I am in AWE. How do you START?! - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-04-2008, 03:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, I am totally enamored of the benefits of meal planning.

Currently we have a "loaded larder" - something I'm not very good at incorporating into a specific meal plan.

How? Is there a website or something (tips/hints from y'all?) that will help me use what I have before I go out and buy more?

We too, are stuck in the meat/starch/veggie routine... we have a lot of frozen fish and meat (the fish being the icky VanDeCamps stuff). We also have frozen veggies. My prob at the moment is I'm DEAD SICK AND TIRED of winging it, opting for shake-and-bake chicken with frozen green beans and bread, with cottage cheese and salad as pretty much dinner staples around here. SICK AND TIRED of this food routine. Craving something new.

But we still have plenty of cottage cheese and salad in the fridge. DH won't mind eating it, but I certainly at this point (pretty much as of last night) am in revolt. I just want CHANGE.

But HOW? WHERE TO START? I'm not even sure what I'm craving! (besides fresh, rare-grilled salmon )

SAHM to Chloe (02/28/08) & Samantha (10/06/10)... not quite crunchy - think of us as al dente, finding our way to self-sustainability & full-out crunchy living ... trial and error, one day at a time! 
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:48 PM
 
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Then I'd start there. Get some salmon and eat it, Or if it's too costly, try a different fish and cook it with spices you love. (Frozen fish is fine...not fab, but it can be dealt with. Or are you talking about the breaded stuff? Although I wouldn't throw it out...how many meals of the breaded stuff do you have left?)

Instead of shake and bake, make something closer to whole. Instead of peas, roast or steam some asparagus. Instead of white rice have wild or basmati. (Buying in bulk will save you money).

Any meal planning is easier if you have ingredients that are whole and healthy. I find no pleasure in cooking with igredients I don't feel good about.

Everything is either meat startch veggie or fruit etc ...it's what you do with it that matters.

Are you looking for more variety? Better quality? A total diet change?
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Old 04-04-2008, 04:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I personally hate battered anything (I'll eat boiled eggs, salad, fruit while DH dines on breaded fish or chicken) but I'm tiring off that too, now. I'm looking for diversity - leading eventually to intuitive eating (tho' how that can coincide with meal planning is still a mystery to me). I LOVE asparagus! And basmati!

I guess I'm looking for something I DO take pleasure in making and eating. There's very little reward in it now... we have frozen breaded fish only. Yuck. I'm ready to take a match (hot water?!) to the whole thing!!! We *can* afford to start from scratch but throwing it all out just goes against my morals/ethic. We stopped canned goods awhile ago; the fish was a buy-one-get-one sale... I've just had to replace our ketchup, so bought organic (and plan to do so with other things as well, as they run out). But I want to start planning with relish, meals that sound good, are different, new, enjoyable to make and to eat. DH is very easy to please (thanks be!) - I don't have a budget (tho' I'd like to start that too) as we don't really worry (or need to) about money (tho' I do, out of habit).

Ideas where to start? Thank you so much for your reply! I'm so tempted to cart my dd off to the store and acquire some really really yummy fresh salmon! (just the thought of it is making my mouth water...)

SAHM to Chloe (02/28/08) & Samantha (10/06/10)... not quite crunchy - think of us as al dente, finding our way to self-sustainability & full-out crunchy living ... trial and error, one day at a time! 
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Old 04-04-2008, 04:19 PM
 
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To start I grabbed a stack of cookbooks I like and a notebook. Wrote down 31 meals- complete meals. A lot was stuff I make or have made before and some was new. Even a few new twists on old faves. Basically, we sit down every 2 weeks and pick out about 10-12 meals from that list. We also add to it when we think of something. 10-12 because some make a LOT and we also eat out sometimes. GL!
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Old 04-04-2008, 04:31 PM
 
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We *can* afford to start from scratch but throwing it all out just goes against my morals/ethic.

I hear ya. I felt very much the same way when looking at our jam packed cupboards and freezer. The amount of stuff in our house made my head hurt. Because I was a sucker for 2 for 1s and "good" deals, I often bought more than I wanted or needed.

