Friday, July 23, 2010

How I plan meals for my family

I was asked to share about planning meals for my family on the POH blog. And Kelly is doing a "Show us Your life" -- Organization blog fest. So I thought I might as well post about how I organize our meals.

For breakfast, we usually have some kind of eggs and fruit and often some kind of grain (pancakes, waffles, toast, muffins, quinoa, oatmeal, etc.) I know you might think breakfast takes forever if I'm always cooking eggs, but it really only takes a minute to fry or scramble some eggs. And they are just so good for us! Eggs contain every nutrient your body needs except Vitamin C! Needless to say, my little family goes through 3 dozen eggs a week :) We have recently started grinding our own grain so I've been trying to make it all from scratch since its so much healthier. But I always make extra pancakes, waffles, muffins, etc, and freeze them so I really only cook such things once or twice a week. We do not usually does not eat store-bought cereal for breakfast because its processed and not really that good for us. Instead, I make my own cereal and granola to have on hand for quick breakfasts. HERE is a list of our favorite breakfasts.

I don't plan lunches because we usually just eat leftovers or a simple sandwich. We LOVE coconut oil and it is sooooo incredibly good for us! We use it instead of mayonnaise or Ranch or other spreads on our sandwiches. It is sweet, so I've found that we no longer even need jam with our peanut butter sandwiches or syrup on our pancakes. And it makes the best greasy, healthy grilled cheese sandwich ever :)

Snacks are pretty consistent. We usually has plain, unsweetened, home-made yogurt or unsweetened applesauce with homemade granola, or we eat some fruit and cheese and almonds or pecans. And I make healthy homemade butter crackers and graham crackers that my girls ask for throughout the day when they want to munch. I'm still working on getting my husband to give up his chips and Kudos bars for snacks, but he's slowly giving in to more healthy snacks :) HERE is a list of some of our favorite snacks.

I plan my weekly dinners from an excel spreadsheet that I've made of all our favorite meals. We have over 70 options so that I'm not making the same thing in the same month. However, I usually double the recipe whenever possible and freeze a meal for a busy day, so my family definitely receives some repetition. I also LOVE to try new recipes, so I deviate from my list every so often. But its worth it, because I'm constantly finding new favorites. My goal is to have the following each week: two dinners from the freezer that I made previously, two simple, healthy meals with fresh ingredients, try out one new recipe, CORN night (clean out the refrigerator night) and cook at least one recipe that doubles and freezes well to keep my freezer stocked. Some weeks I manage this and some weeks are crazy :) I have an ongoing list on my fridge that shows what meals I have already made in the freezer so that I don't forget about them. I also have an ongoing word document on my laptop filled with recipes that I want to try. When I am planning my menu for the week, I have all three of my lists before me so its quite simple to make a plan. HERE is a list of my recipes that freeze well.

Some of these meals are more expensive than others, so we definitely don't have them as often as the others. Not all of these meals are super healthy, but I am trying to gradually change them to use more whole foods and natural ingredients. This has been a gradual process for me due to lack of funds and time and most of these recipes haven't been converted to the healthy version yet :) We do try to have fruit with every meal and veggies at least at dinner.


thepeckfamily said...

I have 2 unrelated questions for is concerning yogurt for Karis. I've been using the Stoneyfield Farm with fruit because it's organic and I can't find their plain whole milk kind at Walmart. Do you know anything about that brand? Also, for your Hawaiian Chicken Pile Up, do you cube and/or cook the chicken first? Thanks!!!

Mark'sMeg said...

I also get the organic Stonyfield brand of yogurt. It seems to be the only one I can find that actually uses whole milk, which is important since Karis is so skinny. But I can only get the plain, whole milk kind at Kroger in their organic section or at Harris Teeter. With the Hawaiin chicken pile-up, I just let it cook in the crockpot with the soup, milk, and cream cheese all day :)

Frank & Kristin McQuiddy said...

Hi Meg,

You don't know me but my friend Lauren Beckner got me hooked on your meals blog! I saw the link to your blog through hers and since I love to cook I have found your blog so much fun. I think you're right about how much it saves to make a weekly meal plan. I am going to add some of your recipes to my list so that I can try new things. Anyways, just wanted to introduce myself and say thank you for unknowingly inspiring my kitchen. :)
-Kristin McQuiddy

Val, Mike, Brax and Harper said...

wow.... impressive!

Anonymous said...

I also love freezing premade meals, however I only do a couple at a time because I have only had long term success with glass dishes with lids. What do you use?

Tara@JustDevineStyle said...

I am so excited to look through your recipes. Thanks so much for sharing them. We love eggs too. We have 21 chickens and it gets crazy when the kids dont get the eggs sold regularly. I mean what do you do with 16-21 eggs a day?? lol I am now a follower!

Shayla said...

Wow, thanks for all the great recipe links! I can't wait to try some of these. Do you have a favorite?

Meg said...

Thanks for your encouraging comments! If I am freezing casseroles, I usually use a "mold" technique -- I line my glass casserole dish with saran wrap and reynolds wrap so I can pop it out when it is frozen so I can use my dish again. I haven't had any issues with frostbite, but we usually eat what I have frozen within a month's time.

We kind of go through spurts as far as our favorite dishes, but right now we are loving the spaghetti squash casserole and fried tacos :) And for breakfast, the cinnamon-apple omelet wins hands down every time. But most of our top favorites are labeled "husband's favorite" so those are probably the best to choose from if you need a suggestion :)