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Meal Planning

Posted by on Feb. 8, 2012 at 9:37 AM
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Meal Planning

     One the other areas that I find to be important to a well managed home is planned meals.  I have really disliked not knowing what I was going to make my family to eat until the last minute.  Maybe because I have such a big family that meal time is a big deal.  My family consumes a lot of food at a meal and I need to prepared for this so that I can use my resources (time, food and money) to the best of my ability.  I have found that having my meals planned and knowing what I was serving each day of the week has made meal time so much easier.  I still have days where I forget to take something out of the freezer or I even have weeks where I seem to be able to only plan meals about a day or two ahead.  But I never enjoy this and will sit down and come up with a meal plan. 

     Menu planning has many advantages.  You can have very specific grocery shopping lists and this helps to avoid impulse buying.  Also how many times have you seen something at the grocery store and come up with a great brainstorm of what you could do with it only to come home, put it in a cupboard and forget exactly why you bought it weeks later.  Also menu planning helps you to get an idea of what types of foods you eat on a regular basis and what kinds of food to stock in your pantry.  You can then look for sale items of your commonly used items and then be able to stock up knowing that you will use them.  It also reduces chaos.  To me having a bunch of hungry grumpy children under foot while I am trying to figure out what we are going to eat is chaos.  I don’t like living like that :) so I am determined that as much as possible I will be prepared.  Like anyone else I have my times when I just don’t get my act together and end up with no plan for an evening.  However because I have spent so much time working on this area of home management I can always find something in the freezer, even just a meal starter like a bag of cooked beans that I can make something out of for my family to eat.  Or something in pantry or a combination of both places and come up with a meal.  There have been times when this happens and I get a new inspiration and a new recipe as well!  But I always get right back to meal planning because this makes life flow so much better. 

There are lots of menu planning ideas and I will share some that I have used and what works well for me.  Sometimes it comes back to a matter of timing in our life.  We may never find the “perfect” menu planning system.  Our lives may be at different places at different times and coming up with a permanent menu plan is not practical.  I remember being near the end of my pregnancy with my 8th baby, Isaac.  I was very tired and exhausted and just thinking about meal time was a chore.  So I came up with a 7 day menu and we ate that very same menu each week for several weeks.  It was not real fun but it was easy and it was just what I needed at the time.  I did not have to think about anything in the kitchen. I just new spaghetti was on Monday night and Meatloaf was on Thursday.  But afterwards when I did have more strength to handle my kitchen duties again I began to be more creative and add variety again.  So any menu planning ideas I present here are for the purpose of giving you ideas to help you have a well managed home!

One of the easiest meal plans for me to use was my 5 week plan.  I planned 5 different meals for each week for 5 weeks and then rotated this menu.  This plan leaves one night for leftovers and a second night to try out new recipes or to have cooks choice or fend for yourself night.  I had gotten away from this when we were making some major changes in our diet and I was not using some of the old favorite recipes any more and was trying out new recipes hoping to find new favorites and learning how to adjust some of my other menus to healthier options.  Well it has been almost a year now and I have come up with my new 5 week menu plan.   If you try this plan you can adapt it to fit your families favorite meals.   I would like to encourage you to plan a menu, if not 5 weeks just plan one week at a time and see if this does not make your life a little easier to manage.

by on Feb. 8, 2012 at 9:37 AM
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by on Feb. 8, 2012 at 9:55 AM

I plan out our meals, menu, shopping and so on. I made a list of my families favorite meals, meals I have cooked over the years, and new recipes. I take this list and break it down into 2 week cycles. We get paid every 2 weeks this is why I do 2 weeks at a time.

I then write on the calendar what meal will be made that day. Make my shopping list, pull coupons and hit the stores. I shop at 3 different stores to get the most bang for my buck.

