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Menu Making 101

Do you despise having to come up with dinner plans after a long day of work? I know I do. Behold-the answer to the 'What's for dinner tonight?" question: a 'meal plan' system. Ryan and I implemented this at the start of the new year, and let me tell you-it's been a life saver come dinner time. Our plan includes lining up meals for the week, grocery shopping in line with what we'll need for those meals, and a day/time to do some small preparations. This way, we stay on a grocery budget and save a little time during the week. Here's the breakdown:

For the two of us, it's easy to branch out and try different meals. Our plethora of cook books and love for Food Network gives us plenty of ideas for that. If we see something we both like, we make a note of it. Come 'list making' day, we break out the recipe and make an inventory of what we already have and what we'll need. We don't do this just for one meal; but for all meals we plan for that week. We plan flexible meals-things that can be moved around based on how we end up feeling come the end of that day. I guess you can say it's more of a "meal list" system. Regardless, we're able to stick to it because we have this list of meals ready to go. We write it down, too, to ensure we stick to it. Amazon is where we got our calendar, and it lives on our fridge, but you can really use whatever you want to, as long as it's something and somewhere you'll see everyday.

This is an example of how we 'list' our meals. We leave room for leftovers, too-nothing goes to waste!!!!!

We typically grocery shop on a Saturday/Sunday morning. That way, by Sunday afternoon, we can do some prep work. For example, I personally eat salad for lunches during the work week. Sunday afternoons are when I like to get all the salad fixings ready: I cut the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onion, carrots, etc. That way, come lunch time, I just have to put everything into a bowl, add my dressing, shake and done! We'll do something similar for dinners too-say we're having steak tips one night. We'll get them marinating (we usually buy marinated and do our own marinades). Then, we can have them whenever we want that week because they're ready to go! We'll do that for chicken, too.

The menu---saving dinner one night at a time!

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