Menu Planning

So I am sitting here at work...not doing anything. Since I put in my notice, I am not getting any new cases and I really don't have anything to do. Which is great because it gives me time to sit here and think about other things in my life. And today I've been thinking about how Naeners and I are going to get a decent meal on the table every night that allows us to eat together at a reasonable hour and get the Mini-Stink in bed when he starts the night time sleepy fusses (usually between 6-7pm and it takes me about an hour to go through the whole bedtime routine with him).

My hope is that with my new job I will get home at a better hour than I do with my current one. The earlier I can get home, the better I am able to get dinner prepared, sit down and enjoy, and start getting the kiddo to bed. Ever since I brought the little guy home, I've been completely scattered brain with grocery list making, coupon clipping, and dinner planning. We've been doing the whole grocery shopping and "what's for dinner tonight?" by the seat of our pants. I don't like doing it that way because we wind up eating really shitty dinners and paying way too much for groceries.

So I've been trying to develop a plan for dinner menu planning to incorporate make-ahead-freezer meals as well as really quick and easy make-it-that-night recipes. I also want to get the most bang for our buck when it comes to grocery shopping. I am not sure where to get started, and I feel like a deer in headlights right now.

Here is what I know I want to do when it comes to getting dinners on the table for us:
  • Buy the meats based on what is on sale at the grocery...that's the best time to stock up on a particular meat and freeze.
  • Stock up on other items based on the sales and coupons each week.
  • Have a deep stash of ready-to-cook meals in the freezer (we're getting a box freezer from my parents for Christmas).
  • Have a plan each night of the week for what we are going to eat. Since the hubby gets home before I do, he can get things started and I can finish them off.
  • Create a database or some sort of system for planning and logging recipes.
  • Cut my grocery shopping down to one time per week and get everything that is needed at that time.
  • Shop based on a list and stick to the list.
I know what I want to do, I just don't know how to get started. I need a base to work from, but I am thinking that I am going to have to take some extra time and maybe a little extra money up front to get this started.

I want dinners to be pleasurable, good for us, and easy to make. We don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen these days.

I am wondering if anyone out there has any ideas on how they get dinner on the table after working all day and coming home to a family. Any ideas or suggestions are truly welcomed.


  1. Our original goal was to stop spending so much money eating out, but we never were organized enough to do anything but!

    So we do the Grocery Game. You pay a monthly fee, but in return the site gives you the cheapest place to get grocery items based on coupons from the inserts in the newspaper in your area. Saves you time because you know when the best time to get toothpaste is because you can check the site and it tells you and also what coupon to use and from what newspaper insert!

    The second thing we did is Dine Without Whine. Every week they send you a menu and an associated shopping list to minimize costs and maximize the probability you actually cook. It's so easy. Some of the recipes aren't great, but a lot of them are really easy and cheap and good. There is a monthly fee, but it was worth it to us.


  2. I find it totally wild that you work for the CPS. I posted something before about placing my baby in an oven and some readers took me so seriously, I thought they were gonna call CPS on me. Ummm... so yeah. Please don't let them take my baby. I was just kidding.

    Anyway, I really should follow your tips. Thank you. I hate that I'm typing this comment while munching on a slice of pizza I ordered from Papa Johns.

  3. I do a lot of simple meals: pork chops with green beans and shallots and bread, pasta with pesto sauce, baked apples for dessert.... Maybe you could gather some simple/one pot meal recipes to pull from. Also, with fruits and vegetables you could buy in season stuff only. It's usually better and less expensive. Then you can try building menus around what you find at the grocery store.


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