Thursday, June 17, 2010

Meal planning is my friend

My goal is to go grocery shopping once a week.  In order to make this happen I need a plan.  (My plan didn't work out so well last week.  I flushed as the grocery packer boy said to me - weren't you here yesterday?)  Nothing makes more difference in my week then my meal plan.   It requires sitting down for half and hour or so and looking at our schedule for the upcoming week then planning our meals accordingly.  With our schedule posted on family board (meal and activities) I avoid overbooking myself and I never wonder what's for dinner.  

This has become my schedule/menu board:

Here are my ten tips for a successful meal plan: 
  1. Scan cupboards and fridge for food that's in danger of expiring.  That can of beans I bought 2 months ago and didn't use turns into next weeks meal project. 
  2. Plan quick meals for rushed nights.
  3. Remain flexible.  To hot to turn the oven on or something else comes up, toss what's in the fridge into the freezer and switch the meals around. 
  4. Plan for the number of meals eaten at home on average.  I plan five meals week, we almost always end up somewhere else for 1 or 2 dinners. 
  5. Have a "quickie" meal on stand-by just in case no one invites us over :) 
  6. Write out my plan and include where the recipes are.  I can't tell you how many times I have grocery listed with an online source only to find that 3 days later I have no idea where the recipe is. 
  7. Don't give up on planning when it feels like none of it worked.  No matter how good the plan is, I'm bound to periodically miss that the recipe was a 2hour bake time not 20min.  Oops.
  8. Schedule time to plan.  A good weeks schedule and thoroughly checked grocery list takes about 1hr to complete.   It's become one of my favorite Sunday afternoon activities. 
  9. Don't get too ambitious.  I challenge myself once (or twice) a week (but I often end up regretting the #2) and I always make sure my challenging meals show up on days I have time to enjoy the process.  
  10. Include baked goods.  I never seem to remember my good intentions of baking fresh bread or muffins for a particular day unless I write it down. 
Planning somehow makes my whole week prettier, more relaxing and more productive all at once.  I've been practicing this on and off for years, but have gotten really good at it since...I've had nothing else to manage.  I didn't reliably remember to take meat out of the freezer before, let alone to marinade it.  I knew I'd gotten better at this when yesterday a family friend stopped by and spontaneously stayed for lunch ... then dinner.  May I quote her?

"This is the most gourmet meal home cooked meal I've had in who knows how long.  Can I get the marinade recipe?"  (lemon thyme)

It was one of my 'easy' meals.  Literally meat from the freezer (frozen with marinade) defrosted and thrown on the grill.  Sided with grilled mushrooms (doesn't get easier) and coleslaw.  I had planned to make something else, but when company came I adjusted.  It felt so, organized.  Like, how my mom must feel all the time.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that I'm getting awesome.

1 comment:

  1. I'd say something clever like "Look at you doing yourself beautiful", but of course you already ARE beautiful. Anywho. Awesome stuff Rudio! I can't wait til our kitchen is finished and we can cook again. Sigh.

    Also is the best online recipe place I've found- can search for specific ingredients and keep narrowing down your search.


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