My Meal Planning Process: A Glimpse of One Week’s Dinners

I love to plan meals!  I love to cook and I love to go to the grocery store. But what I don’t like is going into the week or into the store unprepared. So usually, the day or up to three days before I go grocery shopping, I sit down with a notepad and a pen at my computer and I look at Pinterest and various other internet sites to decide what sounds good for dinner this week. I also look at my calendar and how many nights our family will be able to sit down to eat together at our leisure verses the nights we need to hurry a bit, the nights I have opted to bring a friend dinner or a treat and the nights/days where we want to host a few people over and will need a snack or meal to share. I also consider lunches for my son to take to school, my husband to take to work (which is usually leftovers from dinner) and what the littles and I will eat at home/on the go for lunch throughout the week.

Here is this week’s dinner meal list:

Creamy Carrot Soup w/ Swiss Turkey Melts
Baked Ham with Roast Sweet Potatoes
Cuban Black Bean Soup w/ Quesadillas
Buttermilk Roast Chicken (x2 because I’ll be bringing this meal to a family who just had a baby) with smashed new/red potatoes
Beef Stew or Chili
Sneaky Macaroni and Cheese with steamed broccoli

The beauty of these meals is that a few of them will use leftovers or other ingredients from other meals. For example, the turkey melts will use some of the turkey I’ll have around for lunches this week, the baked ham that will be leftover I’ll use for the Black Bean Soup and anything else leftover will make lunches for my honey to take to work!

Additionally I put a few snack recipes on the list:

Spinach Queso Dip
Black Bean Hummus
Oven “Fried” Cheese bites

Once I’ve established my list of things to make for the week, I look at my kitchen and determine what I need verses what I have on hand, then I create my shopping list! I prefer to grocery shop early in the morning (i.e. 8:30 am) on weekdays, so I usually have my two small children with me. Read: highly distracted shopper Because I know I’ll be distracted and I HATE back-tracking/roaming aimlessly through the store, I actually write out my grocery list by aisles. I know…anal right? It’s so helpful though.

This is what works best for me and helps me to avoid the frequent stops at the store throughout the week. The better I stick to my list and the better my planning process, the less likely I have to “swing by” the store after my big grocery run. I hope this is helpful to you too!

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