Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Do You Meal Plan?

It seems as though I'm in a confessing type mood lately, so here is another confession:

I am horrible at meal planning.

We are often a very fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants type eaters, and this means we probably don't eat the best. I'm putting the word "probably" in there just to make myself feel better. I often don't shop ahead, I'm often scrambling to find something...anything...even if it's just something frozen in the freezer like pizza rolls or corn dogs or sometimes it's eggs, bacon, and biscuits. And I just hate that.

If I do, by some miracle, plan ahead, it's certainly not very exciting. I remember one time blogging about my best dinner being a Shake n Bake Chicken Parmesan. Yes. That's right. I admit it. I use Shake n Bake!

So I'm asking for advice - anything - that would help me in being a better meal planner. Maybe it's a website you've found. Tell me! Maybe you use a calendar and plan by the week, bi-weekly, or monthly. I would love to hear about it! What are your most favorite recipes that don't require a lot of strange ingredients?

I need your help!

Is this what you do? And how many options do you have?


Anonymous said...

I meal plan almost every week. I just sit down with a scrap of paper and work though what we have each night (Tuesday is small group, Saturday is church and we almost always go out afterwards, sometimes Robert isn't home for dinner because of work). Since it's summer most of our meals are cooked on the grill because we don't want to heat up the house. Veggies are picked out at the grocery store based on what produce is on sale (same for fruit).
Our menu this week was:
Monday-homemade pizzas (cooked on the grill)
Tuesday-Flank steak, okra and rosemary potatoes
Wednesday-leftover flank steak fajitas with guacamole and chips
Thursday-tuna with (to be determined)
Friday-going away party
Saturday-out after church
Sunday-Robert won't be home so I'll either throw something together or pick something up
We usually just pick meals that sound good. I had the idea a few years ago to make a master list of main dishes we like, but it never seemed to work out. We do usually have pizza and breakfast for dinner about once a week. I find the better I meal plan, the better I stick to our budget.

Amy said...

I write out our weekly menu either Saturday sometime or before church Sunday morning. We do all the grocery shopping for the week Sunday after church, before lunch. And I only buy what we need for the week, so it cuts back on having so much food in our pantry that I don't know where anything is!

We tend to have weekly "regulars" when it comes to the menu. Here are some of my favorites. You'll see that they're ALL EASY.

1) ham subs: I buy bakery sub rolls and honey deli ham and slap a piece of cheese on it, too. Put them in aluminum foil and then in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes. Wha-la, hot subs! I got this idea from an online menu planning site that I used once for 4 months. Easy, quick, and yummy!

2) Chicken taco salad. I call it salad, even though it doesn't have lettuce in it (I hate lettuce!). I cut chx tenderloins into small pieces, then cook them on a skillet (they cook quicker when they're pre-cut into pieces!), and then put them on top of crunched up Tostitos, add shredded cheese on top, and then mild taco sauce. The kids love this one!

3) Breakfast for dinner. Scrambled eggs, pancakes, turkey bacon. That's what we're having tonight! LOVE IT!

4) Hamburger Helper. (And, yes, I use Shake N Bake, too!)

5) Then we usually eat out twice a week. Once during the week, usually Chick-fil-A when Dale is out of town, and also a pizza night.

Since I started planning the menu out in advance, we've cut down on our eating out dramatically. Used to eat out probably 4 nights a week, b/c I would get off of work and wouldn't have a clue what we were going to have for dinner. So we took the easy way out. As you can see from my list, we certainly don't always replace eating out with really healthy eating, but at least we're not spending a lot of money eating out.

That is, until the frozen yogurt place opened up a mile from our house. Now we go there for dessert 3 or 4 times a week! :-)

Jamie said...

I'm horrible at meal planning too. When I do actually sit down and plan meals I like to plan two weeks at a time, then if something comes up I can rotate meals and such. I always put in a leftover day and we always have pizza on Sunday nights. When I do my grocery shopping I buy all the items I need for both weeks except the fresh produce. I will buy for one week and then the following week I will go to the store just for fresh produce and milk. I used to use and it was helpful for a while. but now i usually look through my favorite new "cookbook" "Family Feasts for $75 a week" by Mary Ostyn and there are lots of great/healthy/cheap recipes in there. Good luck. I better go make a meal's been ages since I've done so!

