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Do you all plan your dinners in advance?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Do you all plan your dinners in advance? Every evening it is the same question for us. "What should we have for dinner tonight?" Dh gets home from work around 5:30/6:00, the kids and I are hungry and tired, I've not even had a minute to think about dinner much less get started on a meal.

Last night (while the pizza delivery man was on his way) we actually had a moment to plan a menu for the rest of the week. I went shopping today and got everything we will need until Friday. It worked well for tonight at least. I still wasn't able to do any prep work until dh got home, but at least I knew what we were going to eat.

I would love to hear from you what your stratagies are. We need help!

Thank you.
post #2 of 9
We are in our second week of meal-planning and pre-shopping. Our past dinner plans often sounded like yours and we ate out A LOT. Both of us are starting to pudge out (and for me it wasn't just baby!) and decided we needed to buckle down and start planning ahead like most everyone else.

We have a whole household management system that we started. Whomever cooks also shops for the week, cleans the living room and Violet's room. Whomever didn't cook cleans the kitchen, does laundry, cleans the bathroom and our room.

So far it is magical. Our stress levels have decreased dramatically, the house is managable and we can enjoy saving money as well.

I love it! I'm sold!
post #3 of 9
I have to plan all of our meals in advance. (I do all the cooking and shopping since I don't work.) It's the only way we can stick to the budget and eat nutricious food. When I was working, I did a lot of freezer meals on the weekends, and I'll probably start again after my baby is born. (Actually, I plan on stocking the freezer before I have the baby so that I won't have to cook those first few weeks.) There are lots of books about freezer cooking. Most of them have recipes that aren't too healthy, but they're good to give you ideas about the types of food that freeze well. For example, if there's a recipe for lasagna that includes sausage and two pounds of cheese, I just assume that all lasagna freezes well and substitute my own recipe with lots of veggies and less cheese.
post #4 of 9
that sounds like an excellent idea indie!
post #5 of 9
We make very serious attempts to plan our meals ahead. We try to do it on Saturday afternoons while the little guy takes a nap since we tend to do our shopping on Sundays. We even go so far as to put a menu up on the bulletin board in the kitchen. Whoever gets home first starts the dinner. It all works out for the most part when we actively ractice our meal planning. Sometimes we will switch meals, but the nice thing we can be sure of is that we always have the materials on hand to make anything on the menu on any given day. There are just some weekends where the time goes by and no planning has taken place and we are left to fend on a daily basis.

On a side note, we keep our pantry (read: shelving in the basement)stocked with essentials that don't go bad or at least don't go bad until opened. So we always have broth, beans, lentils, applesauce, dried fruit, sugar, flour, cooking oil, pasta, cans of tomato sauce, tomato puree, diced tomatoes, few instant things for the days when we don't want to really cook much of anything, and other things I can't quite remember. We also keep our freezer, which is small, stocked with frozen things that we have made, leftover sauces or half of the can of something that we didn't use completely. That way we don't have to throw anything away and we don't have to open an entire 12 oz can of something when we really only need 1/2 cup. When we make out our shopping list, we always check the larder and see what we need to replace. If one of our essentials is on sale, we buy way more than we really need so that we can save a little money in the future.
post #6 of 9
wow you all have such wonderful ideas!
Amy, that is a great idea to have frozen meals on hand for after the baby comes. I did that too and it was a life saver! Be sure you put some in single serving sizes so you can have a good hot lunch for those days nothing else will do
indie! I am so glad things are running smoothly for you

I do many of the things mentioned above. We plan our meals in 2 week blocks starting with what we have on hand and what is on sale (loss leaders on the front and back pages).
We also freeze leftovers in ziploc bags (they thaw faster than in a block of tupperware) in recipie sized servings. For example, if we have a roasted chicken with gravy as a main dish one night, the left overs get packed in 2 cup bags...shredded or chopped when we clean up. the gravy goes in the freezer too. then we have 2 more dinners......we can make, for example, chicken broccoli casserole with the chicken and gravy, and chicken enchaladas out of the rest.
buying your staples in bulk when they are on sale is something else we do, both to save money and have quick meals on hand all the time
today i sauteed and froze about 5 lbs of peppers i got at the close of the local market for soooooo cheap! now we have them in one cup servings, ready for adding to sauces, eggs, or whatever.
post #7 of 9
I do try to plan meals weekly - it is the absolute best way to always have the ingredients on hand, not stress about what to make, and to minimize waste! When I make a weekly menu, I plan about 5 dinners, incorporating leftovers, shop for all the ingredients, and then decide that morning or afternoon which one to make, depending on what I feel like or how the day is going. I don't like to say Tues is pasta or something like that, because I may not feel like pasta on Tues. But to have 5 complete dinners to choose from on any day is fantastic. I only do 5 because realistically we end up not cooking dinner about twice a week - we end up at our parent's house, we go do something after work in the evening and grab a burrito, etc. If I plan for 7 meals, something goes to waste.

I cannot recommend enough doing weekly meal planning. The rest of my house may be in chaos, but at least I can get a yummy healthy dinner on the table without stress.
post #8 of 9
We have been planning meals for at least 3 years now to help save money. It works great but sometimes we end up eating the same thing every 3 weeks or so. Every saturday or sunday we sit down with our cookbooks and see what looks good to us for that week and do all the shopping that day.
Since I am staying home, I try to do some prep during nap times. My dh hasn't mastered cooking with child around yet. But I have no doubt he will.

Planning meals has worked great for us!!!!! We usually have 1 mexican, asian, meat, tofu, BBQ meal a week.

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
thanks for your ideas. meal planning worked for us so well this week. we are excited about making a menu for next week. i think the best part for me is having all the grocery shopping done and knowing that i have all the stuff.

i hope we stick with this.
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