basically, the meal plan is comprised of three main dinners for six days and allows for an optional night for something special, whether it be homeade pizza or a meal out.  Yes, it could be difficult encouraging leftover consumption but so far, everyone has been up to the challange and since my husband knows that this is a more economical way to eat our food, he's been very excited with the idea.  Plus, let's be honest - it's easy to eat a little better after and have a more strict plan after all the holiday indulgence!

"Eating well is expensive" - Our meals are full of whole grains and vegetables, with our main protein sources coming from beans, eggs and nuts.  The girls prefer it and again, from an economical standpoint, "the man of the house" does as well.  We leave our meat consumption to be on a special occasion, a Summer cookout or an evening out.  As I've said in the past, I pay attention to the sales so if I spot a great deal on something (like this week's $1.99 a pound boneless chicken breast), I'll incorporate it.  This allows for a lot of soups, stews and casseroles that really stretch into a couple of days.  We alternate the meals to reduce the boredom factor. 

Here is an example of this week's meal plan, composed of Creamy Spinach Enchiladas, Chicken Tikka Masala (the girls prefer is without the chicken) and Crockpot Enchilada Soup...a week of Mexican and Indian!  Last week, we focused on Italian, with Pasta Fagioli Soup, Lentil "Meatballs" with sauce and brocoli and lemon brocoli pasta.  Of course many of the entrees are accompanied by a salad or a vegetable too and luckily, we all enjoy that. 

Breakfast - Healthy, wholesome and economical!  We eat a lot of oatmeal, cereal and yogurt.  It's always accompanied by fruit to ensure everybody starts their day with a full belly of goodness.  Check out this heart healthy recipe here!  We reserve special breakfast treats like this for holidays and special occasions.

Lunches - Our lunches vary but my husband will take leftovers or opt for soup or a sandwich.  We typically will have egg sandwiches, fruit salad with yogurt, hummus, crackers and veggies or peanut butter/jam sandwiches.  The kids love to have "little bits" of fruit, cheese, veggies and nuts too. 

Snacks!  Who doesn't love a good snack?  The bottom drawer of my refridgerator are "grab and go snacks" - washed/precut and portioned veggies, apples and oranges.  We tend to eat seasonally so that we can get the freshest produce for the best value.  I also am focused on making three snacks weekly including muffins, cookies and granola.  This way, I can ensure the snacks we eat are low in sugar, high in fiber and all natural. 

Write it down!  I purchased an inexpensive notebook for meal planning, or you can download a free printable menu planner at The Project Girl.  If you have children, it's a great idea to post it where everybody can see it before they start their day that way they will have an idea of "what's for dinner" and won't protest if you have pasta and pesto on the menu instead of fish sticks. 

Avoid the rut!  I browse my favorite blogs, Bakeaholic Mama, Weelicious, Simply Healthy Family and Food Doodles to ensure I'm not getting stuck making the same old thing.  These blogs and websites also ensure the recipes are healthy and delcious.  Keeping it exciting and having variety ensures optimum nutrition and reduces the boredom factor. 

Sales & Coupons - Plan those meals around your sale flyers and the coupons you have matched up with those flyers!  With a little work you can create a well rounded meal plan (or that's the goal).  If you didn't catch my post about couponing, check it out here!

If you have any tips to share, I'd love to hear!  What's your weekly meal plan routine or do you just wing it? 

4 comments:

  1. I like to make a meal plan, I have a pantry inventory which I look at and then make the meal plan. I find that it helps when I don't buy ingredients I already have, and also it is nice to use up what is in the house. But, I like your idea of planning only 3 dinners. My meal plan usually has a new dinner every night and then the leftovers for lunch the next day. Breakfasts...well we are an oatmeal family. Oatmeal every day. And if you don't want oatmeal...you get coffee :-)

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  2. Thanks for the shout out!!

    Great meal planning tips... I'm a terrible planner. How does that work out when I write a food blog?!?!!

    PS... I WISH that hubby was home from work before polls close so I could have voted with out my 3 trouble makers!! Chase threw a CAR at some poor women... it was a scene and a half!

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  3. I must admit that it is much cheaper and quicker to eat fast food than to eat nice and healthy home-cooked food with lots fresh fruits and vegetable. In this case, I prefer to look in an other perceptive, thinking that I am investing time and effort for better home-cooked food resulting better health....so in regardless of dollars and cents, I still prefer to cook my own food :D

    I like the way I write about your thoughts.

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  4. I need to meal plan again great tips.new follower

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