Anything edible, I donated. I had lots of canned veggie and dry goods that I didn't want to eat.

Throwing out food goes against everything I learned growing up to the Nth degree but I had to do something drastic to get us on track.

I am embarassed to say this, with so many people in the world in need but in all honesty, I did throw frozen stuff out once I committed to our new system. I started thinking that I was treating myself like a trash can by forcing myself to eat stuff I didn't like, was old, or was unhealthy.

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Old 04-04-2008, 04:32 PM
 
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I do exactly as the PP! Sundays I sit down and plan my week's meals. I get the "Taste of Home" magazine, and I go through and clip out recipes I'd like to try. Then I glue the recipes to a sheet of paper and put it in a binder with clear page protectors. I also love allrecipes.com, and cdkitchen.com I usually try 2-3 new recipes every week.

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Old 04-04-2008, 07:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am embarassed to say this, with so many people in the world in need but in all honesty, I did throw frozen stuff out once I committed to our new system. I started thinking that I was treating myself like a trash can by forcing myself to eat stuff I didn't like, was old, or was unhealthy.
Hey! Just the other day I read (and made it my resolution) "my body is not a discount body." I'm a SUCKER for sales too. I love the idea of donating, tho'! Thx so much!

SAHM to Chloe (02/28/08) & Samantha (10/06/10)... not quite crunchy - think of us as al dente, finding our way to self-sustainability & full-out crunchy living ... trial and error, one day at a time! 
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Old 04-04-2008, 07:32 PM
 
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I'd start by writing down what you do like to eat. Plan out a week at a time with some stuff you do like and throw a couple new recipes in there. The What's For Dinner thread has lots of great ideas if you're looking for something new.

It'll take some time to get rid of that stuff (I've given packaged food to family members) and start with fresher, more whole things. As for what you already have, inventory it and post it and we'll help come up with meals.
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Old 04-04-2008, 10:53 PM
 
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I just started meal planning/ TF this month. What I did was on the first of the month I downloaded a calender template from Microsoft Word and I went through everything I have in the fridge/ freezer and planned out meals. Everything I have on hand took me thru the first 10 days of the month. Most of the meals are TF, but some are prepared foods that I need to clear out.

After that I went of recipe sites and looked thru until I found something that appealed to me. That mixed in with some of our favorites made up the rest of the month. Two days out of the month I give myself a day off and we get take out.
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Old 04-04-2008, 11:26 PM
 
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I don't plan out my meals, but if you want to improve your meal plans, just buy fresher food, that'll help wake up your mouth. Buy fresh pineapple and mangoes, get weird (different) greens for your salads, put grapes in your salad and spinach in your smoothies. Mix it up. Buy produce you've never heard. Have vegetables for breakfast and homemade, whole wheat pancakes for dinner topped with loads of fresh fruit. Make fresh desserts like berries and cream (soy or dairy) or apple crisp (sooo easy if you have one of those apple slicer thingys-which kids love to crank for you). I also use frozen fruit (peaches, blueberries, raspberries, etc) for crisps/cobblers. I mix 1/2 cups of oats, flour, and maple syrup, and a 1/4 cup of oil and just sprinkle it over the top of the fruit. So yummy. Use fresh herbs, lemon juice, fresh jalapeños and serrano peppers. Saute veggies in coconut oil, it gives them a wonderful flavor. Make homemade soups, they're sooo much better than canned ones, and easy too. I like to throw in all the leftovers from the week and it usually makes a tasty soup. I puree some of it usually cuz I like a thick broth. Eat things with more flavor: brown rice, whole wheat flour, fresh fruits and veggies, sweet potatoes. And don't stick with the old rice and pasta routines. Cook some millet or quinoa or kasha (not to be confused with Kashi-the box of cereal). Sorry I better be quiet now. I love food if you couldn't tell...

Fresher is better!

(and now I'm dying for some mangoes....which we don't have)

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Old 04-05-2008, 06:20 PM
 
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I meal plan from cookbooks and magazines, with an eye towards what we have in the pantry, plus what is on sale/in season that week.

