Payne Family Meal Planning

Posted by  | Sunday, September 21, 2008  at 11:54 PM  
This week's topic is Meal Planning. We shared recipe ideas a few weeks back, but thought it would be a good idea to look at how we plan out our meals and share ideas. There is such a variety in how meal planning can be done - please feel free to share how you manage in your home. Here's how we manage in ours...

In an effort to save money, I committed our family to a fixed menu. This way I know what to buy when I go to the store and I know what deals to look for. I've found myself standing in the meat dept so many times going "okay, what can I make with this misc. beef that is only $1.97/lb?". With a fixed menu, I stick to what we need and I can track what I pay for items so I know when something is a good deal. We have seven breakfasts that we eat:
1. pancakes
2. toast & eggs
3. pancakes & eggs
4. omelets
5. french toast
6. cereal
7. eggs & sausage
My ingredients for these breakfasts are: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk, oil, stale bread, cereal and sausage. I used to buy toaster waffles b/c they are convenient, but I've found that making pancakes and french toast from scratch is really pretty simple and VERY cheap. Very cheap. Sometimes I might make a double patch, cook up all the pancakes, and then freeze the extras to use as "homemade toaster pancakes".
We also have five lunches that we eat. I only have five b/c I repeat one (pb&j usually) and then we eat Sunday lunch with our church family each week. Those lunches are:
1. lunchmeat sandwiches
2. pb&j
3. mac & cheese
4. hot dogs
5. leftovers
I have 14 dinners that make. We eat 7 one week and 7 the next. I have more here so it doesn't feel too much like we're eating the same thing all the time. My 14 dinners are:
1. Pot Roast (w/ bread)
2. Crockpot Italian Chicken (w/ rice)(thanks Hollie!)
3. Individual Meatloaves
4. Tacos (w/ chips & guac)
5. Lasagna (w/ bread & salad)
6. Pork Loin Chops (w/ stuffing)
7. Breaded Pork Chops
8. Grilled Chicken Breasts (w/ rice)
9. Pasta & Sausage (w/ bread & salad)
10. Taco Soup (w/ rolls)
11. Hamburgers (w/ home fries)
12. Southwest Chicken (w/ rice)(thanks Jessica!)
13. Chicken Enchiladas
14. Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwiches
This means that I'm always looking for roast, chicken, ground beef, ground sausage, and pork loins to be on sale. I also make hamburgers and chicken cordon bleu sandwiches the same week so I can use up all the buns. I also decided ahead of time what sides I would have with each so I don't have to think about it when it comes time to shop or time to make dinner.
I also have a stock of snack items. They include:
1. goldfish crackers
2. peanut butter
3. cereal bars (I'm working on phasing these out w/ a homemade alternative - any suggestions?)
4. nuts
5. cheese
Finally, we have a fruit with breakfast and a fruit and vegetable with lunch and with dinner. I know that I have to buy enough servings of fruit and vegetables to get us through the week - this is always the biggest portion of our grocery bill. I usually go to the local discount grocery store to purchase these b/c it is so much cheaper than my chain grocer.
Let me know if this is helpful at all or if you'd like any clarification. Thanks for reading!


Terra Jones said...

I like this idea and may have to switch our "plan!"

Pre-second baby (since's been a 5 week free-for all...bad, bad bad!) I had a schedule that looks something like this: on sundays, I made crock pot meals, mondays were "italian", tuesdays - grill out (then we moved and aren't allowed to have a grill), wednesdays - leftovers, etc...

So each week, I knew Sunday would be a crock pot meal.

I like the idea of 14 dinners, 5 lunches, and 7 breakfasts...

Question - do you rotate or is every Monday chicken cordon bleu sandwiches (which I TOTALLY want the recipe for!!!!)?

Now I'm hungry!

Andrea and Grant said...

When I saw that you wanted a homemade recipe for cereal bars, I instantly thought of this Sara Snow recipe (haven't actually tried it yet, but I saw her make it on TV and it looked delicious).

Here is the recipe link:

Enjoy the blog very much!

Andrea and Grant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrea and Grant said...

(Not sure why the whole link didn't appear in my earlier post.

Hollie said...

Okay Leah,
You rock the house on organizational skills! Go girl go!

marymstraits said...

If this is too personal, don't worry about answering it. How much is your weekly grocery bill? We are trying to cut back and are couponing more to save . . .


Mark'sMeg said...

Leah, I'm totally intrigued by your system! I have a list of about 40 recipes that I choose my dinners from each week (my husband is kinda picky and likes a lot of variety :) But I think it would save a lot of money if I confined myself to a smaller list :) I almost always double the recipe so I can freeze half and not have to cook and make tons of dishes several nights a week. I never plan lunches because we always eat leftovers from the night before or some type of sandwhich. Could you please post the recipe that you use for Taco Soup and for Southwest chicken and rice? They sound yummy and not like anything in my collection. :) THanks!
Meagan DeLong

Kara Hazen said...

Thanks for posting this. It really gives me something to look at and modify for our family.

Krista said...

I would love to see your list of 40 you choose from - would you mind posting your list?!

ChezDeshotels said...

I would so love to see the list of 40 I have a list like that is well but I divide mine into a spread sheet of sides, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I then choose from those each week except I am defintely goingto change my lunch and breakfast plans. Thanks so much Leah for the great plan.


noahandlylasmommi said...

that is neat. thanks for sharing.

Leah said...

I don't necessarily have the same thing each day. I have all 14 meals written on index cards and each week I pick out seven and put them on the menu. We have a crockpot meal each Thursday b/c I babysit that day and don't have a lot of time.

DON'T compare your grocery bill to mine! :) We live in Chicago where things are WAY more expensive than in NC. My weekly bill is about $100 - that is with store sales but no coupons. I'm working on adding coupon shopping into my life to hopefully lower our bills. The problem is that the bulk of our shopping is fruits/veggies and meat.

I'm going to make a separate post of the three recipes requested.

Thanks for reading gals!

Kris Coffee said...

I've got a tasty and easy recipe for homemade granola that might be a good replacement for your cereal bars. Steve loves it as a cereal for breakfast with raisins and bananas on top (it takes him a little further than the "fluffy" cereals from the grocery store). You can also serve it dry for Samuel or over yogurt (or ice cream for dessert).
I'll email you the recipe.

I actually get my discounted meats first and then decide what I will cook for the week. These days if I can find a pound of meat for $1.89 I jump at it and find a recipe on that uses that meat (if it's too obscure). Usually I can find chicken, italian sausage, ribs, Lowes Foods first thing Monday morning at a very discounted price. Then I pull out my recipes and use those meats in that week's menus. I probably have 50-60 recipes that I rotate. My sis-in-law gave me a notebook of recipes that were her family's favorite meals. It was the perfect gift and has added so much to my dinner repetoire!
Enough for now. Sorry for going on and on. Love ya.

Keith said...

Great system Leah! Our system is similar. We have 7 breakfasts that we have on the same days each week. Lunches are sandwiches and fruit (and salads for Keith). For suppers, I accumulated a 2 month menu plan by just saving my weekly plans for 2 months. From time to time I add another meal to it so it won't get boring. The supper plan is saved on my computer, with cookbook pages included.

Something fun that we've just started in the last few months was to have a special, EASY Sunday lunch. We have a Mediterranean feast, which is all cold, so quickly made from the fridge to the table! It's always some good cheese, bread, fruit, and olives. Sometimes I also make hummus or boiled/deviled eggs. We get out the goblets and enjoy! We love to treat guests to this unusual meal, which makes it easy to preserve the rest we need on Sunday but still enjoy company.

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