meal planning? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 09-14-2006, 01:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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i'm having the hardest time with this. i know that looking at the sales, then planning, then shopping sounds like i get it, but it all sound so time consuming, and is, i tried it. the planning part is oh so hard for me. i know there are threads on it, and i've read alot, but does anyone have some good advice for someone who needs it to be simple and easy, due to lack of experience?

When do you shop and for how many days does it cover?
When do you actually right out the meals selected during the planning process?

i am trying to be more organized and this is definately a sore spot for me. it does sound wonderful though.
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#2 of 6 Old 09-14-2006, 10:08 AM
 
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My meal planning is pretty relaxed now. I used to plan for 2 weeks at a time with definite days for each meal.

What I do now: I take a note pad and write down 5 dinners I’d like to have in the coming week. I’ll normally include side dishes ideas at the same time but it can be pretty vague: salmon with rice and greens, fajitas, slow-cooked pork masala with rice, cannelloni and caesar salad. I normally look at the sales flyers while doing this, I don’t necessarily try to get only on-sale items but often it’ll give me ideas. “Oh, blade steak is on sale this week, let’s cook one in the slow cooker with winter veggies, we haven’t had that in ages”, type of thing.

Now the hardest part: Once I have my list of 5 dinners, I make a second list (my shopping list) of what needs to be picked up at the store to make those 5 dinners. Most of the stuff I cook I know off the top off my head what goes in it and I normally know what I have in my fridge and pantry. Sometimes, if I’m making something a little more elaborate, I’ll dig out the recipe and double check what needs to be purchased and what I already have on hand. I say it’s the hardest part but really, it never takes more than 5 minutes to double check what we already have and what needs to be bought. It’s just the getting off my butt which was on a chair while I was writing down the menu that’s hard.

So now I have 2 lists: one with the 5 dinners (our menu) and the other is the shopping list. The shopping list will have items on it like: Green veggie to go with salmon, veggie to go with pork masala. This gives me the flexibility to pick what looks best at the grocery store.

Next I add to the shopping list any household items we’re running low on and stuff for breakfast and school lunches (I bring dinner leftovers to work for lunch).

Now you can finally go to the grocery store.

I leave the menu list in the kitchen in case I forget what all those things in my fridge are supposed to be combined into. You could get fancy and write each individual dinner menu on small post-its and stick them on your calendar. Post-its would be good since you can move them around.

That’s it. I come back from the grocery store and I know, with confidence, that I have food in my house for 5 dinners. I only do 5 because I know life may get in the way and we’ll eat out once, or not feel like cooking and have breakfast for dinner or have leftovers for dinner one night. Worse case scenario, 5 days later, I start the process again.

As to when I eat what, it depends how we feel the night before. That's normally when I'll decide what is to be eaten the next day in case something needs to be thawed or soaked overnight. If I know it will be a busy day, I'll plan to have one of the quickest items to cook. If I know I won't feel like cooking at the end of the day (seems to be recurring every Saturday for me), I'll go with something that can be prep'd ahead of time like a slow-cooker meal. Sometime, it's also just because I know the kale will be bad if I wait one extra day, so it should really be eaten.

I hope this gives you a starting point!
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#3 of 6 Old 09-14-2006, 10:21 AM
 
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It's also important to do your planning on an empty stomach and your shopping on a full stomach!
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#4 of 6 Old 09-14-2006, 01:39 PM
 
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DH has started doing most of the cooking, and he's not a planner or much of a cook, so I have to keep it simple for him and help him a bit:

We usually grocery shop on Saturdays for 1 week's worth of meals. I printed out some easy 3-4 ingredient recipes and put them in a binder, because that's about all DH can handle. Every now and then I'll search on the internet or cookbooks or whatever to keep finding easy recipes with few ingredients.

I know from experience that 4-5 meals will last us a week, so on Saturday I pick out 4-5 meals, write down the ones I've chosen and the ingredients, and we'll go shopping. I may choose 1 meal that's a bit fancier, that I'll cook on the weekend, but only if I have time.

We eat those meals till the next Saturday when it's time to do it all over again.

I don't search sale papers and stuff. Since I'm picking the menu from a set list of recipes, I pretty much know how much all ingredients will cost so I go to the store I know from experience will be cheaper overall.

And we don't schedule exactly what day to cook which meal because that depends on how much time DH has on a particular day.

Single mom of 2 boys
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#5 of 6 Old 09-14-2006, 03:55 PM
 
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I have tried to shop sales but always had the problem of finding what the sales are. I don't get the newspaper. We read it online to save money. If we stop at the store to get an add we usually end up buying some thing we don't need. Then last month I found that if you go to your local grocery stores web site they usually have tat weeks sale add right there. So while I am checking out this site I am also checking out the sale adds....LOL Saves time. Also if you have a Sam's or Coscos take some time and check out the meat expiration dates. Usually on Sat and Sun if we get there first thing we can get meat on sale.
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#6 of 6 Old 09-14-2006, 04:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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nak. all grat advice. helped alot. i needed it broken down for me. i didn't know that about meat sales at costco. i will have to check it out.

Benji'sMom, i'm not much of a cook either. where are you finding 3-4 ing. recipes? would you like to share. i can do it but it takes a long time. time i really don't have. dh is a great cook, but he feels i should do it because i stay at home. i agree, but what i can do in 1.5 hours he can do in a half hour, no kidding.
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