Friday, September 6, 2013

How to Plan Dinners for Your Family, The Happy Housewife Life Way!

Planning dinners for my family is very easy and it can be easy for your family too! Here is how you can plan dinners, almost effortlessly, the Happy Housewife Life Way, LOL!
  1. When you make a dish, and it is well received by all, keep that recipe in a favorites folder. Once you have gathered a minimum of 25 recipes, you could easily assign each recipe, once a month, with one day each week for left overs. Even things that are not really recipes, such as a favorite brand frozen pizza can be jotted down on a sheet of paper and added to the file- I'll explain why in a few, just keep reading!
  2. Planning is a cinch, as is shopping, since you already know what items your recipes call for, so when you see them on sale, stock up! The more supplies you have on hand, the easier it is to make dinner on the fly without having to make an emergency run to the supermarket, and the more it will save your family financially in the long run. B.O.G.O sales and coupons are your best friends!
  3.  After a while you could even start throwing in a "New Recipe Day" each week, in which you introduce a new recipe you have found, to your family. If it meets the approval, then it too can be added to the Favorites File. It will give you even more variety. 
  4. When making your recipes, see how many of them you could double or even triple and then freeze. Then all you have to do it thaw, heat and eat! 
  5. Here is how I physically plan out my meals. I use Post-It Page Markers on my planner pages to assign what meals I will make on which day. Using the recipes and even the 'non-recipes' in your Family Favorites folder, write the name of the dish on each Post-It Page Marker.
If you want to get really organized, you could even color code your dishes, as I have done. I use the pink page markers for beef, yellow for poultry, orange for pork, blue for seafood, and green for miscellaneous recipes. On my green page markers, I even have some labeled "Left Overs", " Eat Out", " Date Night"  etc. for those nights where I don't really have a specific meal planned per se, but have a proposed solution to the 'What's for Dinner?' dilemma. I even write the meals I would plan to prepare on these page markers, so that I can fit them into my planner. For example, I don't really have to do much cooking when it comes to frozen pizza, but I will put a green " Frozen Pizza" page marker on my planner so I know exactly what my family will be having. My local grocery store sells these delicious frozen Cordon Blue stuffed chicken breast that my family loves- they are labelled on my page markers and used in my planner, just as if I were to do the actually preparation of them myself.

Plans change? No worries!
One of the most wonderful things about using Post-It Page Markers to plan your meals, is that they are re-arrangeable and reusable. Family get a last minute dinner invitation even though you already had something planned for dinner? No worries! Just move your page marker to a different date. Kid's practice run over and you plan on grabbing something on the way home? No problem, just move that night's meal plan to the following day. Face it, even the most well thought out plan flops sometimes. Life happens. Its nice to be able to say you are able to stick to a plan, even if the plan doesn't stick with you.

Menu items all available at a glance. The empty spaces are all the meals that are already on my planner!
 In my planner, I keep one of those 9 pocket trading card pages. I put slips of paper in each pocket and then store all my unused menu items on the papers. I can quickly scan over the whole sheet and see all my menu ideas and pick and choose which ones to plan for the week. The page is added to my planner (which is a three ring binder). Recipes are kept on index cards in my kitchen, but also are typed out and stored inside plastic sheet protectors in my planner for reference while I am making my shopping lists.

Don't use a planner? You can still achieve the same results with a large desk pad calendar and regular sized Post-It notes. Or a bulletin board. As long as you have your Family Favorites recipes and a way to move around the menu items, you will have a easy solution to planning dinners for your family!

NOTE: Like the sound of some of the menu items you see here? I will be adding them to this blog as quickly as I can and the link will be saved under the Laufer Family Favorites Recipe Link List. 

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