Category Archives: Meal Planning
Welcome to week #2 of my menu planning adventures!
Why yes, That is the same list as last time minus the top item. And yes, I was lazy and just stuck a sticky note over the date. I told you this was simple people! Any questions?
Phew! Is it Tuesday already? Geesh! This week is getting away from me!
As a reminder, here’s my list from last week:
And here’s what we really did:
Monday – I had pizza at work and D made french toast for himself
Tuesday – I had pizza at work and D had his left over Pork Chops
Wednesday – I had my left over Pork Chops and D has pizza from work
Thursday – We both had pizza from work
Friday – We both had sandwiches from work
Saturday – We had friends over and my bestie and I made roast
Sunday – Leftovers from the roast
And, here’s my eureka moment on menu planning.
So there ya go. I’m ok with the deviations. This week we had a LOT of food at work, and I like to take advantage of the free meals when I get the chance. I think the most telling thing about this week has been the calm I feel. I haven’t been stressed out if I’m not 100% on plan. I just pick up where I was, and that has made a ton of difference! I also didn’t freak when my bestie called and wanted to do something for dinner Saturday. No, beef roast with potato and carrot was not on the menu list… but having her and her boyfriend over was a fun special occasion.
Prepare yourself for awesomeness…
And that’s that.
I’m no good at meal planning. There’s tons of things that go wrong and I just don’t handle it well.
1) Tuesday’s meal makes enough for leftovers. Now I’m stuck. Do I skip Wednesday? Do I push back Wednesday? Do I push back all of them, but then that throws off the future weeks I planned and the groceries for Wednesday will inevitably go bad. Or do I keep the leftovers in the fridge until they go bad?
2) Wednesday’s meal is supposed to be leftovers from Tuesday, but there’s not enough. Now what? We can push up each meal a night, but then what do we eat Sunday? Or do I need to buy groceries early? Or will we just end up eating canned beans with a fork that night?
3) Something comes up Thursday night. We aren’t home for dinner. See #1 for my freak out.
4) We were supposed to eat at a friend’s house Friday, but they cancelled at the last minute. See #2 for my freak out.
5) Tak #1-#4 and put them in the same week! We’re wasting tons of food and money here! And I’m more stressed out than if I didn’t have a plan!
Do you see my problem here? I think it’s the calendar, or the schedule. It just throws me off. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a schedule… but I was thinking the other night this might be a good place for a list.
What if, instead of scheduling my meals, I made a list of the meals I want to have in the order I want to have them. Yes, I get this is pretty much the same thing but follow me here.
So we go from this:
See what I did there? It’s so simple, but in my head it’s so pivotal! So Thursday night we have fried rice again… that’s not a problem. We eat the meal until it’s gone, and then I make the next.
If the end of the week comes and we stopped at Breaded Chicken… that becomes the top of my list for next week.
I know this isn’t really original. Everything I’m talking about here is part of other menu plan systems. The thing that makes the difference for me is taking away the day association. I’m going to eat these meals, in this order. If other things come up, I know where to pick back up.
What, you were expecting something more profound? Hehe!
Do you think I could do meal-planning? I mean seriously?
I know I’ve done posts and posts on it (oops! Did I just confess to falling off that wagon?), but do you think I really could? I think a lot has to do with cooking ahead. For example, I cooked lots of carrots… and now I have lots of carrots in the freezer… for months!
If I planned meals, I’d use the carrots.
I went to the grocery store Sunday. We were out of food. No eggs, no bread, no veggies, very little meat, no soups, nothing. Apparently family emergency followed by a week at the beach do not add up to an organized/useful kitchen!
So I bought veggies (corn and green beans). I bought potatoes. I bought cream of chicken & cream of mushroom soups. I bought eggs. I bought onions. And now I’m cooking again.
Sunday night we had baked potatoes. I sliced them and put garlic/olive oil on them before “baking” them in the microwave. The recipe called for sliced garlic and I had diced (minced?). I think next time I’ll use fresh so I can slice it, but it was still pretty good.
I don’t know what to call last night’s dinner. I used pre-cooked frozen rice, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of black beans, a chicken breast, a red onion and some garlic. I mixed the garlic/onion/tomatoes and poured it on top of the chicken to cook. Then I zapped the beans & rice. I layered them all pretty on the plate – but the leftovers were all mixed together and I think they were even better (something about the juices maybe?)! My hubby and I had these for lunch today and the little man had it for dinner. Success!
