With a big family comes lots of hungry bellies and lots of running around. I love to keep life a little more simple. Hey, mama's got to have her time too, right? Our kids will eat pretty much anything that doesn't eat them first and that is a bit of a burden on the budget but also not good for some of them. We have two of our precious boys that are heavier. We don't want them to struggle with their weight so we are trying to teach them to eat healthy. I have turned to meal planning and grocery booking (price book) to come to the rescue.
I do my meal plans a little differently that other ladies I know who meal plan. I use a word document and divide up to breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I have it on four 4 week cycles... one for each season. We do more soups and stews in the fall and winter and more salads and grilling in the spring and summer. I include a weekly shopping list for each weeks menu. I then go and check the sales ads as to where I need to go. I laminate them so I can cross what I already have or have already put in my cart off the list. I like to be able to reuse my list and menus.
I include two left over days on our menus. One is always Thursday for dinner. We have scouts that night and really pushed for time that day. It is so much easier for us to do that. The other day is Sunday lunch time. That way we can all come home from church and relax and it clears the clutter for where I make a large Sunday dinner. Plus I hate food waste. It is a major pet peeve for me! I actually save left over veggies and fruits out of the serving bowl, bones, soups, broths, meat, and grains without sauce. I put them in separate bags in the freezer. I use leftover bones, onions, carrots, celery, peppers to make bone broth. I save left over broths and veggies, grains and meats for soups or casseroles. I save fruits for smoothies or compote. I will freeze yogurt and milk right before it goes out of date and will mix it will the fruit and some ice to make fruit sherbet or ice cream (we love banana ice cream).
I use a lot of ziplock bags. I do rinse and reuse until they are on their last leg. Once I realize I am only going to get one more use out of it, I will use it for raw meat. I do not reuse bags that have contained raw meat.
What are some of your meal planning tips?