What's for dinner?

Menu planning is an essential for me if I want a stress-free week! In my very first blog post, I talked about how the purchasing my Thermomix had helped me to love cooking dinners. Menu planning has also helped me love what can be a tiring, monotonous task! 

I usually sit down on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and plan my dinners for the week. I look at what meat is in the freezer, or what veggies need to be used. I also have a list of dinners Brendan and I love to eat. Sometimes I just pick a week from my list of dinners (click on the link above to find my menu planning sheet), and other times I make up a new list. I then write out all the ingredients I need to make the dinners, and what sides (e.g. veggies) I will have with each meals. I make a shopping list in the phone in the order of the aisles in the supermarket - saves so much time when shopping!

On the menu this week is: 

Sunday - Rissoles with sweet potato mash, peas, beans & snow peas (made in the thermomix and can be prepared ahead of time). I used my Mum's old tupperware hamburger maker to make perfect sized rissoles. Next time I make these I will add some 'grillmaster' from YIAH to my meat - it is amazing! 

Monday - Chicken cashew with extra veggies thrown in (capsicum, snow peas, carrots) and rice (thermomix or slow cooker) 

Tuesday - Zucchini slice with carrots, beans, snow peas and corn (thermomix)

Wednesday - Sweet and sour pork stirfry with noodles and lots of veggies (sweet and sour sauce made from scratch in the thermomix) 

Thursday - Moroccan savoury mince with cous cous (recipe from Symply Too Good To Be True Cookbooks). I am planning to purchase the moroccan cous cous blend from YIAH to enhance this dish next time!

Friday - often we will go out for Thai/date night 

Saturday - Mini pizzas with various toppings (dough made in the thermomix) 

I don't have set meals for set nights, but I do try to follow this structure:

 - 1x vegetarian meal (or soup in winter)
 - 1-2x chicken meals
 - 1-2x mince (either beef, turkey, chicken, pork)
 - 1x beef
 - 1x other meat (pork, turkey etc.)
 - 1x easy 'treat' meal (e.g. mini pizzas or toasted sandwiches - usually on Saturdays or Sundays)

I also try not to have rice or mashed potato as a side more than once, and try to pack veggies into all meals. In summer I usually alternate veggies with salads. 

There are various ways to write up your meal plan - The Organised Housewife places a template behind a frame, and writes on the glass - see her range of printables here

I have used a few methods over the years. I created this canvas board with pegs from something I saw on Pinterest:

I printed out a menu planning printable from The Road to Loving My Thermomix, and laminated it. Even using whiteboard markers though, it was a little hard to wipe on and off. 

It is often just easier to use a store-bought weekly planner like this cute owl pad from Woolworths. 

Meal planning is beneficial for a few reasons: 

~ saves time at the supermarket
~ takes the hassle out of deciding what to have for dinner each night
~ you have the ingredients you need for each meal - no last minute rush to the supermarket at dinner time
~ you can plan a variety of meals
~ you can plan healthier meals
~ saves money - you aren't buying unnecessary items at the supermarket that may go off (and saves space in the pantry), and you can plan ahead, e.g. if I make a risotto one night, I can use the leftover risotto for arancini balls the next night, and therefore two nights of meals are pre-planned.  
~ helps remove the stress of the 'witching hour,' especially those with kids!
~ encourages the family to eat together - this isn't an issue for us yet, but if left to the last minute, you may end up chucking a meal together for the kids, and a separate meal later on for you and your husband/partner
~ you can make some items ahead of time (e.g. rissoles can be made in the morning, and then cooked at dinnertime)

Have I convinced you yet? Menu planning has honestly changed my life for the better! 

What's on the menu at your place this week? 

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