Anonymous said...

I make our meal plans by the month. Each week, I just look at what I have written for that week and choose what I want each day. (Because sometimes on Mondays I may have written fajitas but I'm not in the mood for fajitas, so I just pick something else.)

My meal planning has been made SUPER easy by using I just pin new meal ideas or my trusty stand-by's and I can just go to my board to get the recipe.

Since I work at night, I do a lot of crock pot or make-ahead meals so Shannon and the kids have something for dinner. (I get leftovers when I get home-yummy!)

I have many of my tried and true recipes on Pinterest, but if you're not using that, let me know and I can email some to you!

Brittany said...

I plan our meals weekly. We used to take a cooler with bags of ice and go shopping before church b/c after church is too crowded and we are all hungry! I also switch things up if what I planned on a certain night doesn't work out. We also look at our schedule for the week and plan quick things for the evenings that we have to do something.
We love these dinners and MIGHT eat them way too much! :)
Polish Sausage (grilled outside or on the George Formann grill, or just pan fried)
Chicken Tacos
Homemade Pizza (get the jiffy crust mix...easy and yummy!)
Baked Potato Bar

Pam said...

Weekly here as well. I am part of an organic food co-op where I buy produce weekly, so I usually start there. Plus I LOVE to cook so it isn't that hard. I used e-meals when I was coaching/teaching. It is Dave Ramsey endorsed and even gives you a shopping list.

Causey Fam said...

You've motivated me to make a menu. Haven't done one in a while and it's time to be organized again! Last time I did one, I printed off a month calendar page, wrote in a main course item for a each day and shopped for 2 weeks accordingly. Then I had what I needed on hand and could rearrange the days if I didn't feel like eating what was on a certain day. Breakfast, pizza and tacos were regular menu items and I filled in around that. Good luck. Will you post your menu if you do one?

Anonymous said...

Have you looked into something like e-Meals? I have a few friends that have used them and have really liked it.

Chrissy said...

We did e-meals for a while, but I wonder if we just chose the wrong category or something. I didn't really like what they were telling me, like buy lean pockets and cans of soup. Umm...I was hoping for a little more creativity! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh kids eat A LOT of cereal and frozen you're not alone!!

accesskas27 said...

I sit down before I go grocery shopping and look at what coupons I have and if possible I try to make some meals that use those couponed items, if not then I just have a "go to meal" list and I just pick something for each night and then I make my grocery list accordingly.

Sadly we do not have tons of meals. Our major ones are (and I will be happy to share the recipes if you want)

Meatloaf, Mashed potatoes, frozen veggie and biscuits
Fish Sticks, mac-n-cheese, veggie
Breakfast food
Grilled Cheese, tomato soup
Chili (during winter)
Chicken Parmesan with noodles
Chicken,Rice Potatoe Casserole
Chicken Alfredo

that's all I can think of right now.... but let me know if you are interested and I'll pass the recipes along to you!

Life as I Know it said...

Chrissy I think you choose the wrong E-Mealz. I do the one for Wal-Mart for 2 people and have never had to buy Lean Pockets. I love it because it isn't a box of Hamburger Helper. If you want I will give you some of my older copies. I know you have a bigger family then I do, so I would do the Wal-Mart Family of 4.

Siera said...

I don't meal plan well. Since starting working full time and my fiance deploying, meal planning is a joke. I can cook and I cook well but I don't plan well. Heres website for you.

Deidre said...

I do not plan meals well, but appreciate reading these posts. It seems when I do plan and put food in the refrigerator to thaw (we get beef and pork by the half or whole), we end up with plans almost every night and are not home to eat, so I have a stockpile of meat that needs to be eaten.

I am proud of myself tonight b/c I have ribs in the Crock Pot and really hope they turn out well. I wish I could be that organized every day!

I read in Reader's Digest that a family can save a ton of money by shopping only once a month (making a full month menu) and then getting only the necessary perishables at the beginning of each week's menu, but I just can't seem to get that motivated, nor can I find the time to cook all these meals that I crave!

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