Thoughts for Thursday: Meal Planning Menu

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Thoughts for Thursday

Last week after I posted about our budget and meal planning a few of you emailed me asking what our menu/meal planning looked like so I figured I would do a post on it.   I want to warn you all that it isn't very exciting and I'm not a huge cook but it's what works for us and is helping to save money.

As I mentioned in the original post, which you can find here,  we don't just plan dinner we plan all meals and snacks for the week. So most likely there is a lot of repetition and leftovers. 

Let me give you a background on how each of us eats :
 Natalie- I am one of those people who could eat the same thing over and over again and once I find something I love I stick with it.  I pretty much have "a meal" at every restaurant and I never ever order something different.   I consider breakfast my most important meal of the day and am less concerned with dinner.
Miller-  Food is still very hit or miss with him but I'm going to tell you what I make him for every meal.  Does he always eat it?  Not always, but we're still trying.
Kyle- Needs a ton of variety and flavor in his meals.  Considers dinner the most important meal of the day and doesn't worry too much about breakfast or lunch. 

Kyle and I always discuss the dinner menu on Sundays for the week because one of our biggest challenges prior to meal planning was that I would cook/prep a dinner and then he wouldn't be "in the mood" for it and just eat something else or make his own dinner.  This got super frustrating and caused stupid fights.  So now you have to eat what's being cooked for the designated day or we can switch days as long as we discuss it before hand. 

Here are some sample meals that we eat each week:  

Natalie-  1 egg sprinkled with shredded cheese on a whole grain english muffin
                 1/2 cup fruit

Miller- 1.5 pancakes, waffles, or toast with butter (I make a batch of waffles or pancakes on the weekends and then freeze them for M or myself to eat during the week)
             1/4 -cup fruit

Kyle- 1 Fage fruyo yogurt and coffee (from his office or home, no more trips out for coffee)

I eat the same exact thing for breakfast every single day.  Sometimes instead of an egg sandwich I might have an egg and toast or egg with a waffle but I'm pretty boring.  Miller doesn't usually eat everything I give him and fruit is still a bit of challenge but this is what I offer him. Kyle will usually grab a yogurt or just skip breakfast all together.   

- hummus with celery or pretzel chips
- apple with peanut butter
- kind bar
- string cheese/laughing cow cheese
- cheese and crackers
- greek yogurt
- cheerios with fruit or cheese slices for Miller 

We try to pick out 2 of our snacks to have in the house each week.  I try to keep snack food to a minimum because I LOVE snacks and I will eat everything we have instead of having dinner.   I always have cheerios for M because he loves them and then I add cheese or fruit to them for him to snack on. 

Natalie-Tomato, spinach, mozzarella salad with peanut butter or avocado toast
             Frozen Amy's meal 
             Leftovers  from dinner

- jelly sandwich
- avocado toast
- grilled cheese
- mac and cheese
- 1/4 cup fruit or veggies

Kyle-  I usually make Kyle a turkey/ham sandwich, chips,  and snack (kind bar or apple) for lunch. He has a lot of work lunches so I probably only make him lunch 3 days a week on average.  
leftovers from dinner


- Mac and cheese with broccoli
- Ravioli with broccoli
- Chicken and sweet potatoes
- Cheese quesadilla with avocado
These are some dinners that currently work for M.  He only likes to have 2 different foods on his plate or he won't eat it.   Would love suggestions on easy toddler dinners if anyone has any!  M isn't exactly the biggest eater quite yet but we're slowing working on it. 

Here are our go-dinners:   
- Turkey Tacos with sliced avocado
- Chicken fajitas 
- Garlic and Shrimp with french bread
- Grilled buffalo chicken on biscuits
- Grilled BBQ chicken sandwiches
-  Ravioli with garlic bread
- Seasoned salmon/fish
- Baked Chicken Chimichangas
- Shrimp fajita salad 
- Pasta with caprese salad
- Salsa chicken
- Lime and cilantro chicken
- Lemon pepper salmon
- Baked chicken with salad and bread as a side (seasoned as we choose)
- Shrimp and vegetable stir fry

Here is what a typical week might look like: 
Sunday-  Baked chicken option
Monday-  Turkey Tacos
Tuesday- Lime and cilantro chicken
Wednesday- Lemon pepper salmon
Thursday- Ravioli
Friday or Saturday- Grilled buffalo chicken on biscuits
-out to dinner or get take out one night a week  

For sides:  I usually have a small salad with my dinner or green beans or broccoli. I sometimes eat the starch but not usually, dinner is not a big meal for me.  Kyle usually has the veggie in addtion to bread, a roll, garlic bread, baked potato, sweet potato, or french fries.    I keep a bag of frozen rolls or biscuits and garlic bread in our freezer since we can't ever eat fresh bread fast enough.   Plus then it's easy for Kyle to just pop one in and I'm not wasting anything.  We also eat mostly frozen veggies. 

