Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Let's Talk About: Meal Plans

Sean and I are wanting to start planning our meals, but really don't know where to start. I know a lot of you out there do meal planning so I'd like to hear your comments and suggestions and what works for you.Maybe even some websites that you use frequently for recipes.

Thanks!

21 comments:

lola said...

I really just started with my cookbooks and a sticky note. I ask my husband if there's anything he'd like that week and incorporate that in. Then I sift through the cookbooks and try to do 1 new recipe a week and add in traditional favorites. I also usually leave in 1 day for going out or friends, as we usually end up doing something like that at least once a week!

Young Mom/Wife said...

It can seem overwhelming at first, but once you get used to doing it you won't go back.
I started with only planning meals for one week. I write out what we are having for dinner, any deserts I want to make, and things I want to make for lunch (if I don't want leftovers every day). Under each meal I write down what I need in order to make the meal (including spices we don't have, oils, etc). From there I make my grocery list. Of course I add fruit, veggies, toiletries, etc to the grocery list because we are big snackers.

I would start with meals you already know and love, and each week add in one or two new meals that you want to try. When trying out new recipes really judge the ingredients and make sure there aren't ingredients in there that you have to buy a lot of and then will never use again.

Okay, I hope that helps you get started! Good luck.

JG said...

Typically, I would print out a month calendar from outlook or something, and write out two weeks at a time, one meal a day, because even if we go out on the weekends, we still need to eat lunch or something. It helps to make for only a couple of trips to the store a month.

Kelli said...

be flexible =) Plan out things you would normally make to begin with at first, and maybe just do a few days at a time until you get used to it before you do a whole week!

J.L.S. said...

I tend to do it by week because I don't want fresh produce and stuff to go bad before I can get to it. We also usually only do 3-4 meals a week. That gives us (me) some flexibility if I'm not feeling like cooking or for meals that make a lot of leftovers.

Like Lola said, I usually ask Scott if there is anything in particular he is craving. He usually only gives me 1 thing and I'll make that one of our meals. Then, I just go through recipe books or Tasty Kitchen/PW to see if there is anything that peaks my interest. If I can't find anything new that I feel like cooking that week then we will resort to old standbys.

Once I've picked out our meals, I'll just write down the ingredients for each meal and then add to it whatever other random assortment of things we need to pick up at the store that week.

I don't ever say on Monday we'll have this meal, on Tuesday this meal, etc. It's easier for me to judge it a day or two ahead. Obviously if I have meat that needs to be thawed, I have to think a little ahead. But generally I'll decide what to have for dinner the night before. That way I don't feel stifled by the planning. There is still some flexibility involved.

Megan said...

I use recipezaar.com and allrecipes.com a lot. When I first started cooking I would only make the highest rated recipes on those sites. lol For meal planning, I do it weekly and we only go to the store once a week. It keeps our food budget wayy down because we dont eat out a lot and DH comes home for lunch every day. For dinner, I usually make things that make 4 servings and we have the leftovers the next day for lunch.

Kelli said...

We have an award for you over at Our Soldiers Make Us Sisters!!
=)
http://soldiersmakesisters.blogspot.com/2010/06/versatile-blogger-award.html

Susan said...

The Pioneer Woman! Her recipes are amazing. I usually stick to a weekly plan ... sort of :)

Emily @ Longley's in San Diego said...

I use lots of different cookbooks, and websites to find meals. I just sit down the day before I go shopping and start looking to see what sounds good. This last week I decided I want to use mostly whatever I have in the pantry so that I can get rid of a few things. That was a little more work to figure out meals around what I had. But it's do able.

My husband never really cares what I plan, just as long as he gets a meat product once a week.

Another thing I do is on a piece of paper I make a calendar from one payday to the next. I only do two weeks at a time. I write down on each day what I'll be making and where I found the dish at so I don't forget. I don't always make the meal on the day I put it, it's just a nice way to see what I have planned. I also leave at least one day blank in case we might be out and about. Or if I know we're going to be away I leave a spot open.

Hope this helps!??

meghan e. said...

I'm a new follower, but an old meal planner so I decided I would chime in. I like to remain a little flexible when it comes to meals, because let's be honest some days I don't feel like making a super involved dinner. So I will fill out the week's worth of meals, while making my grocery list. When I go to cook I don't always stick to the day I just look at the week and see what I feel like cooking, make it, then cross it off. It seems to work the best for our family to do it weekly and go shopping once a week, that way things don't go bad. As for recipes, anything betty crocker. I think I would marry her if I could! The recipes at first seem really involved, but once you get stocked up on ingredients you're usually good for a few shopping trips.

Random Musings Of My Life said...

I have tried this 11809787 times... I just can not do it. I try so hard and the first day goes GREAT and then I fail...

Jenn B said...

