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Week 3: What’s for Dinner?

Journey with me through a year of finding the joy in our lives, traveling the pathway to H.O.P.E. – Harmony, Order, Prosperity and Excellence! Let’s commit to charting our course over the days of the week, navigating our way from chaos to clarity – one step, one decision, one action at a time!   

“A recipe has no soul. You as the cook, must bring the soul to the food.”

Thomas Keller

1. TUESDAY – The Basic Weekly Meal Plan (BWMP)

If you’re asking yourself what’s for dinner at 4:00pm, chances are good it’s Take Out! 

We eat at least 3 times a day 7 days a week; that’s 1092 times a year. We know what we’re eating for dinner on December 25th a year in advance, but for the other 1091 meals of the year, it can be a real toss up! 

When you’re super busy all day long it’s hard to come up with a dinner plan at the last minute, not to mention the issue of having all the ingredients on hand!  Figuring out our meal plan on the fly can be very stressful, expensive and often unhealthy.  

So, let’s start with a Basic Weekly Meal Plan (BWMP) to help relieve some of that stress. A BWMP is not set in stone. If you planned to make a stir fry with the leftover roast beef on Tuesday night but it just doesn’t appeal to you (or anyone else in the family) and you have the ingredients for a different meal on hand, then go ahead and change it up. The BWMP is a plan – not a demand! 

Download & print a Monthly Meal Planning Chart to pencil in your rough draft. If a whole month is too much to tackle, start with 1 week. My brain froze the first time I tried to plan for a month because I was trying to think of specific meals for each night. Then I geared it back and started with a basic plan of Poultry Monday, Fish Tuesday, Red Meat Wednesday, Pork Friday, Take Out Friday, Burger Saturday and Fancy Sunday Night Dinner (clearly my family are carnivores). From there I started filling in the options in each of those categories. On Poultry Monday, if I forgot to take the chicken breasts out of the freezer before I left for work that morning, then dinner that night got flipped to picking up a Rotisserie Chicken on the way home and serving it with a side of brown & wild rice and a hearty salad or steamed broccoli. If you are Vegetarian or Vegan, of course you’ll have different selections on your weekly plan! 

Sometimes I would get stuck on repeat with recipes, making chicken or beef the same way every week. So boring! Then I’d watch a cooking show or flip through a magazine, and I’d get inspired again. One day I sat down and wrote out all the meals that my family loved. And because I love spreadsheets, I made a Meal Selection Chart with all the categories: Beef, Poultry, Seafood, Pork, Vegetarian, Quick Fixes, Salads, Fast Breakfasts, Eggs, Soups, Sandwiches and even Categories of Healthy Snacks, Desserts, Cookies, Muffins, Appetizers, Hot Beverages and Cold Beverages.  I printed the chart and taped it to the inside of a kitchen cupboard, so when I went completely blank on what the heck to do with my 2 pounds of ground beef, I had options to inspire me! 

2. WEDNESDAYThe Grocery List 

Create your shopping list. Big surprise – I made a Shopping List in Excel with food categories: Canned Goods, Dry Goods, Fruit, Vegetables, Cleaning Products, Paper/Plastic Goods, Frozen Goods, Deli & Meats, Pharmacy etc. Then I typed in the items that we used regularly. For example, under Dry Goods I listed Cereal, Flour, Sugar, Bread/Buns, Crackers, Rice, Pasta, Coffee, Tea, Nuts, Dried Fruits etc. I printed a list every week and clipped it to the fridge and asked everyone in the house to highlight items as they used them up. This saved me a lot of time when it came to creating a Grocery List every week!

3. THURSDAY – Shop, Wash & Chop

Pick a day for someone in the house to do the weekly grocery shop; or take advantage of the Shop Online programs that some stores offer. When you get home don’t stash everything in the fridge as it is. Wash the fruit, leaving some out in a bowl on the counter and storing the rest in the fridge for later. Cut up the fruits that require extra work like cantaloupe etc. If I bought a melon and stashed it in the fridge it would rot, but as soon as I cut it up and put the chunks a storage container it would get gobbled up the same day! Same with the veggies. Remove the leaves off the cauliflower; cut into pieces and store in a container. You’ll be much more likely to grab a few chunks to add into a stir fry or steamed veggie dish if you don’t have to wrestle with the bulky leaves first. A little more work up front, but a real time saver through the week. Also, you’re less likely to throw out rotten produce.  Again, if you have tweens, teens or life partner, share the task with them! 

4. FRIDAY to MONDAY – Continue to work your Basic Weekly Meal Plan, finding little ways to save time & effort, like cooking a big batch of Stew for dinner that night and freezing 2 containers for later in the month.

5. GRATITUDE SUNDAY – If you have food in your fridge and cupboards, please take a moment to acknowledge this and be grateful. There are so many people in this world who do not have enough to eat; Parents who put their children to bed with empty tummies and worry how they’ll survive. If you have enough, then please know that you are blessed; and if you have more than enough, then please consider sharing your blessing with others who are in need. Our local Food Bank does a wonderful job of helping people in need and would gratefully welcome your donations!   

6. TUESDAY, next week – Meet me here next Tuesday to continue our journey! 

H.O.P.E. is on the horizon my fellow Pathways Travellers – one step, one decision, one action at a time!  

Coming Soon! Watch for my weekly radio show on The Rogue, CFTR, to hear my guest panel share their own home management challenges, tips and tricks! 

About the author

Karen McKee

Karen McKee

Journey with me through a year of finding the joy in our lives, traveling the pathway to H.O.P.E. - Harmony, Order, Prosperity and Excellence! Let’s commit to charting our course over the days of the week, navigating our way from chaos to clarity - one step, one decision, one action at a time!

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