I'm back on both meal planning and stocking my freezer:
Also, not for nothing, this helps with dieting. If I have everything ready to go we don't end up going out to eat on a night when the shit hits the fan. When you are aiming for 1200, going out to eat (while not technically impossible) is setting yourself up to mess up (or at least it is for me). Once you've figured out the calories in these meals you do not need to ever do it again!!! That alone almost makes it worth it.
I have made a couple of changes to help streamline the meal planning process. A lot of people already do this, but I always felt pressure to think of a new menu every week... not anymore. I have a one week menu & that baby is going to pretty much be on repeat (pending some kind of sale ridiculous sale at the store) until the seasons change. There is wiggle room within the plan, and I can certainly switch days around... but for the most part I've settled on well balanced meals that EVERY single family member truly enjoys. They are all meals that can be doubled or tripled, which means that I don't have to start from scratch EVERY week. This is going to be very helpful come next week when Kid's basketball season starts and we aren't home until 6 PM, 3 nights a week and then we start the with the homework!
Basically we are at this menu:
Monday - Chili with brown rice & cornbread
Tuesday - Chicken turnovers (or chicken & noodles) with spinach salad
Wednesday - Spaghetti & meatballs with sauteed broccoli
Thursday - BBQ pulled chicken sandwiches with coleslaw
Friday - Taco night
Saturday - Soup (Potato Leek or Chicken Noodle) with spinach salad and rolls
Sunday - leftovers; & I cook a big batch off Pesto pasta to pack for school lunches.
Chili is an easy doubled recipe (heck next time I could quadruple it). Chicken turnovers can be doubled, chicken & noodles or chicken & veg stirfry, etc aren't doubled but all start with shredded poached chicken. I buy chicken breasts when they are on sale and poach them, shred and bag them in 2 cup portions in my freezer. Turns all of the chicken meals into a 20 minute meal. The turnovers take a some planning but are about 15 minutes of prep and 20 minutes in the oven. The meatballs are easily made in huge batches. I brown them and then freeze. To cook, I cover them with sauce & bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 while I boil the water for the pasta & saute the broccoli. BBQ chicken is a crockpot meal which easily makes 3 meals (using 12 chicken thighs). I fix the coleslaw while I'm loading the crockpot & all I have to do is shred it when I get home. I make 2 nights worth of taco filling (ground meat & beans), one for that night & one for the freezer. The soups, obviously, make around 3 meals and I make 24 rolls at a time which lasts for 3 meals as well. All I need to do is buy our fresh produce & whatever is needed to keep the batch cooking rolling. If I have time I add to the stockpile rather than deplete it. I don't want to get stuck on a busy week needed to make the meatballs, for example. I'd much rather make another big batch and keep building up my reserves.