Meal Planning Saves: Step 1 - Your Master List

by Robin

Meal planning saves huge time, money and stress. I will write more about this in another post (at length -  I apologize in advance).

Step One for a good meal plan is a Master List of meals.  This step has been key for our family to take the anxiety out of the supper hour.  We eat better and we enjoy our time at the table more.  It's pretty simple and if you do one thing for Meal Planning, this is it.  We keep this list on our fridge and add to it when we hit on a successful recipe.

What defines a "successful recipe"?  Around our place:

  • preparation time of about 15 minutes, 
  • healthy ingredients, 
  • low cost, and 
  • minimal complaints from the children.

Here's our family's Master List (click on the links for recipes):

1. Sweet and Sour Meatballs (with rice)

2. Jelly Chicken with carrots and "5 Minute Bread"

3. Fried Rice (my lovely friend Jane's recipe, get to know her here at her blog) with Planned-Over (aka leftovers you plan to make) Jelly Chicken (#2 above) and Planned-Over rice (from #1 above)

4. Easy Homemade Chicken Fingers, peppers and "Daddy Fries" (aka potato wedges)

5. Peachiest Pork Chops, peppers and rice or potato

6. Diego Sandwiches (aka bean burritos, as marketed to my kids) with Easy Guacamole

7. Our Fish Sticks (another recipe hack) with Broccoli, Couscous and Cashew Side Dish

8. Hamburgers or Hot dogs (or both) and salad

9. Easy Pasta with Veggies and Meat Sauce

10. Oven Fried Fish, peas and 5-Minute Bread, 3 Minute Coleslaw

11. French Toast with Peach Sauce and vanilla yogurt

12. Pork Tenderloin peas and rice

13. Cashew Stir Fry with rice noodles

14. Slow Cooker Chili (using Make Ahead Meat Sauce) with Cornbread

15. Boba Fett-ucini (another of Jane's recipes, as marketed to my kiddos) with peas and ham

16. Roasted Chicken Dinner (with carrots, onions and potatoes)

17. "Sauce Chicken", a butter chicken- like stew (that my daughter thinks she invented) with cous cous (and Planned-Over chicken from the Roast Chicken Dinner), served with 5 Minute Naan

18. Kids Pizza Chefs - we all make our own pizza's - using "5 Minute Bread" dough

19. Ikea Hack meatballs with peas and rice

20. Better-Than-Takeout Baked Chinese Chicken with Lemon Sauce with Broccoli, Cous Cous and Cashew Side Dish

21.  Shepherd's Pie with Planned-Over mashed potatoes and LGB Helper

22.  Soup and Make-Your-Own Sub Night.

Back-up frozen meals (for days that go off the rails):
1. frozen pizza (whatever is on sale - a fancy one for Ed and I and a boring one for the kids - with leftovers for lunches)

2. frozen Blue Menu Shepherd's Pie

3. frozen Blue Menu lasagna

We will keep building on the recipe links in the coming weeks.  (If there's a recipe that you're especially interested in, leave a comment and we'll start there!)

I find sharing recipes with friends the hands-down best way to get great family meal ideas. Would you share your "Master List" here? 


  1. I would love recipes for all of your master list items! I am in need of some inspiration to get back on the menu planning track :) Love your blog by the way!

    1. Thank-you so much for the compliment, TL! We are gradually adding all the recipes, it's taking a bit of time, but the plan is to have them all up here in the next couple months. :) Robin

  2. Thank you! I don't mind waiting for the recipes. I just wanted to let you know I would be interested in all of them!

  3. Just discovered this--I love this idea. So simple--as smart ideas often are. You've got me thinking about what our master list would be.

  4. This is a great list! I see you have added some recipes, but not all. Are you planning to add any more?


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