Extreme Meal Planning: My 60 Day Meal Rotation Idea
As our family is preparing to move and get back into a single family routine, the first thing I wanted to do was to get back onto a meal schedule. In the past, I’ve planned meals 1-2 weeks at a time. However, now that I have a kid, our own house (hopefully :) ), and a week full of activities, I decided 1-2 weeks was not good enough. I am going to develop a 60 day meal rotation!
My goals for this are quite simple. First, I don’t want to have to think about what to make for dinner. If I know ahead of time it makes planning my days much easier. Second, it will allow me to have weekly grocery lists ready to go in advance which will, hopefully, help me to have more efficient shopping trips. Third, I want to be able to spend as much time as possible with my family. By cutting out the weekly planning and trying to figure out what we have in the house, I hope to be able to extend the time we have together. Finally, by having and knowing our meal plan I will be able to better stick to our food budget. As long as I know what I’m buying, I usually do a much better job of staying within the confines of our budgetary limits then when I’m planning as I walk through the store.
So, now that you know the WHY of my meal schedule, lets get down to the goals of what it needs to be.
- 9 Weeks of Planned Meals. Okay, so that is actually 63 days, not 60. But that gives me 2 solid months of predetermined meals.
- Must Be Flexible. We all know that sometimes you have unexpected guests for dinner, or your evening plans change without notice. I want to be able to incorporate flexibility so that I’m not feeling stressed out if I don’t stick exactly to the plan.
- No repeats. Since I plan on repeating the entire 9 week plan throughout the year, I want to make sure that within the 9 weeks, I’m not repeating meals. Now, some minor repetition may be necessary (chicken wraps week 2, steak wraps week 6, etc.) but I don’t want my family getting tired of the same old meals and would like to try to incorporate as much variety as possible.
- Pre-Cooking Mass Quantity Meats. I love having a freezer full of pre-cooked chicken, turkey (ground and not) and ground beef separated into meal sized portions. This makes my mealtime cooking go so much faster. When a meal calls for ground beef, I just pull it out of the freezer in the morning and it is thawed and ready to go by the time I’m ready to start cooking. In order to have these things throughout the month(s), I would like to use the first several weeks of the cycle to cook these meats. For Example: Week 1, Day 1 we will have Roasted Chicken; Week 2, Day 1 will use something with ground beef, etc. On those days I will actually cook large quantities of chicken, beef, or turkey (say 10 to 15 lbs ground meat, two whole chickens, 1 large turkey, etc.). I will take some out to use for that nights meal and portion what is not used into freezer bags and toss them into the freezer for future meal use.
- Incorporating Freezer Meals. This kinda goes against my “No Repeats” rule, but it works in favor of my “Flexibility” rule. Some of the meals I plan will make enough for 2 meals. I want to be able to have these on hand in the freezer for sick days, unexpected guests, etc. We all know we can’t cook EVERY night :) It’s nice to have pre-made backups just in case.
- Health Conscious and Kid-Friendly. We are really trying to work on staying away from the easy-yet-unhealthy meal options. Our budget does not allow for all fresh produce and meats, but I still want to make sure that most of these meals are figure friendly. I also want them to be things my kid will enjoy eating. I’m working on training her not to be picky with her foods, so I want to be sure to provide something each meal that I know she will like. Hopefully, in the long run, this will make mealtimes enjoyable and develop in her a healthy attitude towards food.
- Simple Sides. For each meal I’m basically planning on utilizing veggies and fruits as a side dish. Other things may come into play, such as rice or the occasional dinner roll, but this will hopefully keep the meals healthy and filling no matter what the main dish is.
Those are my goals for this meal rotation. I’m working on putting the list together right now. I’m almost done, and once I get it finished I’ll post for all to see!
How do you plan meals for your family? What works best for you? What are some of your family favorites?