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12 Dec 2011

Planning dinner menus monthly

Meal Management Tip

Do you plan your dinner menu? How far ahead?
 I use to plan a week ahead, making up my dinner meal plan before I went grocery shopping and I hated that pressure of trying to come up with dinner ideas. There were many repeat and very little new meal ideas popping in to the week.

I now plan my meals 4 weeks at a time.

I sit down with a blank calendar page I printed out from my outlook program. You can also print out a page from the internet.I have my grocery list,  my work schedule and my childcare schedule.



I put my work schedule on the calendar first, then my kid's caregivers. On the days I work I am not home for the dinner meal so I need to know my caregivers schedule.One of  them  is vegetarian and I don't ever want her to have to deal with raw meat or a casserole that contains meat. My oldest child also cooks one day a week and I plan her meal prep around meals she wants to learn how to make. The other caregiver is my aunt and she has a milk allergy so I make sure there is no cheese in the meals she is around to feed the kids. I try to keep the new recipes to the nights I am home- if it turns out bad I can always make the choices to have scrambles eggs instead.

Now I start to fill in the days with the meal ideas. I am trying to balance out our weeks with how often we eat a given meat, plus I try to plan a vegetarian meal once a week. We eat organic chicken about 3 days then fill it in with beef, fish and sometimes bacon, sausages or ham. I also make a slow cooker meal once a week.  I group meals together that are easy to cook at the same time and put one in the fridge for the next day. I will post at a later date meals that are like this.

 My shift rotation  also effects what gets onto the menu plan. Day shifts mean more during casseroles or pasta(lasagna, pasta bake and spaghetti) meals which are good "make ahead" meals. Afternoon shift lets me cook in the afternoon so the meal planning is easier. Night shifts dinner depends on whether I slept during the day or not -sometimes we eat out.

Plus my best meal managing tip is that on weekends (if I am at work or not) it is my husband's turn to cook . I started this about a 8 months after I was back to work full time. It took me that long to realise I really shouldn't be working full time AND cooking dinner every night.


For me planning 4 weeks at a time means
*grocery list planning IS easier as I am writing it onto the list as I make my plan-less forgotten items
* More variety as I have the opportunity to plan for some new recipe
*plus with all the variables that need to go into planning there is less stress that I 'dropped' the ball somewhere if I can see the bigger picture.



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1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a plan! would nice to hear how this worked out for you. I don't plan my dinners ahead mostly, but that's mostly because I don't *need* to at the moment. I hope you will be able to find some help on my blog. I have a lot of work-friendly snack ideas too:)
    http://muchadoaboutnoting.com

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