Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Meal Planning 101

A few people have asked me recently about meal planning. I've been doing it for years, mostly because that's what my mom did. When you grow up in a town with one or two restaurants for takeout (pick up only, no delivery for us) eating out wasn't ever really an option anyway. So knowing what was for dinner was crucial to my mom's sanity. 

Many bloggers have tackled this topic. Recently, Sarah did a great post on it. Her and I tend to have the same philosophy. Although, mine only involves planning for 2, not 4. 

If you're trying to lose weight and/or save money, planning your weekly (or biweekly) menu ahead of time is really the way to go. That way, you'll know what you're having, have the ingredients on hand and it will take the guess work out of "What's for dinner?" and also avoid a pizza/fast food/Chinese take out dinner (although, we totally have those nights now and then.)

I use my planner to jot down our meals, as well as put in ideas for meals for the future. And I also print out recipes from Pinterest so I have them on hand. 
I realize this picture is upside down, but Blogger is being a bitch and not uploading the right orientation. Please, cock your heads. 

Usually, I'll sit down during the week, ask hubs if there's any meals he desires, take a look at the sale papers, my coupons and plan the meals accordingly. My grocery list consists of what we need to make meals for that week, plus extras (stuff for lunch, snacking, etc.) 

And, for the nerd in me, I also have a spreadsheet on Google docs of our favorite meals. Split into beef, chicken, fish, pasta, vegetarian. It's on Google docs so hubs can reference it as well. And honestly? It's nice to have them all in once place. Because sometimes, I make dishes that are a TOTAL fail. Those don't make it on the list. Only our go-to meals.

Once it's all planned out, I'll write it down on our fridge menu planner. Because hubs always needs to know what we're having for the week...and if he's cooking, what he'll be making.
And anything I need that I forgot during the week goes on our message board. This whole fridge system was a part of my resolution to become better organized in 2012. 
I do my shopping on a weekly basis. I wish I could do it on a bi-weekly basis, but with the amount of fresh produce we eat, we typically run out by the end of the week and/or it goes bad. 

We allow ourselves one night out. It's usually a Saturday, unless we're going out with friends during the week. So, I always plan for 6 meals. 

If your grocery store is like mine and runs meat sales periodically, use this time to stock up. I always buy chicken breast when it's on sale. Then come home, separate it into half pound portions, wrap it in foil and label it. Thanks to my sister for turning me on to the foil method. I was using freezer bags, but was still getting some freezer burn. Using the foil really helps. 

I also always have staples on hand. You'll always find in my kitchen:
  • Onions and garlic
  • Potatoes
  • Brown Rice
  • Chicken Stock
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Canned Beans
  • Hot Sauce (duh, Hubs is kind of obsessed)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Lemon Juice
  • Vinegar (balsamic, rice wine, red wine)
  • Olive Oil
  • Whole Wheat Pasta

Tonight? We're have ribs in the crockpot! Hope this was helpful!

1 comment:

Shana said...

Good ideas!! THanks!