We go about 6 weeks without repeating meals UNLESS it is a SUPER favorite and the guys want it more often. Like our chicken and noodles. We have that every other week without fail :-)

Planning cuts down on waste and over spending and extra trips to the store.

by Member on Feb. 8, 2012 at 10:34 AM

I guess i am just a computer freak......

the first thing i usually do in the mornings with my coffee is check everything online.  then get to work on the books....everything i do is on excel so of course my menu is also.  i have a column for each week and do 2 weeks.  and i have several other columns favorite foods.  and i have them in small groups....then i just copy and paste  what i want to have on what day....then make my grocery list form that.  then as we have those meals i delete them off the spreadsheet so i know i do not have the ingredients to those meals. 

now that we are not a family of 7 anymore i have had to learn to cook small.  and i am not real picky on what night we eat what.  I just kind of need that organization.  i used to leave a few days blank for left overs....eating out etc...but i dont now..i plan a meal then if it changes or i dont get to the store i have a back up.

a little OCD ya think??

by Nancy on Feb. 8, 2012 at 10:40 AM

I hate to cook so I see no reason to plan meals.  When I lived alone, I had been known to have a popsicle for dinner because it didn't require cooking.  My son and daughter in law do most of the cooking and rarely plan more than a few hours in advance. 

by on Feb. 8, 2012 at 1:49 PM

I am actually a planner in all aspects of life, including meals.  I shop for food often and always check what we need and make sure there is all types of food on hand for meals.  My problem is that my husband is a busy executive whose company is going  through a huge financial restructuring right now, so he is going  to the office usually six days a week, and during the week, it is common for him to arrive home at 10 PM.  He keeps frozen meals in the freezer in the lunchroom at his workplace so he doesn't have to go out and grab something when he is working late.   Even when his job is just the usual, he is still always extremely busy, so I never know if he is going to be home, until he lets me know around 5 PM.   So, it is just my daughter and I, so we have different meals when it is the two of us.   I have suggested to DH that he take the leftovers he didn't come home to eat, for lunch at work the next day, but he doesn't like leftovers and always takes a sandwich.  My daughter goes to a nearby college and either takes something from home to eat or eats in the food court at the college.    Soooo... I guess what I am saying is, I would menu plan if I could, but there are these other factors beyond my control.  

by Mary Ann on Feb. 8, 2012 at 2:03 PM

Hmmmmm in most other aspects, I am organized.  Not so much when it comes to meal planning.  I usually only have to plan for every other night because with just the two of us, we sometimes eat leftovers the second night.  I have never learned how to cook for two.  I do keep a well stocked pantry and freezer, so the panning sometimes begin over breakfast coffee that morning.  The conversation going "what sounds good for dinner?" with the response being "I don't care" and me saying I'll check and see if we have any".   I try very hard not to serve the same thing very often and do try a lot of new recipes from various places, magazines, the internet and occasionally the cooking channels.  Holiday meals and company dinners are usually well organized and planned.

by Lisa on Feb. 8, 2012 at 2:06 PM

I should meal plan but I don't. I just don't have the energy too think that far ahead lots of days. I have a house full of picky eaters, some of us have sensitivities to certain food textures and there are some days when nothing sounds appetizing for any of us.

by Becky on Feb. 8, 2012 at 2:22 PM

I have to confess that I haven't read your entire post, but it's funny you should post this today of all days!

About 3 weeks ago, my daughter made herself a "menu board" - very simple - a picture frame, a pretty scrap book paper to fit the frame, and a little "blurb" written in Word.  "Weekly Menu" at the top, followed by lined weekdays, and a cute little picture at the bottom.  She attached a dry erase marker to the frame, and each week writes down what the dinner time meals will be.  Great idea!!!

However, yesterday she posted on facebook, "Hmmmm, what to make for dinner?"  A couple of her friends made suggestions.  I posted, "What does it say on your menu board?!???!??"  Turns out she hadn't filled it out this week.  Last night on her blog, she wrote about the facebook "conversation", and she gave step by step "instructions" on how to make a menu board.  And she thanked me for reminding her to use it!!!! 

by on Feb. 8, 2012 at 2:24 PM

I have me, myself and I to cook for, my meals are never plans.

by on Feb. 8, 2012 at 3:04 PM

Its just me and dh my meal planning is like this, " honey what do you want for dinner tonight" that is how we do it, much different when there are no little ones at home anymore

by on Feb. 8, 2012 at 3:15 PM
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Quoting gmadiane:

Its just me and dh my meal planning is like this, " honey what do you want for dinner tonight" that is how we do it, much different when there are no little ones at home anymore

My meal planning is open the fridge, then go to the cupboards and check them out.  I'm just not a "planner" 

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