Tonight I’m going to make chicken fried rice. I’ll make a ton of it so that we can have it for lunch and what not. It looks pretty easy and I’ve never made it before, so we’ll see.
Friday I plan on making breakfast sandwiches for the family. I have to wait until Friday because I need cheese, sausage and foil and my food envelope is empty.
Anyway, I want to be a good steward of my money. We’ve been living off barely any groceries lately. I scrape together what I can, but it’s a little ridiculous. The money that I save goes to fast food – there’s some logic for you! So I’m vowing to be better about it, and I’m thinking that meal planning could help. I’m also thinking I’ve tried that it didn’t work I quit (yes, ran together like that, with no punctuation).
things to ponder…
Anyway, I dont’ have a ton of time to take on a new challenge right now. I’m still working Christmas presents (I have a tutorial half-done for y’all!), and we just re-organized our office. I’m also trying to get a handle on my cleaning because August my house turned into a junk yard. My plants are still alive, but I’m not sure how because I’m not watering them. I’m not running. I’m not reading my bible at night. And I’m not waking up on time in the morning.
Sounds like a great time for a new project, yea?
*sigh* I’ll figure it out. Anyway, I’m here. I’m working on a tutorial for you. And I’m semi-contemplating meal planning again.
Ooo! Another thought! I need to work on cleaning, and getting my days right, and getting things done, and cooking. Maybe I should blog about that. Instead of trying to come up with projects, or craft time, maybe I should do what needs to be done and talk about how I do it. I have a great money-tracking system I use! I have great routines (which I’m not currently doing) that have worked great for me! Maybe I could combine my need-to with my want-to, and get back to blogging?
Good morning! My recipe post is also a bit behind schedule. Things are rough right now as your prayers are appreciated. I hope to get the post up this weekend, but please bear with me as my family deals with illness.
First of all, I just wanted to say that yesterday was a hard day for me. I’m coming to terms with some family issues (medical) that I’ve been hiding from and it’s not so fun. I would appreciate prayers for my family if you don’t mind. Prayers for healing and prayers to trust Him. I know that He knows what He’s doing, and that He has a plan. But there are some things you just don’t want to (or aren’t ready to) let go of.
Now on to my delayed post on menu planning!
First things first: am I doing it?
I admit it’s the first week (and the third day…) but this is a record for me! I know what I’m eating tonight. And let me tell you how great it was knowing what we were eating yesterday. I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t want to cook. I didn’t want to do anything. But the meat was thawed, the veggies were thawed (grilled and frozen previously), the tortillas were thawed (purchased in bulk and frozen previously) and I had my seasoning all mixed up (I keep a “Mexican” spice mix ready at all times because we love our Mexican food)! So, fairly numb, I heated a pan, put in the chicken, seasoned it. I heated up the veggies and tortillas in the microwave. In less than 15 minutes I had fajitas for my husband and I, on an evening when I could have easily just not eaten. I’m grateful for that. So again, I know it’s the beginning (I haven’t even made it a week), but so far I’m thinking there is something to this meal planning.
So here’s what I did. I modified the plan from Simple Mom to fit our family’s needs.
Monday – Mexican
Tuesday – Italian
Wednesday – homemade pizza
Thursday – easy/leftovers
Friday – crock pot
Saturday – something
Sunday – easy/leftovers
I sat down and made a list of meals that fall under each category. We have lots of recipes that we love, but I tend to not think of. With my list of meals in front of me, and my pantry/freezer lists beside me, I was quickly able to piece together a 2-week plan.
(please don’t judge the picture, my super-wonderfuly-fabulous husband just took it and sent it to me since I’m not at home – Thanks Derek!)
So is anyone else feeling inspired? Or what about needing some inspiration? Have you had a big *aha* moment where meal planning really kept you going? Please share!
Also, I know I’m eluding to some heavy stuff without giving a lot of information. Please forgive me for not going in to more detail. This blog is new to me, and while I want to be as open as possible with people, there are some things I’m not quite ready to share. I appreciate your understanding.
Let me start out by saying, I don’t want to write this entry.
I don’t want to meal plan.
I don’t wanna! I don’t wanna! I don’t wanna!
Ok, someone ask me why I don’t wanna… seriously, ask!
I don’t know.
I have no clue why I am so adverse to meal planning – but I am. In the spirit of reorganizing my kitchen and life therein, I am going to give this a shot. Because this is all new to me, I’m still in the research process. I don’t want to dive in head first here – that might be too productive. So first, let me share some inspiration with you and some great how-tos I found.
