Project Organize :: The Two-Week Dinner Plan.

THE TWO-WEEK DINNER PLAN by Serene Heiner of Serene is my name, Not my life!

I think the two most frustrating things about making dinner are one, not having the faintest idea what to make, and two, having something you want to make but are lacking all the ingredients.

So what happens? You think to yourself, “Blast. Well, I guess its macaroni and cheese again! Oh wait... we’re out of macaroni and cheese? Uhhh... do we have any tator tots?”

Been there, done that.

I also LOATHE throwing out food. It feels like I’m tossing money into the garbage. Then I feel guilty for wasting! Yea, you know what I’m talking about mister vegetable drawer! Anyway, I finally decided I needed a plan. Not only to keep dinner organized, less time consuming and less hectic, but also find a way to stick to our grocery budget better and waste less food.

Enter my two-week dinner and grocery shopping plan. It’s easy peasy and works like a charm!
To start, sit down with all your cookbooks, visit your favorite cooking blogs, or browse the internet. Pick out twelve recipes. Yup, twelve. I say twelve instead of fourteen because this allows for one day each week to be the designated “left-over” night. Pick out easy recipes for half the days, like spaghetti or baked potatoes, and half more time consuming recipes.

Now, here’s the trick. When you pick a recipe, write down what it is and where you found it so you don't have to waste time trying to remember. Then add what ingredients you need for it to your shopping list! And wa-la! You will use up what you have in my fridge, resulting in less waste, and you'll always have the ingredients you need for dinner.

Here are a couple other ideas to help organize your meal planning:
- Gather all your recipes for the two weeks and put them together in one place.
- Have your recipes set up so they are compatible with what your day will be like. Will you have company? Will you be gone all day? Etc.
- Cook in bulk. When cooking something, such as chicken for dinner, and you know you are going to need some chicken for a recipe in a couple days, go ahead and cook up the extra right then! It will save you time.
- If you are on a tight budget, don’t be afraid to shop with a calculator! If you find yourself going over your budget, just put that extra box of crackers or cookies back on the shelf.

12 comments

  1. Mmmm....I want to come eat dinner at your house! That menu is making me hungry. LMAO

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  2. Love this post! Seems like such a simple idea, one of those "why didn't I think of that" things. I'll have to give it a shot!

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  3. Oh my gosh I love this series of posts! Just found them now and totally catching up on all the great tips. I'm a total type A person when it comes to organizing; I even started a little organizing blog at http://carlyrobertson.typepad.com/perfectly_pretty/ because I'm so addicted to organizing! Thanks for this fun series! Hugs, Carly

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  4. I am right there with you! I *love* to cook, and abhor coming up with ideas to cook! I definitely need to plan better- I use a binder with the Avery Sheet protectors for my favorite recipes and keep them all in one place.
    thanks for these segments...now, when can you come HERE and help me in my craft space??? ;)

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  5. I started doing two week menus in July and love it. I even created a menu planner page that fits in my Franklin Covey planner. Here is a link to my post about it.

    http://megjustsaying.blogspot.com/2010/06/menu-planning.html

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  6. That is a good idea!
    And i kinda do that now.
    planning meals is a chore but it is a LOT less hassle in the long run...

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  7. Warning: I'm a big nerd...

    I actually typed up a spreadsheet of all the foods we normally buy and other misc. items and made a grocery shopping checklist and I grouped them by their location in the grocery store to make it easy when shopping. I also typed up a list of main dishes, side dishes, lunches, snacks, etc. So...when it's meal planning time, I print both documents, determine which meals we want and check off the ingredients I'll need on the shopping list.

    This took a bit of time to set up, but once it was done it makes things super quick and easy. We don't eat the same meals over and over, well some meals we do, but I rotate dishes and add new things when I come across something my family would like. I have a house cleaning plan too but, uh, don't really stick to it.

    Told you I was a big nerd. LOL

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  8. I do the EXACT same thing as you :) Two weeks!

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  9. Hey, that's a greally great idea! I plan one week menues but the two weeks and leaving place for left-overs {or if I really do not feel like cooking} is a great idea. Also placing all the recipes in one place is also so helpful.

    Thanks so much for this! :)

    Much love from Sweden
    ~Senja

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  10. Dawn: LOL! Seems like everyone in the family have a different "favorite".

    Elizabeth: I know what you mean! I do that with just about everyone else's fabulous ideas! I hope this works for ya!

    Pink: Thanks!

    AJ: What a great idea! I'll have to keep that in mind!

    Meglion: Oooh, Franklin Covey. My mom use to get those for us when we were teenagers. I'm thinking I need another one!

    Hey Cluttered Brain! Thanks! And yes, I totoally agree.

    Leigh: You're not a nerd. And if you are. my husband would have to be a nerd too. He uses spreadsheets for EVERYTHING. Especially our budget. I think we've gone through a bout six or seven different versions till he came up with one he liked!

    Tiff: Yea!!

    Senja: Hey thanks! I use to do one week as well but found a saved a lot more time and money by doing the two weeks.


    And Hannah, thanks again for letting me do this, it was so fun!

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  11. Great ideas. I like putting clean-out-the-fridge meals toward the end so I can use up those veggies or rice I haven't used yet (like fried rice, stir fry, or hawaiian haystacks).

    If you are on a tight budget I find it is cheaper to buy what's on sale then plan your meals around that. It is a little tougher, but cheaper.

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