Monday, November 22, 2010

Meal Planning 101

Step One...
Sucker someone else into doing it!

If that doesn't work, you're on your own.  AAAAaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!

Seriously, though...I do believe there is money and stress to be saved just by making a meal plan.  I know people who have a three month list of meals and can just mix and match and lay out dinner ideas for the whole month in a matter of minutes.  I also know a lot of people who will pick up something fresh on the way home from work every day instead of doing a big shopping trip. 

Now, in my situation, Mom is the shopper.  I am the cook (at least most of the time).  She knows what I can and can't make, she knows her schedule and what or when she can cook also.  There are certain 'staples' that we always have and other things that we buy when they are on sale.  In the end, our freezer is almost always full, along with the pantry.  We are pretty good at noting things we are running low on so we don't run out.
My meal planning is half done, right?  I have a selection of meats, veggies, etc. stocked and waiting.  I just have to put them together!  

I've tried. I did notice that when I wrote a basic plan on the fridge, everyone noticed.
Everyone also LOUDLY voiced their opinions of my selections.   
Think weekdays only, so 
5 meals 
1 hubby to dislike Thursdays meal. 
2 kids who can read - one doesn't want Tuesday's meal and the other hates Wednesday's choice.  
Who's invited us out Friday? 
Oh.... okay... well, at least I have today planned!  

I've tried making a list with the family.  Started by each type of meat and asked what types of meals they like with that meat.  It helped a bit, but unless I'm willing to live on Beef and chicken (and only in the form of nuggets, of course) this method didn't get us far.  

I tried to accommodate ONE person's favorite per day... but that meant at least 2 complainers EVERY day. ugghh..

This weekend I got a bit smarter.  I made a list of what meat was in the freezer right now.  Sat down while the family was eating our Sunday dinner and stated "This is what we have, what do you want this week?"  The kids invariably added 'takeout' and mac & cheese to the list and when I clarified that I was making something from this list only.... they did offer a few ideas.  In a couple minutes we had a basic outline for the week. I so far only plan week days, as our weekends breeze by and are often filled with leftovers and snacks.  But at least having a plan for the busy days takes some stress away from my evenings. It's much easier to get the kids to bed on time when supper happens at a decent time.

After this week, I will write down the list the family gave me.  I will try to follow the same plan next week for planning meals, and the week after and so on.  And I will add anything to this first list that wasn't there before.  Eventually I should have my very own stockpile of dinner ideas, so that I too can have a rotating menu plan. I may not have the variety I crave so much, but at least everyone will eat what I make.

I can always make the things I really like for my lunch...

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