I checked out a booked called Saving Dinner from library. She provided a whole year of weekly dinner meals and the shopping list to match it. The meals changed a bit with the season.
Do any of you make weekly menus/ shopping lists, and use them over and over again?
I shop every 2 weeks (at payday) and plan every dinner meal for that 2 weeks. I drive myself crazy doing this! I procrastinate so badly on it that sometimes we have nothing to eat in the house and we start ordering pizza or stopping at the more expensive store on the way home dinner. Total budget busters.
I thought why not make some premade weekly menus. The only issue I see is 1) not wanting to eat some of the things on that weeks list 2) wanting to use up some expiring foods.
I think those 2 things keep me stuck in making a new list each time I shop. Even though I loathe it.
Thanks for your thoughts :-)
I find myself doing much of the same. I'm wondering about the idea of using up leftovers, expiring foods for lunches so that the dinner plan can stay as set.
I do the 2 week menu planning
thing and recommend it. However, I don't usually assign a specific night to a specific recipe and also try to build up a freezer stash to absorb hectic nights. I do tend to make the same things--especially the easy stuff like burgers or frozen pasta.
You can meal plan and
build in flexibility. Flexibility comes from having a stocked pantry/freezer so I think it's necessary to both stockpile and meal plan for optimum results. If you have stuff in your pantry that you need to 'use up' and that presents a barrier to effective meal planning, then that means you may not be stocking what you eat.
Some people like to do a 'type' of food each night and menu plan around that (i.e. Mexican night, Italian night, American Classics night, Asian night etc...).
What I do is...
-Never assign a specific day to a meal, but I do have a plan for the days where it is essential that dinner be done by xyz time to fit our schedule (such as the nights I work). This way, about 60% of the time, I cook what we're in the mood for from the current 2 week menu.
-Try to have enough staples on hand that I can completely deviate from the plan if I need/want to.
-Make stuff anyway even if I'm not in the mood with the idea that I can feed it to the freezer. Usually once I make it, I'm interested in eating it, but if not I stash it for some other time and make grilled cheese or something.
-Live by the rule that take out is for when we're sick or there's been some kind of schedule emergency. And look for take out first in my freezer.
-Keep a queue of new recipes to try and try one new recipe a cooking cycle or per week to keep things interesting and introduce new flavors.
I had started a thread and just added my list to it. It's about using Master Lists.
For me, having a master list of mains is the key for my meal planning. Violet gave some good points and I'll reiterate that flexibility is key for meal planning. You will have unexpected things come up and you need to build into your meal planning, a night where you're not doing 30 minutes of prep. That means that part of your meal planning is having quick things on hand. That's "feed the freezer" meals for us. Or having everything for "breakfast for supper" (another quick one). That might mean some extra work at some point ahead of time.
The other thing to remember is that you don't have to be exact with your recipes. If it calls for shallots and you have scallions instead, it's okay to substitute. Or if it calls for haddock and you just have tilapia, that's fine, too. Even spices don't have to be precise to a recipe.
As Violet mentioned, probably the most key element of menu planning is having a well-stocked pantry that allows you to make anything on your master list. I don't shop loss leaders except to stock up on basic items that I use all the time. I don't buy the processed food, which is what most grocery sales are, and I buy my meat by the animal (side of beef, side of pork, entire lamb, entire chickens) except for chicken breasts. Those I get from loss leaders. A large freezer can be a real boon to meal planning.
I meal plan a month in advance and while I don't stick to it exactly every single day, it gives me a framework to work within and makes "thinking" about dinner so much easier. (My family gets involved in the planning, too, btw.)
I have been feeling really stuck lately with meals, and making repetitive meals so I just made myself a month long list of foods. And I broke them down into the previous mentioned catagories....... I'll post it.
1) Italian sausage tortillini soup
2) shrimp penne alfredo
4) spaghetti & meatsauce
5) homemade mac n cheese
3) crockpot tortilla soup
4) salsa chicken cassarole
5) beef tostadas
2) chicken/roast taters/peas
3) steak/mashed taters/green beans
1) coconut curry chicken
2) soba noodles w/chicken
3) Pork Gyoza
4) Crockpot spare ribs
5) pork fried rice
1) meatloaf/mash taters/broc
3) fried chicken/fries/corn
4) pulled pork/buns/slaw
1) spinach red lentil & bean curry
2) greek pasta w/tomato & black beans
3) vegetarian stuffed peppers
4) veggie quiche
5) portobello mushroom burgers
I'll grab one thing from each list for my weeks worth of groceries (and try to buy things in bulk from the sale flyers. It helps to know how much of each I need for the month.) And I allow myself one day a week to just make something up on the fly or alott for going out.