Six-Week Meal Plan
Last week I finally got sick of:
– Sitting down to make the usual 2-week meal plan and feeling like all the possible dinners were stale or boring, or that we had just had them
– Getting ready to do the weekly grocery shopping and having to count up how many chicken breasts, boxes of chicken broth, and potatoes I would need for that week
– Feeling like if I had a little more time to research, I could add in newer dinners and try new things
So I decided to make up a six-week meal plan, one that would actually schedule in all of the new things I wanted to try, have an exact count of ingredients I would need to buy when I shopped for the week, and one that was varied enough during the six weeks so that we wouldn’t feel like any dinner was wearisome by the time it came around.
First, I brainstormed and listed out a) every single meal that our family likes to eat, b) meals that I wanted to try out, and c) meals that included food that we should be eating more of for health’s sake but that I knew the kids didn’t like (like salmon). This list had 32 dinners. I started plugging them into a spreadsheet, and after some more cookbook-reading and website-browsing, I was able to conjure up a few more dishes to push the number a bit higher. I also ended up repeating a few of our favorite dinners, and deliberately scheduled in the use of leftovers. For example, leftover chicken from Wednesday’s Roast Chicken would get thrown into Chicken A La King on Thursday. As far as the kids not liking salmon, oh well, they’d only have to eat it once every six weeks!
Here’s a brief look at our plan. In Spain, lunches are big deals and dinners are small and simple, so for us, all of the following dinners are actually eaten at 2pm and are our main meal for the day. You may notice that we have a huge affinity to cheese, chicken, beef, and pasta. I don’t know how the kids eat like this and still are so skinny that I can see all of their ribs. Nate and I are definitely not as lucky! But the kids need their calories. At least, that’s what I tell myself when I’m cooking the cheesy stuff that they’ll actually eat (unlike salmon).
Merluza (a white Spanish fish) w/ Green Beans
Casserole (unspecified so we can try out different recipes)
Chicken and Broccoli
Pork Chops w/ Scalloped Potatoes and Peas
Lasagna or Something Fun
If you’d like to see the original spreadsheet with the menus and the shopping lists, please click here: Six Week Menu. It’s kind of in code: Eroski and Lidl are the two stores that I shop at on a rotating basis, and I can only get certain things at each one. Triturado stands for tomato puree, of which I use a ton because it’s cheaper to make sauces from puree than to buy them. Tomate Frito is just like tomato soup. And Grano Padano is a hard cheese, much like Parmesan, that can come grated. Our week starts on Monday because that’s when I go shopping, and for weekends I plan meals that are either easy or Crock-Pot worthy, given our tight schedules due to soccer games and church. The spreadsheet can definitely be improved upon – right now if I swap meals from one week to another I need to revise the entire shopping list for those two weeks – but for now I’m going to see how it works. If you have any other questions, let me know! And if you have your own extended menu, let me know if you have any ideas on streamlining the process.
And a word about grocery lists. Here’s what I’ve found to work the best for our family: Faith Grocery List. It’s a list of everything we buy regularly, and when we need something, we just circle it. It’s organized by store aisle. I print out a bunch at a time, double-sided, and then just cut them in half. One sheet of paper yields 4 of these grocery lists. We love them!
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