Believe it or not, this is not the first time I’ve looked in to meal planning. The last time I did I saved these links, so I figured it was appropriate to kick off my linkies with them:
The Coupon Project – list of sale cycles for most grocery stores (great for looking ahead and seeing what may be coming on sale soon)
Org Junkie: Recipe Index Round-Up – a great linkie party full of recipe index pages, which each link to many more recipes (for when you just don’t know what to make)
Ask Anna: Meal Planning – very detailed how-to for setting up a system
Econobusters: Menu Planning – an ebook for planning menus monthly
Next, instead of making a list of links (which so many people have done), I’m going to link to Laura, who has already created one! It’s extensive and we can be thankful that this lovely lady has done the work for us!
Org Junkie: Menu Planning Resources – Laura has such a great tool here! I’m specifically talking about the helper site (about half way down), but she also lists resources for recipes, couponing and special diets.
The last thing I want to show you, is probably the most helpful for me. These ladies have made the plans, and are sharing them with the world (FOR FREE)!
Simple Mom: Menu Planning Resources – This is the one I am leaning toward following. I love her idea of having set genres per day, and then making her meals to match.
Menus 4 Moms: Meal Planning – Links to multiple meal plans for different lifestyles.
Maybe Hopefully reading all of these great resources will help me turn my “I don’t wanna” into a “I’m gonna!” (wow that was cheesy, yea?)
So what about you? Do you meal plan? Have you tried it and failed? Have you never tried because you’re super super stubborn and silly about the whole thing? No, I guess that’s just me! Any tips, tricks or resources for me to check out?
On Monday I’ll be posting the menu planning system I decided to go with, so it looks like it’s nose in the books for me for the weekend! Hope everyone has a great one!
Do you like lists? I do! Do you like lists in your kitchen? Yep, I do too! I’m specifically talking about the lists I use to keep my food organized (and my budget under control). The oldest member of my kitchen list family is the grocery list (shocker right?). I am a big coupon-er, so I tend to shop in weird ways. I go grocery shopping when I’m home on Friday, and coupon shopping on Sunday. I’ll save the difference between the two for another day, but suffice it to say that grocery shopping is a very separate thing for me.
I, like many other people, keep a running list of what I need to pick up at the grocery store. As we run out of things, I add it to the list. I know, this is nothing new to anyone, but I do have a nifty secret I’d like to share!
I keep a master grocery list of EVERYTHING I regularly purchase. This includes toilet paper, paper towels, dishwasher detergent, flour, sugar, meat, etc. About once a month (this is not clockwork people), I take my list and go through the house. If we have it, and don’t need more, I check it off the list. At the end of my inventory, anything not crossed off goes on to the regular shopping list.
I find that, although I intend to always add an item to the list when it is used up, I don’t. Apparently I’m too busy to take those .5 seconds and save myself future heartache. So instead of teaching myself to be diligent in writing down what I use, I’ve found an effective way to make up for my laziness!
So that’s list #1 (on going grocery list) and list #2 (regular purchases list). Lists #3 and #4 are newer to me. These are my inventory lists. I keep a pantry inventory and a freezer inventory. They both hang on the fridge and allow me to see, at a glance, what we have.
Derek – what’s for dinner?
Me – I’m not sure dear. Let me check the refrigerator and see if we have any leftover!
*checks fridge and there are no leftovers*
Me – Oh dear. It looks like I’ll have to cook something! Let’s see what we can have!
*scans the lists and quickly decides on a meal*
*prepares said meal for a happy husband*
Well, I said *something* like this. hehe! But you get the idea!
Even if I’m not planned well ahead of time, I’m able to quickly see that we have pasta, tomato sauce and ground beef – let’s have spaghetti. Or we have tilapia and rice (cooked and frozen) – let’s have that. Or we have ground beef and hamburger buns – let’s grill burgers! See how that goes? So simple!
So that’s it. 4 simple lists that make my life so much easier!
Do you use lists in your kitchen? I’d love to hear what makes your life easier! I’m still working on the meal planning thing, but I figure this is a step in the right direction!
As a reminder, the next step on my Kitchen PoA is to completely reorganize the cabinets and purge purge purge!
See you then!
>Why I don’t do it:
I HATE IT! I HATE IT! I HATE IT!
