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Completely new to meal planning, tips needed!

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

 

I have a 4 year old DS and a full time working hubby.

DS is homeschooled so my days are very busy, as hubby is at work all day which means I do the chores as well as the majority of activities with DS.

 

I *need* routine and structure or else I get very irritable, DS is in a good routine currently - he sleeps through from 7pm til 7am which is lovely but then obviously from 7am til 7pm our days are so busy and DS doesn't nap at all.

 

I have never been good with meal planning. I cook with whatever we happen to have available, and i'm starting to realise that being so unorganised is costing a lot of time and money i.e. wasting food that doesn't get used, cooking meals from scratch whilst trying to run the home and make sure DS is happy and has enough trips out to socialise etc. So I am determined to change my ways lol!

 

We don't have a massive food budget, but I know we can make our money go a lot further if we'd stop wasting food.

But i'm clueless as to where to even start?

I'm thinking maybe an evening once DS is in bed I could cook and freeze a batch of meals? That way it will save a lot of time during the day that I can spend with DS?

 

Can anyone recommend a book or website for complete beginners at meal planning?! Or do you have any tips?

 

Thankyou xx

 

 

post #2 of 14
Here is what I do for meal planning...

On Sunday, I sit down and decide which recipes I am cooking that week for dinner. I write it out. I use a notebook to track my plan and grocery list. That way I can look back at previous weeks to get ideas. Here is an example.

Sun - Grilled Chicken, Mon - Chicken Tacos, Tue - Salmon, Wed - leftovers, Thu - Spaghetti, Fri - leftovers, Sat - Baked Taters.

I just write a short note about what I am making...I don't list out side salads, veggies because I know what I usually make as a side with each main. I don't plan for breakfast (otameal and fruit) or lunches (usually sandwiches, soups, salads, nothing fancy).

I then write up my grocery list based on what I am cooking. I will, at that time, check for staple ingredients (onions, pasta, spices, etc to make sure we still have enough - if I am running out I might put a note to myself in my planning book). I put other "normal" (weekly) items on the list - milk, fruit, snack veggies, bread, yogurt.

I set up this system myself because it made sense to me. It may not work for you. Good luck in setting something up. Life is so much easier for me this way!
post #3 of 14

I'd start with a list of meals that your family likes.  Then plan out which of those meals you want on which night.  You can be as involved as you want; planning a month at time, using what you already have in the house, etc.

 

I plan out a month at a time (usually, sometimes it varies) by what we've got in the house.  I only shop sales so I stock up and usually have quite a bit of food that I can plan from.

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

 

Thank you,

 

I'm going to start writing down a list of meals that we like, and also search for new recipes that I think we'll like too. I think I'd love to be organised enough to plan for a whole month, it would make things so much easier!

 

I think my problem is, i'm not very imaginative with left-overs, for example, we had red thai curry a couple of nights ago, and ended up with loads and loads of leftover rice. But I can't decide what to use the left-over rice with? I feel very guilty about it, but I usually end up throwing it away which I know is a complete waste. I need to find some recipes fast!

 

 

post #5 of 14

Leftover rice is my enemy! I use it to make stuffed bell peppers, and then serve it on the side with red sauce, rice pudding (dessert), umm chicken and rice casserole..stir fry..etc. I once accidentally made 4 lbs of rice!!! And had to think of ideas to get rid of it, lol. As far as meal planning and freezing..goulash goes far! I make mine with either canned cooked chicken, cooked ground beef or turkey, and then a lb of elbow macaroni, chopped onion and pepper, and a can of red pasta sauce. It makes a TON, it's cheap, and freezable. 

post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by syn_ack89 View Post

Here is what I do for meal planning...

On Sunday, I sit down and decide which recipes I am cooking that week for dinner. I write it out. I use a notebook to track my plan and grocery list. That way I can look back at previous weeks to get ideas. Here is an example.

Sun - Grilled Chicken, Mon - Chicken Tacos, Tue - Salmon, Wed - leftovers, Thu - Spaghetti, Fri - leftovers, Sat - Baked Taters.

I just write a short note about what I am making...I don't list out side salads, veggies because I know what I usually make as a side with each main. I don't plan for breakfast (otameal and fruit) or lunches (usually sandwiches, soups, salads, nothing fancy).

I then write up my grocery list based on what I am cooking. I will, at that time, check for staple ingredients (onions, pasta, spices, etc to make sure we still have enough - if I am running out I might put a note to myself in my planning book). I put other "normal" (weekly) items on the list - milk, fruit, snack veggies, bread, yogurt.

I set up this system myself because it made sense to me. It may not work for you. Good luck in setting something up. Life is so much easier for me this way!

This is pretty much the same system I use. I put my meal list on one side of the paper & my grocery list on the other. My grocery shopping is much more efficient & I know when I get home from work what to cook. I also make my more time consuming meals on the weekend when I have more help & time.

I used to spend one afternoon doing prep stuff like cooking & freezing my ground turkey, chicken breasts etc. so they toss into my meal during the week quickly but then it really irritated me that I lost a weekend afternoon with dh to save a few minutes each evening so I stopped doing that.
post #7 of 14

Coincidentally, I was recently a speaker at a MOPS meeting regarding this subject.  I am in the process of writing a series on meal planning on my blog starting with how we started, how I do it, and am now on problems that occur.  I think one of the most important factors to consider when meal planning (especially when our kids are old enough to have extracurricular activities) is to consider your family's schedule.  Don't plan elaborate dinners on days you know you will be frazzled (errand day, soccer night, DH's weekly meeting).  And take into consideration how much energy you have to prepare meals (I know I never have motivation on Mondays).  Your crock pot can become your best friend because you can throw everything into it (either at 7 pm and then pop it in the fridge til morning or 7 am while DS is eating breakfast) and then just plug it in at the correct time to let it simmer away for hours.  Sorry, DD needs me, I have more in the blog posts and the series isn't quite done yet. 

