How many times have you faced an empty pot with an empty brain at the end of a long day at school? My kids could tell you they ate a lot of goulash, tuna salad and take-out during my teaching years because my brain couldn’t seem to come up with a variety of meals each evening, much less a home-cooked one.
I created this easy meal-planning kit using a simple pocket chart to display the main meal of the day, which is usually the evening meal. The cards do the thinking for you, and the ingredients included on the cards gives you a simple way to create your grocery list. You can plan meals for a week or up to fourteen days, depending on the size of your pocket chart.
Meal planning saves you money when you cook at home versus buying take-out meals. Meal planning also saves you valuable time by reducing the number of trips to the grocery store. I used to go to the store every few days, but I’ve cut my grocery shopping down to two or three times a month now. And that’s simply from organizing and planning our meals.
The kit contains:
• Seven color-coded sheets (105 cards) of main dishes and starch/carbohydrate side dishes and vegetable side dishes.
• Basic pantry staples list
• Blank templates for additional cards
• Template for a one-meal card
• Days of the week & reminder cards
• An organized grocery list template
• A personalized cover design, recipe page template, and meal planner sheet for a custom recipe notebook that coordinates with the dishes listed on the pocket cards
• Tips for stretching the groceries and time between visits to the store
• Links to good recipe sites
• Photos of how the pocket chart is used
The chart can be as detailed or as simple as you choose. The file is a Word doc so everything can be modified to fit your family. You don’t have to switch out every card on the pocket chart every week or two if they’re dishes your family likes to eat regularly.
Spending a little time on meal planning every week or two can help you avoid the frustration of coming up with a home-cooked meal at the last minute and hoping you have everything to do it. Using the pocket chart system, the meal is already planned, the groceries are already on hand, and you just do it. It feels so good to finally have regular home-cooked meals. And your budget will feel the difference, too!
Donna Van Cleve