One of my cousins requested more information on how I plan my meals out.
I really just started having a more planned written out menu at the beginning of the year. Previous to that, I would just buy more things if I was getting low on them of all of my basic things I use in my regular recipes.
I made a week of written out ideas, including days for leftovers. After I did that for a few weeks, I made a separate list of all the meals my family likes to eat so when I make my menu I don't have to remember what else we like. The meals range from 30 minute meals, like baked potatoes with chili to my chicken pot pie, which took more than two hours to prepare.
I use a 10x14 dry erase board that I hang in the kitchen to display the menu. I think my husband likes to see what is coming. He really does check it and when I have to move things around if my day gets crazy and I don't have the time to prepare the meal in the middle of the day, he notices and asks about it (not in a controlling way, just in a funny way). I like to get all meal prep done during my baby's naptime so I don't have him underfoot in the kitchen and so I can help my daughter with homework after school without being frantic. Instead of being frantic, an hour or so before my husband comes home I pull the pan out of the fridge and put it right into the cold oven to heat up while the oven heats up and cooks it. It is then ready to eat when it's dinnertime.
Each week when I make a new menu I just pick something from my list that we haven't had in a few weeks or I try out a new recipe. I normally don't try more than one new recipe a week because of time and possibly purchases of special ingredients.
Weekly Menu Example:
Sunday-Dinner with in-laws (take rolls)
Wednesday-Baked Potatoes and Chili
Up next: (I do this in case I don't feel like making one of the things on the menu. It also makes the next week a lot easier.)
Chicken Alfredo, Taco Soup, Velvetta Cheesy Noodles, Sloppy Joes
Here is a list of the dinners my family enjoys:
Easy (30 minutes Prep Time)-
Baked Potatoes with Chili
Velvetta Cheesy Noodles
BBQ Chicken or Beef on a Bun
Medium (1 hour Prep Time)-
Pizza (some extra time is the dough rising)
Enchiladas and Mexican Rice
Chicken and Rice
Tater Tot Casserole
Chicken Stir-fry with Veggies and Rice
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Harder (2+ hour Prep Time)-
Lasagna and French Bread
Sesame Chicken with Chow Mien
Chicken Pot Pie
I have 17 dishes listed here that I normally have the ingredients for.
I try to make my weekly meals include a chicken dish, a beef dish, cheesy dish, and meatless dish, but that is mostly so we don't get tired of chicken every night.
I also don't normally do all the easy dishes in one week because I like one night a week to be easy for me.