To give you some background, each weekend, I plan out our week by checking our calendar for commitments, planning meals accordingly and writing my grocery list. This planning, mostly including picking out seven dinner meals and making the grocery list, would take me at least an hour. I am all about planning ahead, but this was getting ridiculous. Most of my time would be spent mulling over my cookbooks and trying to think of a variety of meals to prepare. And this does not include breakfast or lunches. Thomas and I eat leftovers for lunch the next day, and the kids are consistent in their kid-food lunches.
We were visiting our Waco friends, and I noticed that she had a plan of 8 weeks of meals on her counter. I asked her about it, and she said she rotates the plan every 8 weeks to make her grocery list and cooks from it. At first, I thought that was a horrible idea, and I knew we would get so burnt out on the meals. The next time we visited them, I asked her more about it and let the idea sit for awhile. I decided to try my own version. This is what I do:
I planned out four dinner main dishes a week for 12 weeks. This way, I can rotate in seasonal foods, freezer meals I have prepared ahead (I did not include these in my rotation except for a few of our tried and true favorites), and give some room for any needs of the week (such as having people over or being out near dinnertime and needing to eat something really quick).
With these four meals, I attempted to rotate a chicken dish, beef dish, crockpot dish, and fish dish (though I don’t have that many, so we are a little short on those). I also rotated in some grilling meals and just one carb-heavier meal (like burgers, pasta, etc.) each week or less to spread that out. It was harder than I thought to find 48 meals that we liked, but I got all of them planned.
A month into this, I am loving it! It makes my meal plan go so quickly since I only need to find two or three meals to put into the plan rather than all seven. I can also move them around according to our commitments for that week.