I am lazy. I will fail everytime if left to my own devices. And the hubby never tells me what he wants. So you know what, I let the Internet do it for me. Shopping list, meal plan and recipes. I use paleoplan.com right now bc duh, I'm doing paleo. But before, I used e-mealz.com. I actually prefer the paleo plan bc it does your breakfast lunch snack and dinner.

ShanonRenee said...

Adam and I try to sit down with the Sunday paper and go through the ads and our coupons for a starting point. We plan 4 meals per week with some sort of meat in the freezer for a 5th just in case but 90% of the time something comes up and we only get 4 week day dinners at home. Once we have a starting point based on sales and coupons we figure out what sounds good and draw up a menu around that. We usually do 4 main dishes and 8 sides then mix and match the sides based on what we feel like on any given day.
Hope I was of some help!

ShanonRenee said...

Adam and I try to sit down with the Sunday paper and go through the ads and our coupons for a starting point. We plan 4 meals per week with some sort of meat in the freezer for a 5th just in case but 90% of the time something comes up and we only get 4 week day dinners at home. Once we have a starting point based on sales and coupons we figure out what sounds good and draw up a menu around that. We usually do 4 main dishes and 8 sides then mix and match the sides based on what we feel like on any given day.
Hope I was of some help!

Rachel said...

Do it!! Meal planning has made my life easier, not to mention it has drastically cut our grocery budget. I just plan for 7 days at a time. I come up with 7 dinner ideas and several lunch ideas, and each afternoon we pick out which one we're in the mood for. I like not having to run to the store almost every day for that one ingredient, my fridge is always prepared!!

I highly recommend allrecipes.com. It's free to sign up, and you can create your own online recipe box. It can even generate grocery lists for you. Good luck! Meal planning seems overwhelming at first, but it really makes life easier.

indiana.girl said...

I tried doing this for a while and it turned out that I spent a lot more money on groceries when I planned the means in advance, which was really counter productive. It turns out that if I know what I'm making for a week, naturally I would buy *everything* for that meal, whereas if I didn't know, many of the meals would end up being cheap improvs.

Now I just buy core ingredients that I know I can use in a many different ways and try one new recipe every once in a while.

It's fun to do though. Good luck!

Anam Cara said...

Meal planning:

This is easiest if you use index cards.

Make a card (or list) of all the things you like to make divided by main ingredient. On the back of the card, list the ingredients you need to make this (not the entire recipe!)
You will have categories like:
beef, chicken, pork, fish, meatless

Figure our a good way to divide your week something like this (the way you want it!)
Sunday - beef
Monday – meatless,
Tuesday - beef
Wednesday - pork
Thursday – chicken
Friday - Fish
Sat – chicken

Now use your main dishes to fit into the grid. Another thing that you might consider for meal plans is DOLODOL
Double meal, only, leftover, only, double meal, only leftover.

In the above, Sunday you might make a London Broil, Monday would be a big salad, Tuesday would be steak sandwiches using the leftover London Broil, Wednesday could be a ham steak, Thursday you would roast a chicken, Friday tilapia filets, Saturday a casserole using the leftover chicken.

Once you’ve done all this, you can add to your cards (on the front under the main dish) side dishes you like – put corn with the ham steak, spinach salad with the London Broil, etc. You, of course, will have many cards for each category – and may want to put the same main dish on more than one card with different sides. Make sure you add the ingredients to the back for the side dishes.

Now, sit down and look at a calendar. Write down one meal for each day. I always found it helpful to add in one YOYO night (You’re On Your Own)instead of an only. This allows for unexpected things like a night you were just meeting with friends briefly, but then stayed out and did dinner together – or a night you go to a wives function and he is home to fend for himself. And if you need an only meal, there's bound to be something you can make hanging around.

If you use the entire week, great. But it isn’t in stone and you can be flexible. And best of all, you already know what to do with the leftovers!

Any other leftovers (from casserole or such) can be used for lunches.

You can do this by the week, 2 weeks, or month and shop accordingly. Use the backs of the cards to make out your shopping list.

As for shopping, if you go infrequently, remember the “law of the harvest” used by people in generations past. When the harvest is new (you’ve just gone shopping) you eat fresh. As you get farther from the harvest, you eat more preserved food (frozen or canned). This prevents spoilage of food that you would have to throw away. Only you know if you can eat all the strawberries you buy before they begin to grow hair – only you can know exactly how to do this, but this is way that might look in the above week:
You shop on Saturday - fresh meat for Sunday, fresh salad greens on Monday, Tuesday is leftover (already cooked) Wednesday could be a canned ham or one of those steaks that is sealed with a date way past this date, Thursday is frozen chicken, Friday is frozen fish (or canned tuna in a casserole) Saturday is the leftover cooked chicken. You’d begin the week with fresh fruit and end it with canned pears, or something like that.

This system worked well for me for 30 years as an Army wife.

Anam Cara said...
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Anam Cara said...
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Anam Cara said...

sorry about all those deletes - I somehow posted multiple times!