I don't know about you, but deciding on dinners somehow always turns into an argument. If, in the Brazil home, we don't have our meals all planned out for the week, by the time 5 o'clock rolls around, I'm frantic trying to figure out dinner plans, Miles is hungry and on his way home, and we usually end up just going out instead. I know. Really frugal of us.
However, I have made a slight change to the way things work by taking some time at the end of each month to prep for the next month. I sit down with Pinterest popped open, my cookbooks sprawled across the floor, and a monthly planner front and center and figure out what we will eat for dinner each night, for the entire next month.
Not only does this keep us from dining out for the sole purpose of convenience out of the picture, but it is hardly stressful and entirely fun. I promise that it's way less daunting than you'd think, and once you've chosen it, grocery lists are way easier to put together and you'll actually be excited to stick to it!
1. Know your schedule. Monday nights are busy for Miles and I so I only plan meals that are either super fast to make or that can be prepped earlier in the day and cooked while he's on his way home. Consider these things when creating your plan.
2. Know your favorites. Start with meals that are familiar to you and your family. Choose dinners that are already favorites and add them into your calendar in different weeks and days.
3. Variety is key. When you can see a whole month at a time, it's easy to know if you're eating the same things over and over. If we had tacos and enchiladas in one week, I might do some swapping around with other meals so that flavors are different. I also like to change up our proteins. By eating chicken one night, ground beef another, ground turkey the next, and maybe steaks after that, we get lots of different options and dinner never feels repetitive.
4. Fill in the blanks! This is the fun part! After you fill in all of your busy-night-meals, date-night-outs, and tried-and-true-favorites, you switch gears to your cookbooks and pinterest boards and browse meals that look delicious but you've been putting off and you commit! One fun thing that Miles and I plan on doing after baby comes and we aren't able to initially get out as much is pick a night of the week that acts as date night and then choose four (or so, depending on the number of weeks per month) fancy meals from our cookbooks and take the night to create them together, with all the garnishes and fancy sauces and everything. Way fun, right?