Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Meal Planning

I have found that meal times come and go much smoother at our house when I have a meal plan. I don't really plan each breakfast and lunch but most certainly try to have a dinner meal plan in place.  If I don't have a plan, I feel lost and have to spend time each day thinking about what to make for dinner, what I need from the store, and in the end wind up eating out more.

Just an FYI: We use a wonderful budgeting program called "You Need A Budget" and try to budget $520 per month for our family of 7 (I am in the process of adjusting that number because it has not proven to be very realistic and most months I'm over that amount by a couple hundred dollars). 

Breakfasts, lunches, and snacks are not planned down to the day but I make sure that I have my pantry stock with ingredients/foods that will make sticking to the BFC diet easier. Quick and easy is key for me because, although I love to cook, I can't spend hours in the kitchen preparing each meal.  Sometimes I will make a nice breakfast and/or lunch but most days, dinner is the meal that I choose to put most of my time and energy into.  Keeping the following items in stock make it easy for me to whip up a BFC friendly breakfast, lunch or snack:

Lettuce & Spinach * Avocados * Celery * Veggies * Cream Cheese * A Variety of  Cheeses * Salsa * Eggs * Roasted Chicken Breast * Tuna * Salmon * Canned Crab * Tilapia * Almond Milk * Decaf Coffee * Heavy Whipping Cream * Coconut Oil * Almond Flour * Coconut Flour *
Nitrate Free Lunch Meat & Hot Dogs * Cashews * Sunflower Seeds * Macadamia Nuts * Walnuts * Almond Butter * Nature's Hollow Sugar-Free Preserves * Nature's Hollow Pancake Syrup *
85% Dark Chocolate * Clemmy's O's * * Corn Tortillas * English Muffins  * Sandwich Thins *
Pita Bread * Chia Seeds * Mayo * Mustard * Frozen Bags of Veggies * Flax Oil * Ground Flax Seed

When I sit down to plan dinners, I look at my calendar and see what we have going on for the next week.  If we have a busy night, most likely I will plan to make sandwiches and bring them along so we can eat while we are out.  After I see what we have going on, I ask the kids and my husband if there are any meals they would like. Occasionally they will have a request (like pasta dishes) but most often they are happy for me to cook whatever I want which makes sticking to the BFC diet a little easier. I do my meal planning on Wednesday or Thursday after the weekly store ads come out and then do my shopping on Friday or Saturday. If I see a great sale on chicken, fish, or pork, I will incorporate those into our menu.... and if it's an excellent price, I will stock up for future meals. We buy sides of beef from a local rancher so I don't typically have to buy any extra red meat. Once I have my meat/protien figured out, I will add a veggie or two and sometimes a salad.  Occasionally I will add a bread/roll for the rest of the family and I may, or may not, have any depending on how many sugars & carbs I have left for the day and if I plan on enjoying an evening snack (I have found that more often than not, we are not adding any bread to our evening meals and no one really seems to care or miss it). I don't really use coupons that often because they are usually on items I should not purchase anyways (like high-carb and processed foods). I do use coupons for almond milk, eggs, salad mix, cheese, and toiletries and a few other items.

Once I have our meal plan figured out I write it down and put it on the fridge so everyone knows what we'll be eating.  Many days, we just don't feel like having what's on the plan so we shift days around  A plan is a great guideline for our family but so is flexibility and being able to deviate from it when needed.  So that's it in a nutshell and even though I'm still trying to figure out a better amount to budget for our family, I feel that we eat healthier, spend way less and make less trips to to the store when we make a meal plan.

Here's a photo of what I ate for lunch yesterday:

1 Engish Muffin
On one half I had 1 Tbsp almond butter & 1 Tbsp Nature's Hollow preserves
On the other half I had Italian Salami, pepper jack cheese, & an egg
Spinach & 1 Tbsp ranch dressing
S/C Value: 3/2
Well that's about it for now....  Let me know if you have any questions.  What BFC friendly items do you keep stocked up on and what BFC meals do you make most often??

1 comment:

  1. I can not imagine trying to budget for a family of 7! It looks like your food choices are really great. I love the picture of your muffin. Yummy!
    The BFC things I always have are:
    Orrowheat sandwich thins
    Healthful English muffins
    Crunchy Peanut Butter
    Nature's Hollow
    Ranch Dressing
    Jimmy Dean precooked sausage
    pork chops
    That taxed my brain:)
    I'm excited for us to have a new healthier food attitude!