We try to eat seafood once a week. On the days we eat the seafood meal I usually buy it that day from Wegmans, Whole Foods, or our seafood market and then get fresh bread to eat with it.   We always have a meat free meal or two and mix it up in the surrounding days.  Wednesday is a day that Kyle is usually home earlier so we usually have our seafood dish on that night so he can eat it freshly cooked.  We grill on Fridays or Saturdays and get take out or go out to dinner one of those days.

We always keep one dessert in the house each week (hence why I skip the carbs at dinner) it's usually an ice cream treat but sometimes it's brownies or cookies.   I have a huge sweet tooth and have to have dessert after dinner.     

I hope this helps everyone who asked.  As I said it's not the most exciting but it's what works for us right now.  If you have any questions feel free to ask me and if you have any simple dinners that your family loves I would love to hear about them.   

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  1. I think it's great that you meal plan. I want to start doing it too, but my hubby doesn't like the idea. He's kinda like Kyle and has to be "in the mood" for something. Since he's a fireman, his schedule allows him to be home a lot and he does the cooking and shopping - so I let him decide that day. It does get frustrating though because it means that he has to go to the supermarket almost everyday!!

    Your rotation sounds delicious and healthy!

  2. We've never done a meal plan before, but I've been thinking about it more and more. I know it would save me a lot of time during the week. We only have 1 picky eater in our family, so choosing meals wouldn't be too hard. It's the prep work that always gets me. Do you have a day or two where you prep everything ahead of time? And what are your recipes for those meals? They sound delicious and very easy to make too!

    Here are two favorite dinners of ours: http://www.petitfoodie.com/?s=skinny+shrimp
    and http://www.sweetlittleonesblog.com/2014/06/parmesan-crusted-chicken.html This one goes great with a Caesar salad, or any salad really.

    Thanks for sharing! This has given me some inspiration to try meal planning!

  3. Natalie, I'm dying over your descriptions of how each of you in your family eat because it is the EXACT same way in my house! Ugh, I get so frustrated that Matt never will eat leftovers and he needs a huge gourmet dinner every night with meat, starch and veggie!! I'm loving your meal planning. This is such a tough thing especially now that it seems to all fall in our shoulders once we be on SAHMs!!

  4. I love this meal planning idea. I always feel so motivated at the beginning of the week, then by wed I feel ready to go out bc I don't want to cook! I need to change my ways! I bet you guys save a lot of money only going out once a week. Thank you for the inspiration! I love seeing what other people eat (is that weird?).

  5. Love that you shared this! I meal planned each week up until Lily was born and it has just kind of gone out the window since then. I guess after she is down for nap or bedtime, I just don't want to put forth the effort. Ha! When do you find time? This was really inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I really like your "2 snacks in the house" idea...that would do us a lot of good.

  7. Your meal plan sounds almost exactly like mine. Im not very experimental with dinner, we tend to stick with alot of the same things and usually once a week make something I never have before. My daughter eats the same thing almost everyday. I like how you keep one meal meat free and one meal a seafood, thats a good idea.

  8. liam is not a big eater either...still trying to get him away from the purees. its tough though and then it seems like he just waits for me to give him his milk. these boys certainly keep us on our toes!

  9. Do you not just love Wegmans!?! Hands down my most favorite grocery store!!!

  10. Wow! You are super organized! I love doing a meal plan at the beginning of the week too. THat way grocery shopping is easier as well. That being said, I do veer off sometimes though. ANd i have the worst sweet tooth so I love an after dinner splurge :-)

  11. This is a really great post! I'm like you in that I often find a meal and stick with it. I always get depressed when it takes me hours to make a new meal and it totally sucks. We end up trashing it and eating oodles and noodles anyway..which is why I don't get crazy when it comes to food. Lime and Cilantro chicken is my fav! The Grilled Buffalo Chicken sounds awesome as well!

  12. I love this! I am so happy that I am not the only boring eater out there. I really need to take your lead and get on the meal planning band wagon.

  13. Good to hear that I'm not the only person who can find a food and stick with it...for what seems like forever. My daily menu is pretty much the same...literally never changes. It makes grocery shopping for myself easy.


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