Thursday, January 9, 2014

I've Got Your Dinner Plans Right Here

Alternate Titles:
You Can't Spell 'Bliss' (incorrectly) Without L-I-S-T
How Many Lists Would a List Lover List if a List Lover Loved Listing Lists?
Failure To Plan (Dinner) = Planning To Fail (Dinner) 

A few months ago, I came up with the totally original, never ever before thought of idea to plan my family's dinners for the entire month.  Immediately, I saw the list-making value in this venture, and whipped out my favorite mechanical pencil.

Here is a list of the pros and cons involved in this task:


  • It's actually many lists in one.  First, I write down the dates, then fill in the meals I know I won't have to plan on cooking (Taco Tuesday, Thanksgiving, school fundraiser night at a restaurant, etc.).  Next, I count the blanks and list the number of dinners needed in a neat column on the side.  I then randomly list meals in that column, until I finally assign the meals to specific dates, keeping in mind how recently I will have served a specific dinner or something similar.  
  • $$$$!  Knowing that I'm going to be making chili in 3 weeks, for example, lets me take advantage of the sale on cans of diced tomatoes at the grocery store while feeling confident that they won't be taking up valuable pantry space for months.  I shop less often, now, because of my plan, and I've been shopping smarter, too.
  • If you are the person who does most of the cooking for your household, you can easily imagine the relief of knowing every morning what you'll be making for dinner that night.  It takes so much stress away from daily life, and leaves more time for...
  • If you are the person who does not do most of the cooking, it's also nice to know what to expect each night.  Plus, you are able to give input on what you would like to eat just once a month, on the day the list is made, rather than being asked before breakfast every morning, "What sounds good to you for dinner?"
  • Leftover love. Pulled pork in the crock pot on the 5th, leftovers frozen. Cuban sandwiches (with the leftover pork) on the 16th, Taquitos (yup, you guessed it- with the last of the pork) on the 28th. I make a big batch of homemade spaghetti sauce early in the month, save a few gallon-sized freezer bags-full and lay them flat on the freezer shelf.  All the rest of my pasta dishes for the month are then easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Let's sum up the pros.  Save money, save time, relax, make others happy, write many lists.  But, this is a fair and balanced blog, unlike like the television news stations, so now for the other side.

  • It can take a good hour or so to think of and write down all the dinners you'll make for the month.  (However, if you calculate how much time you waste each month staring in the fridge or pantry, looking through cookbooks repeatedly, or just wracking your brain trying to think of anything yummy that you didn't already eat this week, it probably adds up to more than 60 minutes.  We'll have to call this one a "pron").
  • Impromptu dinner invitations are not accepted/offered quite as often.  (Although, having fresh meat and produce forcing you to cook rather than go to a restaurant can be a money-saving pro, too.  We've got us another pron.)
  • Um.

Of course, I know that I'm not actually the first person to do this whole planning of dinner thing.  In fact, I was inspired by my online friend, Luisa, who has worship-worthy cooking/planning skills.  How about you?  Do you plan ahead, or are your dinners stir of the moment? (Ha!)


  1. I keep thinking we should make a Master List Of Everything, which ought to simplify the currently PAINFUL weekly Think Of Meals task. But no.

  2. I love having my meals planned ahead of time although it is usually more like a week and a half than a month. It is weirdly hard to make myself sit down and decide on meals though. I have no good excuse when I don't do it.