For the past six weeks I’ve been creating (are actually sticking to) two week meal plans.  It takes me about an hour to come up with a menu and the necessary grocery lists.  Yes, there are two lists.  One for Week 1 and one for Week 2.  Here’s how I go about putting it all together.

First, my family has some considerations that make meal planning a little trickier.  The hubby works some graveyards and the older girls are sometimes with their dad.  This means that I plan for anywhere from 2-5 people.  I make notes on my menu so that I know how many I’m cooking for.

This is the meal plan for the two week period starting last Sunday.

Hubby Girls    
O   Sun Meatball Subs, SP fries
D   Mon Lasagna Rolls, green veggie
D   Tues Tacos
D   Wed Crockpot beans and rice
D   Thur Beef tagine, quinoa
O   Fri Calzones, Salad
O Gone Sat Garlic balsamic steak, SP, green veggie
O Gone Sun Mustard crisp chicken, 2 veggies
O   Mon Turkey meatloaf, corn, roast red potatoes
O   Tues Chicken parm, quinoa, green veggie
O   Wed Taco Salad
O Gone Thur Turkey bacon BLT’s
N   Fri Breakfast for dinner
N Gone Sat Out


You’ll see that I have a column for the hubby and the girls.  His column notes his shift that day (N = Nights, D = Days, O = Off).  When he is off I can plan easy meals that he can prepare or prep before I get home from work.  On the rare occasion that I’m alone with my youngest daughter for dinner we often eat whatever we can find or grab something quick.

Once I’ve planned out my menu I gather the recipes and make my grocery lists.  The list for Week One includes 90% of the groceries.  Anything shelf stable or freezable goes on this list.  Week Two is reserved mainly for fresh produce that won’t keep for two weeks.  Also, I don’t really plan what veggies I’m going to buy.  I try to pick whatever looks good and is reasonably priced.  I do try to make it a point to serve green veggies a few times a week.

This plan has been working wonderfully and has drastically cut down on our food budget.  We spend less on groceries because there are virtually no mid-week runs to the store where I inevitably spend four times what I mean to.  We eat out less because we’re never left wandering what we should cook that night and just give up and go out when we can’t decide.

Of course the plan is always flexible.  I’ve already had to swap tonight and Thursday night because I realized that I have Bunco Thursday and the Beef Tagine is not something the hubby is going to prepare for just him and the kids.  Tacos are much more his style.

I hope this post helps explain why spending about an hour every other friday planning meals is helping save my sanity and our budget.  It would save even more if I was to sit down with the local sales ads and possibly coupons but I just haven’t found the time for that yet.