So, I might start the plan by thinking, gosh, I'd like to eat soup this week. Then, I'll notice that asparagus is on sale/in season. Well, asparagus soup sounds good. For our family, that's too light of a dish for supper, so I'd start thinking, what can go with it? Well, I know that we have alot of butter int he freezer. Hey, what about butter croissants? And, go from there.

We also have some set ideas about our menu. On Fridays, I always make an appetizer and a special drink (sometimes alcoholic, sometimes not) to eat during happy hour. That's our usual supper time, and that's what the baby eats for supper. Then, I cook one of two things for a "date night" supper--something really yummy we love or something really, really easy that leaves extra time for well, date night. When I am reading magazines during the week, if I see something good, I'll make a note of it on my grocery list to remember to make it that week (or I'll tear it out and stick it on the fridge).

Meal planning, to me, is fun, and it takes about an hour a week. Well worth it.

For the cottage cheese, some people use it in lasagna (in place of ricotta). I've also had this great, retro-ish veggie dip made with cottage cheese. http://kalynskitchen.blogspot.com/20...dip-greek.html
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Old 04-06-2008, 12:16 AM
 
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Someone on here recommended keeping track of WHAt you make, and I have been since august of last year and it REALLy helps me to not make the same thing over and over. I try to not make the same thing 2x in any 3 wk period, preferably not more than once a month, really. Its challenging but totally worth it. I tend to change things around as circumstances change (and its been way out of wack since I started life guard training a month ago, I can't wait for it to be done with...), but its awesome to know what I've made when.

For me, I just have a spread sheet with 7 spots for the days of the weeks main course, color coded for food type (chicken, seafood, turkey, beef, venison, pork, vegetarian). My other goal of late has been to eat 2+ veggie meals a week, really trying for upwards of 4...
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Old 04-06-2008, 02:59 AM
 
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I have a hard time sticking to a set meal plan. with 5 kids that all have this and that going on it makes me crazy. then to plan to have a sit down dinner on top of "stuff". I find im wasteing food. Maybe I just need simpler meals?

Doing what I can to make better choices every day!
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Old 04-06-2008, 03:15 AM
 
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Personally, to get started, I think it's better to just plan a few days instead of a whole week. Expect to go to the grocery store every 3 days or so, and try to plan out what you'll eat during those three days. It's a lot easier, food stays fresher, etc.

I have a lot of beans, rice, flour, sugar, pasta, etc. in my cupboards. I freeze bread. I love sales but only on non-perishable staples. Beware other sales.

Also - the thing I like best about meal planning is it cuts down on the cooking. For instance - I can roast a chicken on Monday, and have that with steamed veggies and rice. Then, Tuesday I can carve up some more chicken, combine it with the leftover rice, add some taco seasoning and some beans, etc. and have burritos, taco salad, whatever. Then, Wed. maybe I can add some more chicken to a casserole, or stir fry or whatever. Plus along the way I can make a double batch of burrito filling, casserole, etc. and freeze it. Not to mention the chicken bones you can boil down and turn into soup with odds and ends of veggies, meat, pasta, etc.

See, with a bit of thought you can save yourself a lot of work. It's not even about planning a whole week. Start small. You'll see.
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Old 04-06-2008, 01:07 PM
 
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I'm in my second month of meal planning, so by no means an expert, but not too long ago I was exactly where you are now. What I did was get a sheet of paper and make column headers of all the meats I use...Chicken, Gr. Turkey, Gr.beef, Pork, Beef and under each column I listed absolutely all of my regular fall back meals that I cook. So under Gr. Beef I had such items as chili, shepheard's pie, mini meatloaves, etc. I also made a list of random meals that don't fit under a meat heading, like soups, sandwiches, or salads. I was amazed by how many recipes I have in my mental roll-a-dex, because it felt like I made the same 4 meals over and over. Also, I love to keep a well stocked pantry, so I know I have the ingredients on hand to make all of these meals.

