We all know the struggle with creating a weekly meal plan. Trying to keep it balanced and to avoid the last-minute boxed Mac N’ Cheese dinners! And no one is worse at trying to come up with something on the fly then me. But thankfully there are millions of fantastic cooks out there that are more than happy to share with us their easy to whip up creations!
When it comes to dinner there are two factors that are a must for me:
FAST and CHEAP!
It all started with me working in retail full-time! I was just to plain exhausted when I came home after work, to spend more than 30 minutes to prep dinner for my starving family!
So I came up with this system that now after 2 years of using it, I am able to have dinner on the table in a flash, and do not repeat the same recipe within 3 month (only if someone is asking for it). And today I am sharing with you
Lets take a look at my weekly meal plan system!
[infobox style=”alert-info”] What you need:
A binder with sheet protectors
Meal Planning online app
Printer fully loaded with ink and paper [/infobox]
The binder is my holly grail of cooking. I keep my recipes back to back in the sheet protectors. This is optimal, as you can also do a meal cues online with several meal planning apps. But I prefer “hard copies”, I am just old school like that. And having the visual confirmation of my growing collection makes me happy.
Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and get settled in nicely, because you will be spending some time online now!
Sign up for a recipe and meal planning app (from now on referred to RAMPA 😉 )! The most popular was Ziplist for this. But unfortunately they shut down recently. I came across “Copy Me That” and it is amazing and a great substitute for Ziplist! It does all the things I used Ziplist for (shopping list, meal cues), and their costumer service is outstanding! Another plus for this website is that they offer a very printer friendly version of the recipes. My printer cartridges are forever grateful. Oh and guess what:
Copy Me That is totally FREE! No joke!
Now that you have set up your account, it’s time to add some recipes! First we start with family favorites. Add them to your virtual recipe box and don’t forget the ingredients. As this is the most important part for using this service. You can leave the cooking instruction out, if you know them by heart. Or you could add it, and then make your recipe public to share it with us! Print the recipes, and add them to the binder!
Next step is time-consuming but oh so much fun!
Create a board for “must try recipes” Do a search on easy weeknight dinner, and pin away! I use a secret Pinterest board for this so I don’t spam my followers, and after I try the recipe and it’s family approved i move it to my Yummy in my Tummy board.
It doesn’t have all our favorite recipes, but it is a good starting point for you to start your research
Follow the pins to the original website, read through the recipe, and if you want to try it out, add it to your RAMPA (most have a handy browser button for this), print it out, or pin it for future reference. Also take some time to browse a bit on the website, if you find a lot of recipes you like, subscribe to their newsletters! That way you will have new dinner inspirations right in your mail box every week.
Read through the comments! So you can see adjustment people made to make prep easier or to change-up the flavors!
Now that you established your family favorites and have (hopefully) tons of recipe inspiration on your board,
Let’s get to planning!
Always keeping your week’s schedule in mind, mix the rotation between old (binder) and new (Pinterest) throughout the week.
[infobox style=”alert-block”] Read the recipe carefully. It might say prep time is 15 minutes, but unfortunately that does not include the prep of ingredients. So prep time starts when all the ingredients are ready to go! So if you need about 3 lbs of potatoes peeled prior that will add quite a bit of prep time. [/infobox]
Almost there, next step: the Shopping List!
Using your RAMPA and weekly meal plan, find the recipes and with a click of the button, add it to your shopping list. When done, go into your shopping list, and do some collaboration of ingredients, move them in the right categories (the program gets those wrong sometimes) and delete everything you have already on hand! Print and you are ready to go!
After you have done this a few times, and you are getting familiar with the program, I promise that getting your shopping list ready wont take longer than 5 minutes tops!
When ever you cooked a recipe (and your family approves of the new one), just add it to the back of your binder, and eventually you will rotate back to it! I bet you, there will be at least a couple of recipes each week you are going to add to that binder and your collection will grow over time!
New post series coming!
I will be posting our weekly meal plan with you every Friday! And who knows you might come across a new family favorite! All the recipes will be easy, fast, and budget friendly, and will link back to the original. But I will note any changes I made, actual prepping time (including prep of ingredients) and any hurdles I came across (which happens a lot)
Happy pinning, planning, and most of all happy stress free weeknight cooking everyone!
Got any question about my system? Just ask away in the comments below. And I am curious, how does your cooking routine look like? And most important what are your favorite recipes, as I am always on the hunt for more inspiration.