Meal Planning: 31 with 31

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. We participate in other affiliate programs as well. For more details, please see our disclosure policy.

grilled chicken dinner couscous green beans

So, in order to avoid McDonalds and StuffMart everyday, we know it’s best to have a meal plan. I’ve mentioned how I’ve been doing it recently and how I (and multitudes of mothers) have done it in the past.

Last year I devised a different method based on putting together a “staples ingredient” list to keep on hand at all times and a list of meal ideas that use just those items.

I called it “31 with 31” — 31 meals made with 31 ingredients. This is a great method for those who like to fly by the seat of their pants and don’t want to be tied to a specific dish to cook each night. As long as you have your staples and you know what you can make with them, you’re good to go. It’s particularly nice for summertime as it lends itself to spontanaeity.

Start small if you prefer and come up with 10 meals that your family likes. Then, make a grocery list based on those 10 meals.

Chances are they will contain some common ingredients. Keep a copy of the list in your wallet, so that you’re always prepared for a trip to the store.

If you keep your pantry, frig, and freezer full of your custom stapes, you’ll always be prepared for a quick dinner fix.

In case you want further inspiration, here’s my summertime list.

Summer Menu Ideas

alfredo pasta
bean burritos
boules de picolat (Catalan meatballs)
butter and cheese pasta
chicken enchiladas
chicken fajitas
crunchy tacos
fried chicken salad
grilled chicken caesar salad
grilled sausage/hotdogs
ground beef burritos
lemon chicken
marinara pasta
meat sauce w/ pasta
pasta and sausage
soft tacos
spaghetti and meatballs

Got a quick trick for your menu planning?

About Jessica Fisher

I believe you can get great meals on the table -- and still keep that pretty smile on your face.

Read Newer Post
Read Older Post


  1. Jen says:

    Have you considered putting your recipes in an E-book? To have that kind of convenience of having 31 ready to make meals I would definitely buy it!!

    My problem is there are only a few things I make where I have the recipe “in my head” that is the way I prefer to cook. I don’t like having to get a recipe book out. But there are a few things I cook where I refer back and forth with my recipe… we just don’t have very many to choose from.

  2. Shari says:

    I’d buy that one too! And I’ll take a copy of your “you can do this” how-to creative cake-making e-book too. 😉

    Speaking of cakes, how’d your chocolate cheesecake turn out for your B-day? Did you make it a theme cake? Like in the shape of a shark sweeper thingy or a CVS coupon? 🙂 (You know I am just playing–you don’t have to post this comment if you don’t want to!)

  3. FishMama says:

    I guess I know what I’ll be doing over my summer vacation. 😉 Thanks for the great ideas, ladies. I’m working on it, I promise.

    Bday cheesecake was delish. Good timing, too, right before I take my Glucose Tolerance Test on Monday. No, funky shapes for me – it was just a simple circle.

  4. Crystal Paine says:

    I’m standing in line for this ebook, too. 😉

    (FishMama, you are going to be one busy gal with all these ebooks we want you to churn out!)

    And I got a good laugh over the thought of a Shark or CVS cheesecake. Great idea, Shari!

Thanks so much for participating in this conversation about "a mom's life."

This is a place where moms can be themselves. Remember that each mother's path looks a little different. Please keep your comments respectful and kind. Reasonable minds will disagree in a nice way.

So let's talk about it, using "our big girl words."

Share Your Thoughts