meal planning numero dos.

Ok, these steps are the meat of the operation so I'm going to walk you through slowly.
If at anytime you think that I'm too anal about this or should probably just calm myself down and not write EVERYTHING out all the time, you're probably right.
But, this is how I roll.

So let's start this thing off right.
Get your computer, your notebook, your calendar, your water bottle (hydration is key), and any cookbooks you'd like to have.
If a scented candle or some Kenny G helps, I say go for it.


- Double check your calendar for your week plans, how will they affect how you can make dinner and if there are any extra events you forgot.
- Then I write in the absolutes. What do I absolutely know will happen this week and what foods will I need to make.



.... so this is sort of a boring meal planning week for me. I only really have three dinners to plan! But if I have a dinner to plan at all, this is where I turn.
(insert angelic music)


I LOVE this cookbook. It's simple, very healthy, and not too complicated recipes to boot.
- A word on budgeting: This is a good time to look at your absolute meals and see how you should base the rest of your week. So, this week in particular, I can see my absolute M.F.C. (see last post) are kind of high budget. So I know automatically, I want to keep my other meals vegetarian and cheap if possible.
.... and this is what I settle on.

Saturday: roasted veggies (for me) and grilled cheese sandwiches (Nick's fave) with some maple-glazed plantains because I've had some plantains for like a week, trying to get those suckers ripe.
Monday: veggie pad thai. Nick's fave.
Wednesday: I'm making the same thing for us that I'm taking to the new-baby-family so we can double up on ingredients.
Thursday: I'll be at a baby shower, so I'll make Nick and the kids the most non-gluten free/dairy-free thing possible: homemade cheese pizza.
Friday: Nick will most likely be gone so I'll feed the kids something fun and kiddish and make my personal favorite meal, kale & quinoa salad.

Then, to get really meticulous, I give each meal a letter - then break down what ingredients I know I'll need by meal. This way I can see what ingredients will do double duty for meals.


Now, back to inspiration. Jillian's is my cookbook du jour for healthy goodness, but for special occasions, I like to hit up a little Giada.


So that's where my watermelon-basil-skewers recipe is from.
My fried chicken recipe is literally Paula Dean's. I wasn't kidding yesterday.
For other internet inspiration, I love www.katheats.com, www.thefoodnetwork.com, and www.bethenny.com. Almost every week, I pick up a new cookbook from the library, read it like a novel, and tuck away the ideas or recipes for an upcoming week.
Also, watching the food network helps too.

Lastly, one more note on budgeting. This is a weird trick.
I shop almost exclusively at Trader Joe's and over time I've noticed that if I multiply the number of items on my list by $3, it is almost always an accurate to the total of my grocery bill - within about $5. So for my big meals, I'm already at $75. This is good to keep in mind when making my final list that includes produce, snacks, and drinks. It might be that we choose not to get processed snacks for the kids that week and stick to apples or I might not get premade black tea, and make my own instead to stay close to budget.
If you shop somewhere else, you could measure your average per list item over time too!

ok, next week I'll move on to lunch planning, kids food, and breakfasts.
and then dun, dun, dun,
the final list!