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

 

Thanks so much for all these replies - you've given me the motivation to stick it out and not revert back to my old habits!

 

post #9 of 14

we make curries and eat them with rice, just about ANY indian foods go well with rice. rice is also good in soups (i make lemon-rice soup). stuffed cabbage involves a lot of rice. you can make fried rice (it's great with day old rice! just fry the rice, and add anything you've got in the house in it -onions, green onions, shrimp, chicken, potatoes, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, bell pepper, and egg are all favorites in our house)

post #10 of 14

I would check out this groupon like deal.  $15 for 6 months (regular $7/month or $36/6-months) of meal planning services.

The links below can explain it better than me, but you get a weekly e-mail with menu ideas, you check what you like and family size and then they send not only the receipts, but a shopping list!

I have signing up, because I saw some good reviews on these boards here.  Deal expired Friday (5/27) around midnight.

Here is the link for $15 for 6 months of meal planning services at RelishRelish.com:

http://costantino2011.moolala.com/deals/id/3Q2BW6J/relish-meal-planning

 

 Reviews are what sold me.  Here they are:

 

http://www.mothering.com/community/forum/thread/915615/relishrelish-com

 

http://greenandfrugalliving.blogspot.com/2009/11/website-review-relishrelishcom.html

post #11 of 14
Fried rice with leftover rice! Heat it up with some sauteed garlic, scrambled egg and whatever veggies you have on hand - mix in some soy or teriyaki sauce, some chopped cilantro, and you're good to go.

I also plan meals on Sundays. I get out my recipe books and jot down what I'm going to make each day, making my shopping list then while the recipe is at hand. Making and freezing meals in advance is too much of a hassle for me. However, when I make soup or chili, I always make a double batch so I can freeze the rest. That way I have a stash of "emergency" meals in the freezer. On those nights when things have been too crazy, I just defrost, make up some biscuits or cornbread and voila.
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

 

Wow - I have a way to go yet, but one day I hope I can be as organised and efficient! I'm getting there slowly ;) It doesn't help that my hubby is such a good cook, I can't really compete with his imaginative meals - I'm going to have to invest in some good recipe books I think lol!

 

Thank you :)

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amatullah0 View Post

we make curries and eat them with rice, just about ANY indian foods go well with rice. rice is also good in soups (i make lemon-rice soup). stuffed cabbage involves a lot of rice. you can make fried rice (it's great with day old rice! just fry the rice, and add anything you've got in the house in it -onions, green onions, shrimp, chicken, potatoes, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, bell pepper, and egg are all favorites in our house)


Recipe for the lemon rice soup, please?

 

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by syn_ack89 View Post

Here is what I do for meal planning...

On Sunday, I sit down and decide which recipes I am cooking that week for dinner. I write it out. I use a notebook to track my plan and grocery list. That way I can look back at previous weeks to get ideas. Here is an example.

Sun - Grilled Chicken, Mon - Chicken Tacos, Tue - Salmon, Wed - leftovers, Thu - Spaghetti, Fri - leftovers, Sat - Baked Taters.

I just write a short note about what I am making...I don't list out side salads, veggies because I know what I usually make as a side with each main. I don't plan for breakfast (otameal and fruit) or lunches (usually sandwiches, soups, salads, nothing fancy).

I then write up my grocery list based on what I am cooking. I will, at that time, check for staple ingredients (onions, pasta, spices, etc to make sure we still have enough - if I am running out I might put a note to myself in my planning book). I put other "normal" (weekly) items on the list - milk, fruit, snack veggies, bread, yogurt.

I set up this system myself because it made sense to me. It may not work for you. Good luck in setting something up. Life is so much easier for me this way!


We don't plan b-fast (almost always the same - I like my morning routine, cuz I'm so grumpy in the morning) or lunch (usually leftovers of supper the night before). Once or twice a month, depending on when it's needed, I sit down with the bf. He gets the big dry-erase calendar that hangs in the kitchen. I pull out my smart phone with it's grocery list app. We first plan out meals to use up what we already have. If we need something extra for those, it goes on the grocery list. Then we decide what to make for the rest of the month, adding to the grocery list as needed.

 

We have stand-by meals (veggie-spaghetti, meatloaf, veggie pizza w/ cream cheese, etc.) and we try to put in something new each week. We also have two days a week designated as veggie days (no meat or poultry, though fish and cheese could go on those days) and two days a week designated as poultry. We also have one day a week that is designated as soup or salad. This way we are varying our diet and not eating so much red meat (maybe three days a week).

 

The bf (who stays home more than I do) takes care of the meals, with my input. On the weekends, especially Sunday, when he works, I can just look at the calendar to see what we are having. We check it every morning and pull out meat, etc. to thaw, and we often look at the next day's meal to see if beans need soaking or soup needs prepped.

 

I was very resistant to this when I first heard about it, and the bf was resistant when I introduced him to it. But it works SO well, I can't imagine not using it now, and neither can he.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicky2 View Post




Recipe for the lemon rice soup, please?

 



 

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