Thursday, February 9, 2012

31 Dinners

Part of my less list a couple weeks ago was to go through my Pinterest food boards, print recipes I wanted to try + write a list of dinner ideas for one full month. 31 dinner with no repeats. Even though I know I have to do it every week, I don't always enjoy planning meals and making a grocery list. I've learned it has to be an easy and quick process or I will put off doing it until an hour before it's time to shop. My list became a mix of very easy, homemade and semi-homemade dinners, plus I threw in a couple of pizza/takeout/restaurant options because, let's get real, I don't like to make dinner every night.

I wrote a similar list last fall and it worked wonderfully. But it needed a makeover. I love having a good mix of go-to recipes and have finally regained my interest in trying new ones too. Below is my master dinner list for February. Yes, there are 31 ideas (and 29 days) but I'm going to use this list every month until I feel the need to change it up again. Or when I'm feeling more motivated to replace those really easy meals with new healthier ones. As expected, the soups/chilis will be replaced with grilled meals + more fresh produce as the temperatures warm up.

Note : we Mark doesn't eat red meat, so you may notice the list is lacking those type of meals. Generally, I substitute ground turkey for things like burgers, tacos + sloppy joes. And, even if I haven't mentioned it, most meals include a veggie or other side dish. Also, I've linked back to the original recipe if I could find it on the internet. If you are really interested in something I haven't linked, I can email my recipe to you. :)

  • cheesy chicken rolls (shredded chicken + mozzerella cheese inside crescent rolls with a sour cream based sauce on top - Morgan's favorite meal)
  • chicken parmesan
  • kielbasa + pierogies or noodles
  • teriyaki meatballs, noodles, fresh pineapple + rolls
  • chicken mug pie (this is really just a pot pie filling in a coffee mug, topped with a jumbo biscuit - easy!)
  • crockpot orange chicken + rice + Asian veggies

Mexican - always awesome with Mexican/Spanish rice, chips + salsa/guacamole  
soups + chilis - we love these with sourdough rolls, bread bowls from Panera or grilled cheese 
on a bun - these meals are usually accompanied with a side like raw veggies and/or sweet potato fries or chips
  • scrambled eggs + bagels 
  • waffles or pancakes with sausage + fruit
This is my weekly game plan. Each Thursday night, I sit down with my list and make a rough dinner menu for the following week. As I make a meal each night, I cross it off the list above, so I know it's 'off limits' until next month. I try to incorporate a mix of chicken/turkey, pasta, soups + sandwiches. I also take into account Mark's work schedule (if he knows ahead of time about how busy he'll be / how late he'll be working), as well as busy nights in general. I tend to save easier meals for the end of the week (when I seem to get bored/uninterested with cooking) and messy meals, like spaghetti, tend to go with bath night. :)

I also make note of leftovers that there will be. For instance, I buy a rotisserie chicken almost weekly and shred it to use on any recipe that requires pre-cooked chicken. Sometimes, most times, I don't need the whole chicken for said recipe so I plan to use it up in other ways. Maybe chicken quesadillas or chicken salad for lunches, or I'll find another recipe from the list that only needs a little chicken. I'm pretty good at not letting food go to waste, but I'm not always mindful of it. It's something I'm working on.

Then after I go shopping, I hang the week's dinner plan on my chalkboard. You can read more about how I made that here + how I revised it here.

This list has been a lifesaver for someone that always dreads making that weekly grocery list. Asking my family for dinner ideas often falls on deaf ears, so this was my next best solution. Now I hardly ever feel like I'm asking myself "didn't we just have that?"

If you have any meal planning tips or favorite dinner recipes, I'd LOVE to hear them below in the comments.


  1. A great idea! I've been working with my Pint. recipes too and made a "tried and true" board to move them to when we make them! I just posted today about all my recipe links used in Jan/Feb. Great minds think alike! :)

  2. Amazing idea! Totally sharing this on my facebook page in the morning. I'm joining in with you on this idea. Perfect.