WFMW: Backward meal plan

I don’t know about you, but the hardest part for me about cooking dinner has nothing to do with cooking.

It’s simply coming up with the ideas for what to cook.

I go through spurts with my meal-planning efforts. Sometimes I plan out meals for a month. Other times, I do Sunday planning sessions for the next week. And then there are many, many days when I’m just hoping to come up with an idea by 5 p.m.

When Jan. 1 rolled around, we were still adjusting to our new life with four children and getting into a routine with a newborn. I definitely wasn’t in the mood to think of meals for the month. But the pressure was on. Our string of wonderful meals that had been showing up at our door in the hands of smiling, caring friends was about to run dry.

So, I decided to plan my meals in reverse. In other words, when Feb. 1 rolled around, I wanted to be able to look back at the meals we had in January to use as my foundation for the month.

Each night, I would try my best to come up with a decent dinner idea for my family and write it in my planner. I wanted to make something different each night. By the end of the month, I should have at least 20 dinner ideas I could use in February.

I used lots of family favorites. I tried some new recipes. I mixed in some super simple ideas. And usually on Friday or Saturday night, we ordered pizza.

If you are in need of meal-planning ideas, here’s what we have been eating for the last month:

  • Pork roast with carrots and potatoes
  • Italian beef (made in crock pot)
  • Vegetable soup, made with leftover meat from the pork roast. I simply put the meat in the crock pot and added one can of each of the following: beef broth, diced tomatoes, green beans, corn, as well as some chopped carrots and a potato.
  • Manicotti (when I made the manicotti, I doubled the recipe, then divided it into four small pans. I froze the other three pans for a quick meal another day.)
  • Kluski noodles cooked in chicken broth with diced chicken and carrots
  • Chicken enchiladas
  • Biscuits and gravy
  • Potato soup with sausage (a friend brought this one)
  • Frito tacos (this is taco meat and toppings served with Fritos instead of taco shells)
  • Homemade waffles
  • Lunch meat sandwiches with chips and dip and pasta salad
  • Chicken patties (from the frozen aisle) with sides of corn and fruit
  • Cornbread chili
  • Shepherd’s pie
  • BBQ chicken thighs (I buy a big package of chicken thighs and cook them in the crock pot on low all day with a bottle of BBQ sauce.)
  • Hot dogs, baked beans, chips
  • Crepes with cream cheese filling
  • Spaghetti with homemade meatballs
  • Pasta with bacon and chicken

I have a few new recipes that I want to try later this week. And I’m hoping to look for some healthier meals next month.

Will you help me come up with some new ideas for February? What is your family’s absolute favorite meal?

My backward meal plan worked for me! For more great ideas, head on over to Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

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  1. Gyros! : )Oh, and Oven apple pancake with a side of smoked sausage (pg. 36 of the CTC cookbook).I have several weeks' worth of meal plans from years ago that I occasionally look at for inspiration too. I'm thinking for Feb. I'm going to continue with my new monthly planning chart and just switch out a few old meals for new ones before printing.

  2. I like to live on the edge and guess what's for dinner every night. Once a year I look at a grocery ad and go buy meat that's on sale and plan around that. It's happened already this year!Tonight, though, we each made our own mini pizzas with the Boboli pizza crust, homemade pizza sauce and whatever we wanted on top. Mine had olives, mushrooms and spinach. Everyone had fun making their own "pie". Good family bonding!I admire your meal planning skills!:)Lynn

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