Tanner came home from deployment last October. Before he came home, I only had to worry about what I would have for dinner. I only made meals for myself so I didn't have to take anyone else's opinion into account. When Tanner first came home, I was always asking him each night what he wanted for dinner the next night. He'd look at me like I was crazy since we had JUST eaten. The reason I asked a whole day early was because if he wanted chicken for example, I needed to set it out to defrost the night before.
Eventually, I realized that method just wouldn't work for us. Tanner would get frustrated with me asking that question all the time, and I would get frustrated not having a plan. So I came up with a solution: I would plan all of our dinners out a month at a time. I've been doing that for almost a year now and it's wonderful. Here's what I do:
First, I print out a calendar, for the month, usually just a cute simple one that I find online. Then, I go through Pinterest and Google to find recipes that Tanner and I would enjoy. I don't usually put meals on the weekends because we're so busy that we usually just grab something while we're out, or we find something easy to make at home. That leaves me with only planning for 5 days a week (20 days in a 4 week month). Typically, I don't pick a new recipe out to try every single night of the week. That would just be insane and I'm not the best at cooking so it takes a lot for me to actually cook a complicated recipe! Here's what a normal week looks like:
Monday: I make a recipe that's a casserole. I only cook for 2 of us but Tanner loves when I cook a casserole so he can have leftovers to take to work.
Tuesday: I use any recipe I can find. It doesn't have to have leftovers so it can really be anything.
Wednesday: This night I make my "easy night" when it comes to cooking. For the month of September, I put down that we'd have protein shakes. Usually its something super easy and an "on your own" kind of night.
Thursday: I like to pick crock pot recipes because they're so easy and by the end of the week, I don't especially feel like doing some complicated recipe.
Friday: We buy a big pack of turkey burgers from Costco, so on Friday's I usually put something like Turkey Burgers on the menu. In the past we've also bought frozen tilapia and salmon, so we'll incorporate that in on Fridays :)
For those of you that enjoy finding new meals to make, here's a few of our favorite recipes! Please note that these recipes are not my own. They are just ones that I've tried and highly recommend.
Crispy Mongolian Beef - This one we usually add rice to have add with it. This is one of my husbands favorites!
Chicken Thighs with Cilantro Black Bean Rice I just recently tried this one and we loved the cilantro black bean rice. In the future, I would use chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs but that's just personal preference.
Crispy Coconut Chicken with Spicy Honey Orange Sauce- I especially loved this one. Tanner isn't a fan of spicy foods so I didn't make the honey orange sauce spicy (I eliminated the red pepper flakes).
One Pot Chicken Quinoa Mushrooms Spinach- This is a favorite recipe of ours. I've made it multiple times and we usually end up doubling the recipe so that we can have plenty of leftovers! Just make sure you use an extra large pan if you also decide to double it. For this one, I don't use chicken thighs, I use chicken breasts so that there's more protein!
Cheesy Kielbasa Rice Broccoli Skillet - I got tired of having chicken all of the time, so I came across this recipe. It's very easy to make and a nice change.
Crockpot BBQ Chicken - This is one of my favorite crockpot dishes. There's hardly any ingredients at all and it just has to be thrown into the slow cooker! We usually like to have the BBQ chicken with rolls or on buns.
Chicken Enchilada Rice Casserole- This is Tanner's favorite meal that I have made! The only thing I change is instead of refried beans, I use black beans. I recommend trying it both ways and seeing which way your family likes the best! It's so simple and gives us plenty of leftovers!
Those are just a few of the recipes that we enjoy! Try one out, let me know how it goes!
How do you meal plan? Do you have any recipes that you'd like to share?