November 1, 2010

Meal Plan Monday | A Look at My MELLY!

I plan my family's dinners in five week blocks to maximize my savings at the grocery store and minimize my stress at dinner time. You can read more about my strategy here in my Q&A post here.

I also answered several more questions about how I plan my big ol' menus and how I stockpile shop the weekly sales with coupons; my goal is to get the best deals on items for my monthly menu plan for the lowest cost.  For more Q&A (because you're just dying to know, right?), click here.


It's November, month of the Big Turkey, and I've yet to sit down and make my November Menu Plan. It's on today's TO DO list...somewhere down past Conquering Mt. Laundry.  ;-)

This month's menu plan will be a fairly simple one since I'll be hosting Thanksgiving dinner here at my home.  Between the feast day cooking/baking and the way our family schedule is shaping up (oodles of basketball practices & games), I'll be planning a KISS menu and will share it with you once I've got it finished up. 

However, I did want to share my MELLY with you - remember that funny little acronym I shared in this post

                   :: Meals Everyone Likes List {for} Your {family}

Because I have a MELLY with about (20) or so main dish meals as well as sides, it's fairly easy for me to sit down and throw together a menu plan for the month based around our family schedule, known events we're attending, holidays and birthdays, and any free nights or pizza fundraiser nights for our school (there's usually a couple of these per month and we try to support them when we can). 

Once I have good look at our month ahead and have an idea of days when I'll have extra time (meaning I can cook something a bit more complicated or spend a bit of extra time doubling a recipe for the freezer) as well as which days will run me through the gauntlet (perfect days for the slow cooker or for one of those doubled dinners from the freezer), I can just plug in the meals where they fit best. 

During a month like November, I can also look at the week leading up to Thanksgiving and plan out the food prep for the feast (I have a really good post about saving time & money by planning ahead for Thanksgiving week right here; I'll be talking more about that as we draw closer to the holiday).

I can also plan a few leftover dinners for Thanksgiving weekend as well as search for some new recipes for using up those leftovers so we don't go into Turkey-Gravy-Stuffing Overload.  ;-)

So my MELLY is mighty useful to me; why reinvent the wheel, right?  Having a MELLY saves me time when I menu plan (and your time is your most precious resource) and it grows a bit every month as I add new recipes I've tested and my family likes. 

For your convenience, I've created a GoogleDoc of my MELLY with links (when available/applicable) to the recipes I use online (and seriously, my laptop is always on my kitchen counter; during dinner prep, I'm scrolling and clicking through those recipes myself). 

To view My MELLY, click here.

If you find any problems in the GoogleDoc (ie: broken links), please drop a comment and let me know so I can fix it.

Now, while I have you here, a question for YOU (because I love to gather info from my super smart readers):

What are your hands down go-to dinner recipes/meals for your family dinners?  Have a recipe link or post at your blog - please share in a comment below!  I'm always on the lookout for some new dinner ideas - thanks in advance for your input!

Looking for more menu planning inspiration?  Be sure to hop through the Menu Plan Monday links over at OrgJunkie.


  1. My family loves this:

    Chicken breasts
    1 jar of alfredo
    1 can of cream of chicken
    poultry seasoning (I tend to use different ones depending on my mood)

    Bake at 375, serve over rice.

    It's really good with rice pilaf, or wild rice mixes.

  2. We love chicken tacos!

    4-5 chicken breasts
    1 can rotel (diced tomatoes and green chilis)
    1 pkg taco seasoning (or homemade to equal one package)
    corn tortillas

    Put chicken breasts in pan pour tomatoes and taco seasoning on top. Bring to simmer and cook until tender and able to shred. Serve in tortillas and add desired toppings: cheddar cheese, shredded lettuce, avocado, sour cream, etc.

    Can also be done in the crockpot.


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