post off: do you plan a weekly menu?

beans&onions

In our house, we pretty much make everything we eat ourselves. Mostly it’s a budget thing, but I have a few food sensitivities, and find it much easier to cook at home. I don’t know how we’d survive if I didn’t work in a grocery store — it makes it easy to grab the ingredients for what we need on a whim. I’ve tried making a weekly menu and done one big shop, but I find I often deviate from the plan, and sometimes end up having to throw ingredients out. I’ve looked at some of these helpful plans from SimpliFried, springpad, and Organized Home which may help me better stick to my plan. But honestly, I really prefer keeping a well stocked pantry and grabbing my fresh produce and proteins as needed, “European style”, so to say. How do you plan your meals? Are you regimented or flexible? Any helpful tips to sticking to a plan you’d care to share? — Megan B.

photo courtesy of Kletia Garies

From our partners

I’m exactly the same, well stocked pantry/freezer so I can mix it up. I love to be organized, but I can’t commit that far ahead on food.

“Flexible” has too often devolved into “Eh, I’m missing one ingredient for what I want to do, let’s go out” for me, so I’m trying regimented. And I still ended up throwing things out under “flexible,” because oops, I thawed ground beef and then we ate out for several nights and it’s gray now. Eww.

The biggest problem has been, I guess, my weird schedule. My evenings tend to be full of community meetings and whatnot, and if I don’t plan ahead and put something in the crockpot, we end up dashing out to get fast food when we’re all starved and grumpy.

Plus, we have a kiddo who’s got appetite issues as a side effect of medication, and bedtime snacks are almost a formal meal for him (playing catchup when meds have mostly worn off)… so planning for something deliberate and substantial for that has helped too.

It remains to be seen, of course, how long before it devolves back to “flexible.”

i dont really do a menu, per se, but i try to cook things i can build on … i.e. roast a chicken on monday, make chicken enchiladas on wednesday etc. and then i’ll have weeks where i’m not allowed to buy anything but produce from the store, and eat up pantry items before i’m allowed to replenish. :)

DJ

I wish. I often end up just eating a salad because I haven’t planned ahead.

We are flexible, but trying the eat in more and more these days. Healthier and better on the budget.
Couple things help tremendously:
A bimonthly CSA box of fruits and veggies. We get it delivered, oh so nice! But it keeps us having enough fresh stuff around and incentive to eat it before the next box comes.
Making soup on Sunday nights for the coming work week. Sometimes for lunches, sometimes for when we get home late.
Making a bit more at dinner…. take leftovers for lunch, or freeze.

Besides the CSA box — we go to Costco once every three months for staples/things to freeze.
and the regular old grocery store probably twice a month for other things.

The CSA box for us has been the ticket.

I too have a limited diet for health reasons. I’d love to have a plan. I can never find much inspiration so I either eat a random assortment of junk or cook one of the ten or so meals on rotation. Inspiration and experience just haven’t hit me yet.

Laura

We eat the same thing each weekday morning at home. Ditto for weekday (or work week) lunches.

We find that if we don’t plan 1) we go the grocery alllllll the time, which means we spend more money on groceries than we need to or we go out to eat alllll the time (which also means spending more money).

So, in order to help us keep a decent food budget, help get us home at a decent hours and help us eat better, we started planning. Our plan is pretty loose though. We pick 5-6 dinners, write up the grocery list and go shopping. We don’t have it planned down to the night or anything like that and we allow ourselves flexibility to go out during the week with friends if we want to. That just means we’ll have dinner at home on the weekend too!

For us, it’s worked pretty well. When I figured it out as part of our total budget, we were psyched to find out how much money we’ll save each month if we stick to a total budget, especially when it comes to our food budget.

I’m cooking for 1 now as my son is away at college. I find that most nights I didn’t fix anything and I’m eating a PB&J sandwich (or 6 slices of raisin bread like tonight). So not healthy, but at least I’m not eating out. I really need to find some good low serving recipes so I don’t have tons of left overs. I need to come up with and commit to a plan.

I never thought I would be able to follow a menu, but I recently decided to give it a try. It’s been a total lifesaver. The weekends were the worst for us because we were just eating whatever we could scrounge up (and usually taking impromptu trips to the grocery store for tubs of ice cream and chips — terrible). I bought a little wipe board with magnets so it can go on the fridge. I see it every time I’m in the kitchen, so I never forget what I have to defrost or prepare for a meal. It’s also helped with shopping and trying new recipes. As I prepare the menu and review recipes I’ve bookmarked online, I also prepare a shopping list. If I’m not going shopping that week (having a menu has decreased the amount of grocery shopping I do, too), I write the menu in the kitchen so I can look around at what I have and what I can work with. It’s really taken the pressure off of me since I know I have the ingredients to make that meal and I’m not falling into my usual trap of remembering about dinner at the last minute and slapping something together.

shelterrific » Blog Archive » a few things we learned last week

[…] planning a weekly menu sounds great, most of us are flexible when it comes to meals. Megan B. asked how much planning goes into your meals, and you’d like to, but many tend to keep options around and cook on the fly. ModFruGal says, […]

Lois

My husband and I eat in mostly, and I try to cook diverse ethnic balance healthy meals. Although I don’t plan exactly what we eat for the week, I always buy some staple groceries that can store more than a week. I buy the produce (veggies, fruits, herbs) on a weekly basis. I try to cook extras to have leftovers during the week, so I don’t have to cook every night (as we both work). Rachel Ray has a show on the Cooking Channel, but her menu is on the weblink below. I think the trick if you’re cooking for the week is cooking things in mostly one pot, and it stores well either in the fridge or freezer. Rachel Ray’s 30 minute meals on the Foodnetwork.com also have some tasty quick easy meals.

http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/rachael-rays-week-in-a-day/i-offer-you-the-world/index.html