Every person has their own opinion on meal planning. Some say it is to time consuming. Others might say planning out a week or more of meals is too confining and limits spontaneity. While still others find the use of a menu stress reducing. My take? I prefer to meal plan, granted I really only plan dinners, breakfast is pretty basic during the week and I like to limit one big breakfast to a Saturday or Sunday morning. Lunches, again pretty simple, either leftovers from dinner the night before or a sandwich, always with a price of fruit. So that really just leaves the dinner planning.
The benefits, as I see them:
1. I spend 1 day planning 7 dinners and the shopping list
2. I try to plan meals with items I already have on hand
3. One trip to the grocery store per week equals more time home and less money spent
4. Going to the store with a shopping list and plan in mind reduces impulse and over buying
5. Less waste, we buy only the amounts we need and only for a week so even delicate leafy greens are used while still fresh.
6. We eat less prepackaged goods and more whole foods.
7. I think we definitely eat better when we meal plan
8. Even on busy work nights we still have a nice dinner since it was already thought of, shopped for and the recipe is waiting for when I get home. I know what to expect and for me it is almost mindless work by this point.
How do I do it?
I spend one day searching cookbooks and the internet for fun new recipes based around the meat, or lack thereof, that I want that dinner to be based on. I also ask the Hubby and Kiddo what they are craving or hoping to see on the menu. We consider the weather. If it is cold and rainy I am not going to plan to BBQ something. On the flip, if it is going to a warm evening I don’t want to be firing up the oven. This year I have set a weekly goal of what I want each weeks worth of dinners to look like.
What that looks like:
1- Red meat
1 or 2- Pork
2 or 3- Poultry
I have a great cookbook program on my computer that I enter all the recipes into. This allows me to keep a collection of new recipes that I can then keep in regular rotation for future meal plans. It is also a great asset in nutrition as I can put a recipe in as is, see what the nutritional analysis is and if I don’t like the numbers I can go back to edit the recipe to reflect fat and calories and portions by tweaking the ingredients. Take for instance a recipe that calls for a lot of high fat oils for sautéing, I have learned to cut 1 tablespoon to a teaspoon and add a little broth or water to help prevent sticking. The cookbook I use is Master Cook 11. It was a gift from my mom and I absolutely LOVE it!
Once I have the menu and recipes figured out I jot down the shopping list and luckily for me, send the Hubby off to the market. Don’t ask me, he just does it.
The leftovers from the pork & kraut, rotini with broccoli and chicken tacos were sent as lunches. We filled in with sandwiches made on homemade bread. Our big weekend breakfast was sausage, egg and cheese breakfast burritos.
So there’s my take on meal planning, what’s yours?