|Gorgeous logo by Vin Vogel
My goals in preparing this list were simple: save-time, eat decent food, avoid dinner-time stress. These recipes are not gluten-free, vegan, Kosher, or paleo. I do not claim they are the most economical or labor-free. Nor are these 30 meals, strictly-speaking, the healthiest choices for your family. But anything is better than a steady diet of fast-food, right? The plan was to prep food a little at a time in October, and to minimize the prep time in November.
How to Use This Menu
Option 2, Strapped for time? Browse the list of meals, replace select recipes with frozen entrees, take-out, subs, or the occasional pizza. Be sure to adjust the shopping lists as well.
Option 3, Use the planning calendar for the first two weeks of the month. Repeat to complete your list of 30 meals.
Option 4, If after following the meal plan and churning out dozens of new picture book ideas daily, you find yourself with time on your hands, double up on the ingredients for freezer meals. Prep an additional meal, label, and freeze. Now you have extra meals for those busy days in December!
The first shopping list will be posted on Saturday and the first prep list on Tuesday. That should allow everyone to schedule prep time into their week.
What You'll Need
These recipes assume you have basic kitchen equipment, a slow cooker (mine is 7 Qt, but 5 Qt will probably work), Ziplock freezer bags, aluminum foil, a Sharpie, and some freezer space. Disposable foil pans can come in handy, too.
In addition, you'll need the following pantry staples:
butter or margarine
basic spices, salt, and pepper
condiments like mustard or relish
salad dressing including vinaigrette
Worcestershire sauce (You can substitute if need be. A1 steak sauce or soy sauce and a little molasses will do.)
gravy is optional
You also may want to keep a box of corn dogs, some pasta and sauce, or a few frozen entrees around just in case things go awry.
There are ways to shave even more precious minutes off your meal-time efforts, including buying more frozen and pre-made ingredients. I have not listed those here, because I cook from scratch whenever possible. The most notable exception in the monthly menu is the use of frozen meatballs on Day 7. These can easily be made ahead of time and frozen instead if you like.
I make it a point to shop the local farmer's market on Tuesdays. The majority of my regular shopping is done at Aldi, and once a month I try to visit a discount food warehouse. I have chosen the November recipes with this in mind. The cost to follow this menu should be moderate. Especially when compared to the cost of eating out several days a week.
Also it should be noted we have raised our children to eat almost anything. Many of you have picky-eaters at home. Next week I'll be posting strategies to overcome Food Neophobia.
|You should be able to view a downloadable calendar here.
Visit my Writer's Menu 2014 Pinterest board for links to some of the recipes for this month if you want a sneak peek.
Here's a website to help you locate a farmer's market in your neighborhood.
If you live in the Eastern half of the United States or in Southern California, there might be an Aldi grocery store near you.
I am not a professional chef. I relied on many talented internet cooks and organizers including OnceaAMonthMeals, SixSistersStuff, and StockPilingMoms.
If you are interested in making meal planning a habit, I highly recommend the Don't Panic, Dinner's In The Freezer books from The Baker Publishing Group. Also check out the tips for beginners complete with free printables on MoneySavingMom
Please feel free to contact me with questions anytime. Email Joanne, BookishAmbition@gmail.com.
I regret I won't be able to customize a meal plan for your family (at least not this year), but I will do my best to make this resource both practical and usable.