Ok, no really, I don’t. I just think I do. I have no good reason not to meal plan. I see the success of so many people. I’m a rational person, and I can see that starting to meal plan now will help so much when my little one is not so little anymore. I also see the merit in helping my husband. He gets off work 2 hours before me. He feeds the little man before I get home. I know that having a plan in place (or even pre-cooked) would help him imensly! OO! What if I cook when I get home, and make enough for 3 people (even though the smallest one is in bed). Then the leftovers for that will be his dinner with Daddy the next day! Perfect! So why don’t I meal plan? I don’t know…
Today I’m reading over on Ask Anna Moseley. When I say I’m reading somewhere, let me explain what that means. It means that someone, somewhere linked to her. Within her blog she linked to other posts she had done. At the bottome of those blog posts were links with pretty pictures that piqued my interest. I can spend hours on a new blog just link-hopping!
The page I ended on is about meal planning. *sigh* Why does everyone do this? One thing that has separated this post from the 9 bajillion other posts I have read on meal planning, is that she seems to think like me. She’s got a list (L-O-V-E) with paragraphs explaining each thing (L-O-V-E)! Oh! And she doesn’t plan meals for specific days! Ok, maybe that’s the true reason I’m singing her praises. One of my anti-meal-plan go-tos is that I don’t know today (Wednesday) what I want to have next Thursday. Sure, I’ll be home. But how do I know I’ll want mexican vs italian? or what about Chinese? Or maybe I just want a good ol’ fashioned meat loaf!
Anyway, Anna breaks things down into 8 easy steps!
1) Get your recipes accessible. This is a hard one for me. I have TONS of cook books… but I don’t actually cook out of them. I also have tons of meals I’ve made just playing around… but I don’t remember how I made them. Then I have family/friend recipes… but I can’t find them. Oh! And I have an entire drawer in my kitchen dedicated to all of this crap!
I’ve never given this a lot of thought, but it makes absolutely zero sense! Why do I have an unorganized junk drawer of recipes I never use, when I could have a much simpler, usable system. So here’s my thoughts. I want to make recipe rings. You know, the little open/close rings from the office supply store? Well I want to put my recipes on index cards and punch them. Then keep them on the ring. That will free up SOOOOOOO much space in my drawer! Ack!
I think I’ll do one for cooking and one for baking. If you know me at all, you know I bake A LOT. And I’d like to keep those separate.
Also, if I keep with this meal planning thing, I can remove the recipe cards for the meals I’m planning, then just put them back when I’m done with them. If I don’t meal plan, it’ll still be convenient to have them there!
2) Get a meal calendar. Ok, as I said above, this is usually where you’ll lose me. I don’t know what I want to eat next week. I don’t know what I want to eat tomorrow. In fact, if I have a snack this evening, I don’t know what I’m going to want for that either! So how am I supposed to use a calendar? I know I know! But stay with me please… we’ll get there!
3) Use a shopping list. Check! well sorta… See, I used to be GREAT about using a shopping list… but then I started couponing. Then I stopped using a shopping list and started using the couponing list. The problem is that, sometimes I need something that’s not 50% or more off! In which case, I don’t have it written down.
This shouldn’t be hard for me though. I think the answer is to go back to having 2 shopping lists. The first one being my meal-plan/keep stocked at all times list. The second being my couponing list. If I keep a running list of everything I WANT in my house, it’s easy to just cross off what I don’t have to buy that particular day. Then I can add bonus things I need for specific recipes as well.
4) Count out the meals you need for that pay period. This is pretty easy for me. My dear husband and I work at the same place so we get paid on the same day. Every other Friday is payday in our house! Woo hoo!
So there are always 14 days of meals. It breaks down to (for each pay period) 14 dinners (for 3), 18 breakfasts (for 1) at work, 2 breakfasts (for 1) at home, 4 breakfasts (for 3) at home, 18 lunches (for 1) at work, 2 lunches (for 1) at home, and 2 lunches (for 3) at home. If you’re doing the math, you’ll know I’m missing 2 lunches… those are SUnday at we go out to eat with the in-laws.
5) Go through the recipes and pull the number you need.
6) Make your shopping list.
7) Write the recipes on the calender. WHAT?! WAIT! BUT YOU SAID… I know I know! But here I’m going to quote directly from Ms. Anna herself.
See! I told you I love her!
8) Keep it all together. Basically, once you’ve gotten all organized, don’t keep it all over the house. Keep it close together where you can easily access it all.