The most hated word in my life are “What do you want for dinner? ” I have been cooking all my life and I hate deciding what to make for dinner. No one wants to give you any ideas what they would like or what they don’t want. I can ask my husband what he wants for dinner and he just say whatever you want to make. Now that is some great help, NOT! So now I just make what I want, well not really. We get in a pattern of making the same recipes over and over again and it gets old and boring. Since it is just my hubby and I now for meals it is a little easier but still you need to make a decision.
We are living now on a fixed budget so I usually grocery shop once a month with a large order and then just random stops for occasional things. Meal planning on a monthly budget is a must. So now I figure out basically, how many meals I would need to prepare in that month. That is the first step. Take out date nights, evenings with friends, picnics, holidays, etc. I cook all my meals from scratch so planning is must. Lets take this month for example. There are 31 days in May, two holidays, Mothers Day and Memorial Day, four Friday date nights with hubby. That leaves 25 meals that I need to figure out what we are going to eat. Out of those 25 days maybe 3 or 4 will be left over or take out. So now we need at least 21 or 22 meals for the month.
If your like me, I stock pile meat from sales and mark downs at the grocery store so I don’t always have to buy all my meat at the same time. I still like to check out the meat department every time I go to the store for more bargains. I try to find the large packs of meat that can be portioned out for many meals. You will have a larger variety in your freezer if you do it your shopping this way.
Other parts of your meals you probably already have in your cupboard or you can add them to your monthly list. Most of us have a stock pile of vegetables, pasta, rice, etc already but there will always be things we need to pick up on our grocery visit.
Now comes the part that can either be a pain or fun. For all the meals you need to make for the month you figure out what meat you have and what meat you will need to add to that. You can adjust your menu planning to suit the meat your family prefers. We eat approximately 1/3 of our meals with ground beef or ground turkey or a combination of the two, so 8 meals. Then we have around 9 chicken meals. The rest is beef or pork based. So now that you know what meats you have to work with its time to start planning the actual meal.
One of my favorite things to do is scope out recipes on Pinterest. I use Pinterest almost everyday for a variety of things, recipes is just one. The nice thing about Pinterest is that you can search just chicken or chicken casserole or chicken and pasta. The choices are crazy. I use my crock-pot a lot and there are so many crock-pot recipes on Pinterest I may never run out of choices.
Now just take your time and search away to find new recipes or use your tried and true recipes and put them in your meal plan. You know what you want to use for meat so just go to town on all kinds of recipes. Below is an example of what my monthly menu looks like,
- Tatertot casserole with bbq
- Grilled chicken with quinoa
- Ham and fried potatoes
- Taco’s with Rice and black beans
- Spaghetti with salad
- Pork Chops and baked potatoes
- Meatloaf and mashed potatoes
- Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots
- BBQ Chicken with gluten free mac and cheese
- Sausage with peppers and onion and baked fries
- chicken enchiladas with rice
- chicken stir fry with rice
- Breakfast for dinner, eggs, home fries, bacon
- Buffalo chicken pasta
- Corn flake coated chicken with Roasted potatoes
- Pork tenderloin with honey mustard dressing and fried rice
- burgers and oven baked fries
- sausage and cabbage
- Meatballs with Penna pasta
- Pork medallions with quinoa
- Dressed up Nachos with taco meat
As you can see we do eat gluten free because I have Celiac disease. My hubby still eat regular bread and things but our meals are gluten free for the most part. I add a side to all these meals either a vegetable or salad for a more balanced meal but for the most part this is how I start out my month.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t say ” Now on May 8th we are having Buffalo chicken pasta”. I use this only as a menu for the entire month. This way I can make sure I have all the things on hand to make all of these dishes but if I don’t feel like chicken tonight I have many other options to choose from.
You plan your meals to suit your families style of eating and choices. My hubby doesn’t like seafood so you won’t see that on our menu. Once in awhile I can sneak in some shrimp or crab but that doesn’t happen often. We are trying to cut down on starch so I do replace some potato dishes with quinoa.
I hope this helps you get a better grip on what to make for dinner. Or at least make those words not so hard to take.