Tastefully Tuesday - Meal Planning for a family of four and a recipe!

I was recently disheartened by the amount of food I threw out when I cleaned my refrigerator.  I had obviously made too much food with leftovers people did not want to eat, including myself.  I decided it was time to stop flying solo when it comes to meal planning.  

I have an 8 year old, a 4 year old, and a husband. This month I asked them to give me four meals they want to eat.  It can be the same meal every single week or four different meals.  My husband basically said stir-frys were something he'd been wanting and my 8 year old said macaroni & cheese was on her list as was breakfast for supper (pancakes and bacon).  After some discussion with her we decided adding salmon patties to go along with the macaroni and cheese was a good idea although my 4 year old will not eat the salmon patties.  ugh!  I am doing my best to not expect everyone at the table to be happy with the food because that just sets me up for failure.  So here is the week's menu:

The Cherry Chicken Stir-Fry is basically just cooking up some chicken breasts and throwing in some bell peppers and broccoli.  After that is all cooked I just add some cherry zinfandel grill sauce until it has enough to my liking.  I let the sauce cover all the meat and veggies and keep it warm for just a little bit.  Then I serve it over jasmine rice (always our rice of choice).  

I tend to make new recipes all the time but I do have a recipe box full of recipe cards of meals we have tried and liked.  From time to time I make a Kielbasa sausage, potato and green bean bake.  It's super simple so I'm sharing the recipe with you.

4-6 small potatoes chopped into bite-sized pieces 
1 lb. (1 package) of your favorite Kielbasa type sausage cut into bite-sized pieces
1 can of green beans (lately I've been using some french style beans I found in the refrigerated section of Sam's club - they look kind of fancy and taste better)
1/4 C butter
1 T lemon pepper or seasoning of your choice (I like to use a basic seasoned salt a lot)
1/4 C shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spread the chopped potatoes and green beans out in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan. Mix in cut sausage.  Cut pats of butter evenly over the mixture and sprinkle with lemon pepper.  Cover with foil.  Bake for 50 minutes.  Place cheese over the top to melt.  

*If you are in a hurry you can cook the potatoes in the microwave until they begin to soften, then put them in oven with everything else for a shorter amount of time.  It works but you lose a bit of yumminess so I recommend baking it for 50 minutes.

Having a Master Meal Plan listed on my refrigerator has been a great helper.  On the left I have listed meals I have all the ingredients for.  On the right I have listed meals I want to make or are missing just one ingredient or something.  It's in front of me to remind me to choose future meals based off of this list.  The list in the middle is vegetables I have available.  This master list is actually saving me a lot of time.

Meal planning takes constant tweaking especially for a family.  How do you meal plan?  What is working for you?  

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