Sunday, April 7, 2013

Year Long Meal Plan

My wonderful mother has decided to make a year of pre-planned meals and has graciously allowed me to be a part of it and post it for all to enjoy. Every couple of weeks I will be able to post weekly meal plans when she is done, we should have a nice collection of a years worth of recipes and shopping lists. I will be posting the first week soon!

Now, let me introduce you to my mom:

You can visit her Pinterest site here.

Corry Year Long Meal Plan
by Theresa Hollingsworth Hafen Corry

            I just finished a 28 day challenge with Engine 2 and Whole Foods.  I loved it for several reasons.  Eating lots of vegetables and eating no dairy or meat made me feel great - healthy!  I also liked having a variety of dishes and trying new recipes.  Yet, my favorite part of the whole thing was having a plan with recipes all in one spot and grocery lists completed to make sure I had the right stuff on hand.  For an entire month, I did not have to say, “I wonder what I should have for dinner?  I wonder if I have the ingredients for it?  I wonder if I’m using up the foods I bought on Saturday so nothing spoils.”  Now that I am off the 28 day challenge, I wanted to continue to have a food plan in place.  After trying over and over and not being successful, I realized why few people have such a plan – it is a ton of work to put together and takes a huge amount of time!  So, I thought if I start little by little, every other week, I might be able to eventually have a year-long meal plan.

            First, a few things about me to help you understand the various choices in foods.   I like variety.  I do not want to eat macaroni and cheese every day, nor even every week.  I don’t eat a lot of meat or processed foods – one or two meals a week with meat is enough for me and a few processed foods here and there is my goal; it is a healthier choice than the typical diet of the people in the United States who have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, and other medical problems because of the way they eat, as well as too much fat, salt, sugar, and processed foods in their diets.  I also believe in food storage.  I do not want to be in any kind of disaster, natural or man-made, and not have food to attempt to keep my family healthy.  This means that I have a three month supply of canned foods on my pantry shelves (including boxed and processed foods that require little or no cooking).  I also have a year supply of staples such as flour, sugar, wheat, rice, beans; dried and freeze dried foods such as strawberries, peas, carrots, onions, etc.  In addition, I have many just add water meals (with way too much salt in them).  So, these meal plans will include items from food storage for continual rotation.  If you have storage, too, feel free to substitute dry beans for canned or whatever else you see.  Just make sure to prepare the items in advance.  For example, soak the beans overnight to have them ready for cooking.

            My family is busy during the mornings getting ready for work and school.  We also don’t have time nor facilities for preparing lunches.  So, these plans will be mainly dinners on weeknights and meals on weekends.  Breakfast and lunch will be open for whatever works for the family at the time such as cereal, oatmeal, left overs, brown bag sandwiches, or raw fruits and vegetables.  I find that when I fix the recipes, I always end up with lots of left overs.  Most of the left overs can be eaten the next day or two for lunch or put in the freezer and eaten the following week or two.  Thus, my freezer is usually full of healthy frozen dinners from prior meals I have prepared.  In fact, after the 28 day challenge, I went another three weeks eating all of the left over frozen meals from the challenge. 

            If you are not used to preparing your own meals, the first few weeks of grocery shopping will be expensive while you gather stores of spices, condiments, baking items, and so forth.  After that, you will find that about half of the grocery list is already sitting on your pantry shelves and the grocery bill will shrink.  I also still buy items that are on sale to supplement my food storage and continue to incorporate them into my meal plans.  Obviously, you can trade out any meal that doesn’t fit for something else you prefer.  Or, if you are like me and there is too much food in the plan, skip one of the meals and eat left overs instead.

            Finally, a note about the recipes.  Many of the recipes are ones that I have clipped for the past forty years.  Because of this, I cannot give exact credit where it is due.  Thus, if I don’t have a specific credit stated, the recipe most likely came from one of the following places:  Taste of Home, Betty Crocker Cookbooks, Family Circle, other ladies magazines, local cooking classes, internet, family, friends.

Click here for Week 1 meals.
Click here for Week 3 meals.
Click here for Week 5 meals.

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