Three Cheese Pizza with Peaches and Basil4

Why I check the weather before I cook… and a few helpful meal planning tips!

If you have a iPhone or other Smartphone, chances are you probably have some sort of “weather app”. Right?  I like weather channel – my husband prefers weather underground – and yet we still make it work;)

Anyway, if you have a weather app or if you check the forecast online, you’ve probably seen this before.

Would you believe that the 10-day forecast is a actually a big part of my menu planning? I realize it’s not a fool-proof weather predictor (My oldest son loves to hear the weather each day so he can “see if the weather man was right or not…”) but it gives me a pretty good idea of how I want to plan out my meals. For example: 98 degrees on Monday? I’ll pass on cranking on the ol’ oven. 60% chance of rain on Tuesday? I think I’ll put off the grilling until Thursday, just in case. I should note though that the weather forecast for the summer in my area is pretty much always… hot. So that means my summer menu is usually fresh and not too heavy :)

Here are a those helpful meal planning tips I mentioned:

1) Create a regular meal rotation or weekly theme nights. We usually have Mexican, chicken (usually grilled chicken or a freezer meal), burgers, salad, wraps or sandwiches, pizza or pasta, and the occasional kid-choice/date night (chicken nuggets for them and takeout for us) as a part of our regular rotation. If you don’t want to attempt theme nights, start a list of your favorite meals or in my case, the things that my husband says, “you have to make this again!” It makes it easy to menu plan when you have a basic strategy and a full playbook of recipe ideas already.

2) Make two lists each week: first, a meal idea list and then second, a shopping list. I have an ongoing list of potential meal ideas on my desk. Each Saturday morning before I head to the store, I browse through my list of recipe ideas to plan my menu. Then once I have chosen 5 or 6 meals for the week, I go through my pantry and freezer, then together my actual shopping list. One sidenote: don’t take your meal idea list to the store and leave it in the cart by accident… speaking from experience, that’s a bad idea. Instead you should stick it someplace like on your fridge or in your day planner where you can’t lose it. :)

3)  Choose meals with similar ingredients. From avocados and basil to dijon mustard and bacon – it saves you time and money to choose you choose ingredients that can do double duty and be used in more than one recipe for the week.

4) Plan your menu in a way that fits you and your family. You may be perfectly happy to make a huge beef or pork roast on Monday and eat it for 3 days straight. You may enjoy browsing Pinterest and coming up with a brand new recipe for each night. Or you may like to plan out your menu for the month all at once. There’s no right or wrong way to menu plan  –  there is no one size fits all approach. What’s most important is that you find a way to help alleviate dinner time stress!

So I hope those tips were helpful! And here is what I’m cooking this week:

Buffalo Chicken Wraps with Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

Monday: Buffalo Chicken Wraps with Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

Chicken Alfredo with Fresh Cherry Tomatoes and Basil 2

Tuesday: Freezer Recipe: Chicken Alfredo with Fresh Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

Quinoa Salad with Spinach, Bacon, & Cranberry Feta 3

Wednesday: Quinoa Salad with Spinach, Bacon, & Cranberry Feta (super excited for this new recipe I came up with!)

Three Cheese Pizza with Peaches and Basil4

Thursday: Three Cheese Pizza with Peaches and Basil

Friday: California Pita Burgers with Avocado and Bacon

Saturday: Chicken Tacos with Spicy Black Beans and Guacamole

Sunday: Hot Dog Cookout at the Pool

What are you cooking this week?

Why I check the weather before I cook… and a few helpful meal planning tips!
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