Speedy Fool Proof Meal Planning

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What’s for dinner? These are the three famous words I hear on a daily basis from the members of the Novotny tribe. They do not like to hear my three word response: “I don’t know,” which usually means mom is now stressed out because she has no plans, is unorganized and has not been to the grocery store.

To avoid this situation I work at being proactive by creating a weekly, and even sometimes a monthly, meal plan so that my three word response is actually edible instead of “I don’t know.”

What about you? What’s for dinner in your house tonight?

Need some new ideas on meal planning organization? Here is a great article from Meg Fleming Lentz on Fool Proof Meal Planning .

Fool Proof Meal Planning

By: Meg Fleming Lentz

A typical day for most moms includes balancing an active and ambitious lifestyle with grooming, bundling and corralling children. Undoubtedly, at about 4:30 every day life will spin out of control and we find ourselves lying facedown on the kitchen floor with track marks across our backs… while the children ransack the cabinets for every possible combination of Cheese-It’s, Newton’s and uncooked spaghetti noodles (…still trying to figure that one out). This is when we need one of two things, chocolate… or a solid, foolproof plan.

Providing nourishment for our children can be exceedingly tricky when we don’t have any ingredients in the house. For some of us, the biggest hurdle in cooking for our family is getting our acts together before dinner is even a thought. This takes a little bit of foresight… but it is such a relief when it’s done!

If you’re anything like me, and the thought of taking a couple kids to the store drives you to hiding under a pile of laundry, then planning ahead and getting specific is the key. Here are a couple tips that help take the sting out of shopping and planning.

1. Shopping for dinner, breakfast, lunches and munches is not a treat with small children. Plan your trip for super-early or super-late if you have to… just go by yourself!

2. Take a quick scan of your calendar and pick a “type” of cooking for each weekday.

For me, it looks like this:

Monday- Crock Pot

Tuesday- Brinner (“Breakfast for Dinner”)

Wednesday- Souper Salad

Thursday- Mexican

Friday- Italian

3. Now, let the speedy Brainstorm session begin! Slap 5 Post-It notes on your counter. Write one day of the week and one dinner category on each Post-It.

4. As quickly as possible, write 3 dinners that you like to make (and eat!) under each category.

For example:




Tortilla Soup





In 10 minutes, you’ll have 15 meals brainstormed.

5. Plug each meal into your calendar for the corresponding day for the next three weeks. Chances are, you’ll have events on some nights during the week so you won’t be home for dinner. Plug those extra meals into the weekends.

6. Make your shopping list. If you’re really feeling savvy, use the grocery fliers to make the most of your dollar. It’s been my experience though, that by doing this, you’re already saving yourself a bundle of money because your trips to the store are more organized and therefore… more infrequent.

7. Get someone to watch your kids so that you can shop alone.

This method of planning has saved me a fist-full of money, gallons of gas and an incalculable amount of stress… not to mention the half-pound of broken spaghetti noodles rolling around my kitchen floor. Don’t stew about it. Just get it out of your brain and into your cabinet and the monkeys will stop climbing the counters!

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