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June 3, 2011

Meal Planning

I ask the same question of my husband about 3 times a year: "What did we do before I started meal planning?" I know that I didn't always do it. All we can think is that we went to the store many times a week, got take-out just as often and spent way too much money.

Our meal planning has varied over the past few years, in both the way we meal plan, as well as the length of time our plans go for.

We've done plans ranging from 1 week, 2 weeks, a month to two months at a time (only once, when we were expecting Caedmon, I planned for two months, so in case I went past my due date, I didn't have to think about planning meals!) Our current planning consists of me working up a list of meals for one month at a time, as we have a membership to BJ's (much like Sam's Club or Costco) and we do one big shopping trip there and at our local grocery store once a month. We do stop weekly at our local produce stand, farmer's market or store for fresh fruits and veggies, bread and other perishables.

Our plans have also changed over the years as I've attempted to find which plan suits my personality the best.

I've tried a couple different methods:

Themes: I assigned each day of the week a theme. For example: Monday is crockpot day, Tuesday is casserole day, Wednesday is Italian day, Thursday is Mexican day, etc....

Repeating: I attempted to make a 2 week plan for the first half of the month (14 meals, a different one each day) and then repeating for the second half of the month.

The one I found that works for my personality? Just pick meals we like. I have a recipe blog and I just go through, pulling our tried and true favorites. To continually add new meals to my repertoire, I attempt to make one new meal each week. If it doesn't work, I don't stress over it. However, I do typically do 2-3 new meals a month, if not more.

I'm also not strict with my meal plan. For example, yesterday was supposed to be Chicken Divan day. I did not feel like having that, and wanted something simpler, so I decided on Tacos. And then the mail came, along with some cash from my inlaws for our anniversary with instructions to have dinner on them. A few text messages later, and my husband was stopping at our favorite local "fast food Japanese" place for hibachi chicken (extra yum-yum sauce, please!) and shrimp. Tonight? Tacos!

Do you meal plan? Do you have a specific method? What about some favorite meals?


Simply Natural Home said...

I am a serious meal planner! We have a strict budget that we stick to each month and the only way I can make it work is if I meal plan. I do it the way you do, plan out about 2 weeks of meals we like and then I buy everything I need for that. And if I don't feel like making something on a particular night, then I pick something else. I have chalkboard that I made in the kitchen where I write what the menu is for the night. :)

Two Little Monkeys said...

We used to do the whole themed nights but I got totally bored with that so we're back to just picking what we like. We do one week at a time. I always want to do a month at a time but it's too much effort.

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