October 2, 2013

Menu Planning 2013

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Sometimes thinking about dinner and planning dinner every night drives me crazy.  I really do love to cook, but when I don't plan our meals, I fail our meals.  We go out to eat WAY too much, and I honestly spend WAY too much on groceries.  The result?  We spend a lot of money on food, when we really don't need to!

I try really hard to menu plan every weekend.  I have this cute thing on the wall in my kitchen...

It's just a frame, spray painted of course, with some pretty paper inside of it.  I write our meals right on the glass with a dry erase marker, and then wipe it clean every week and start again.

Having that helps a lot when planning our meals because I have a daily, visual reminder of what I am cooking each night.  But, it's not enough.  I usually plan around what I have, or what I buy, when really it should be the other way around.  I need to plan first, then buy.  I know this.  I know it saves money.  I know it saves time.  I know that it keeps me from buying pointless things that we don't need.  So why don't I do it?  I have no idea!!!

I've decided to try.  I've been meaning to try, and I never set aside time to figure it all out.  I've been reading some great blog posts about menu planning.  This one in particular over at Life{in}Grace.  She started a month of planning meals in October, and she links back to some really great posts she wrote earlier this year. Seriously, you should read them!  

I'm loving some of the recipes she posted for her October meals, and I am definitely going to try them!  Be looking for some pics and reviews of some yummy meals!!  I've printed about a dozen of them.  I also like her idea of using Google Calendar and syncing it to my iPhone, so I am going to try that.  I've already started...

It's going to take me a while to get this up and running, but I'll post more {and better} pictures when I do.  You can read all about it here, but basically the idea is you plan your meals on this calendar, you can set to repeat them as often as you like, and then sync with your phone and have all your meals AND the recipes right there in the palm of your hand every day.  It's also very cool because once you do this planning out for a month or two or three, you basically have a lifetime of dinners planned and only need to tweak it and add to it as necessary.  We have family favorites that I make at least once a month, sometimes twice, so that repeat option is very cool.  I'm excited to try this!

So, with the recipes I've printed out and some tried and true meals we love, I'm going to make a grocery list based off what we need for next week and only buy those items, plus the everyday things like milk and eggs, this weekend at the store.  I'm hoping it'll help my shopping ADHD!

Oh and on Monday I made something really yummy that I read about over at Young House Love {I really love to read blogs} They are called Savory Crescent Chicken Squares and they were a hit with my family.  I made them with a salad.  I like this recipe because you can jazz it up if you want!  Next time I am definitely adding mushrooms.  Oh and sidebar...I needed 2 tubes of the crescent rolls for this, it made a lot of filling?  You can keep it a little healthier by using low fat cream cheese, and the low fat rolls.

And while we are talking blogs and food, if you haven't been introduced to Pioneer Woman, you need to be!!  I absolutely love her blog and her cookbooks are without a doubt some of my favorites.  She makes seriously awesome food.  She's on Food Network now too, which is so cool!  You'll fall in love with her, I know it!

I'll keep you updated with the efforts and results of my menu planning research and experiments.  I'm looking forward to feeling more 'together' with this whole dinner thing.  There just something about know what's for dinner that makes me feel like I have my life together, know what I mean?