I also took a solid stock of my pantry, fridge, freezer and deep freezer. It was kind of embarassing to find that I had 7lbs of butter in the deep freezer, yet I had written butter on my grocery list.

Next was the library. I checked out a few cookbooks and pulled out all of my old ones and sat down looking for meals that sounded good to me or my family. It was really kinda fun trying to think of new things.

A friend sent me the template she uses for her menu, and that's what I use to write the plan on. I plan one week at a time, but I'm thinking about upping it to 2 weeks at a time. Eventually I'd like to get up to 6wks at a time, but I'm not ready. Right now I take a few minutes every Sunday morning and plan for the upcoming week.

In the six weeks I've been doing this, I've spent less money on groceries, because I'm comitting to using what's on hand as much as possible. It also feels really good to not have to wonder what's for dinner. That stress is lifted. I used to joke with dh that I was an Iron Chef, the challenge? Husband's coming home in 30 minutes and all you have in the fridge is 2 left over pork chops and left over beans...WHAT'S FOR DINNER?

You can do this!

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Old 04-06-2008, 04:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by principii View Post
Currently we have a "loaded larder" - something I'm not very good at incorporating into a specific meal plan.
.....
But HOW? WHERE TO START? I'm not even sure what I'm craving! (besides fresh, rare-grilled salmon )
It can be overwhelming to look at ALL THAT FOOD. I can relate! We have some weird stuff in our cabinets.

What I started doing was taking our 4 or 5 items I wanted to use up, either because we had a lot or it had been in there a while or it was just a weird item. For example, we have cranberry sauce and canned pumpkin up there. I know by the time fall rolls around, I'll wonder if I should just by new. So I'd like to use it now. I'll take those items and look for recipes that would use them. It's especially good if we have the other necessary items on hand. I found:
* Pumpkin smoothies
* Pumpkin muffins
* Cranberry sorbet
* Cranberry pork loin

I find that limiting my scope of ingredients helps my success rate.

Bridget. Momma to DD (4), expecting DS - 9/09, wife to SAHD. Gardener, coffee addict, urban dweller.
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Old 04-06-2008, 06:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is phenomenal. No, this is more than phenomenal - this is sublime! I am SO PUMPED. Okay, so I've been working on this (erstwhile taking copious notes from all the wonderful posts here! Did I mention I LOVE MDC??? )

Oooooh la la, and I can't believe it, but my hubby is psyched too! In fact, right now we have finished half of our kitchen inventory. It's not QUITE as overwhelming since I now know at least HALF of what I'm dealing with!

I've also planned through Wednesday (we do dig fresh food, so that works nicely for us). I tend to have to trip out a couple times a week anyway, to acquire bananas, apples, and salad (my personal life staples, LOL).

Golly gee, thank you all SO MUCH!!! This is super! I'm going to print this off... highlight all the tips... start a binder... this is just going to be so cool. And spring is right here, summer and farmer's markets just around the corner - DUDE! The opportunities are endless.

(okay, can you tell somebody's thrilled? )

SAHM to Chloe (02/28/08) & Samantha (10/06/10)... not quite crunchy - think of us as al dente, finding our way to self-sustainability & full-out crunchy living ... trial and error, one day at a time! 
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Old 04-06-2008, 10:53 PM
 
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It is so cute to see you so excited!!

Mama to (DS 7) and (DD 5), wife to DH

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Old 04-06-2008, 11:52 PM
 
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Princippi - I thought of one more thing that some people swear by. Quite a few people that swear by meal planning have a 'theme' for each day of the week. I think it keeps them organized and provides variety. So, it could go:

M - Italian
T - Chinese
W - Soup
Th - Breakfast for dinner
F - Pizza night
Sa - Eat out
Su - Meat and potatoes

or
M - Chicken
T - Vegetarian
W - Ethnic foods
TH - Beef
F - Crockpot
Sa - Kids cook
Su - Grilling

GOOD LUCK! I'm glad you're starting up!

Bridget. Momma to DD (4), expecting DS - 9/09, wife to SAHD. Gardener, coffee addict, urban dweller.
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