The Monthly Meal Plan
by Kristy Gibson
I have to tell you that while I grew up in a household that cooked quite often, I felt I was stuck when it came to being able to cook on my own. In fact I never really learned to branch out until I got a boyfriend that really loved the idea of having home cooked meals. Because I was a silly stupid girl (who was actually in her mid-30’s with 7 year old twins) I decided to look for recipes to try out on the one night a week I could cook for him and my family. That made me brave and willing to try all sorts of recipes and creations. However all good things must come to an end, and when we broke up he dealt me the ultimate blow by saying that I wasn’t good enough in the kitchen department and I would never be able to smoke a turkey (which was one of the things planned since I had recently acquired a smoker). Let me say I obviously dodged a bullet there, and even smoked a turkey for that Thanksgiving.
Now of course I am much older and wiser, have since remarried, had another baby and there is literally something everyone wants: dinner. I hate dinner. I am sure moms across America can tell you having to figure out what is for dinner is the bane of their existence. (Now of course if you love to cook and don’t have these issues I applaud you.) I had always heard how creating a monthly meal plan of what is for dinner could help. There were many excuses I found to not create a meal plan, none of which make any sense to me today. Including: what if I don’t have the ingredients, won’t it get boring? And a bunch of other ones. However, things were getting a little out of control with my kids now in high school, a toddler, a husband that was trying his best as the pandemic made him a stay at home dad and me returning to work with a completely different schedule, so I decided I had to simplify some stuff in my life. Which is why I made a monthly calendar of meals.
Now I am not claiming to be an expert, but I can let you know that we are now into month 3 and I am loving the calendar and want to kick myself for not doing this sooner. Based on the meats that are on sale now, my calendar can fluctuate a little each week (especially if there is a good sale), but it is normally set for the month. I have listed the steps I used below:
Step 1 was to find calendar template online, which was super easy to do, though if you had a wall calendar or even a piece of paper you could do this.
Step 2 consisted of me deciding what I knew could be handled in my household if someone else had to do the cooking (i.e. the teens or the husband). These included very simple meals (tacos, spaghetti, stew, hamburger helper, tuna casserole).
Step 3 was putting them on the calendar. I made it simple and for the 1st month we literally had tacos every Tuesday, spaghetti every Wednesday (my late night at work) and we ordered out pizza every Friday.
Step 4 was deciding what to make on my days off. Here is when I made more elaborate meals. I would decide what I had in my fridge and cook from that. Also I made Saturday night our leftover night since often my husband worked, I had to stay late, or my kids were doing something. It also got rid of anything from the week before to help clean out the fridge.
My kids and husband have all gotten used to the calendar and now with cooler weather coming I am looking to change it up a bit with some of my fall recipes. If you have a monthly meal plan what’s on yours?