Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tweaking my Menu Planning

I'm sitting here finishing up my grocery list for shopping this afternoon while the boys take naps ("bap" as Graeme says).

I've come up with something that has been working for me for a few months now, so I think it's been tested enough to share it. I often have great ideas that don't pan out after giving them a good testing for a few weeks, but this one seems to be a "keeper".
We've been married for almost 5 years, and I've never gotten into a real groove when it comes to menu planning. It's probably because I get bored easily, and I always think the grass is greener - always trying a new thing!

So this plan gives me some flexibility, but here's what I love about it: It gives me a place to start. Procrastination is one of my top-three flaws, I'd say, and so many times I'll sit down to make my grocery list/menu plan and feel lost, alone, and afraid! (Sounds exaggerated, but not by much!)

Here it is: planning by category
Monday - salad (change to soup in the winter)
Tuesday - stir-fry
Wednesday - spaghetti, lasagna or pizza
Thursday - fish
Friday - fun/family (grill-out, hot dogs, have people over...)
Saturday - sandwiches (easy, flexible in case we're low on groceries)
Sunday lunch - crockpot/roast
Sunday dinner - breakfast

Then I have a list of breakfasts and lunches to work off of on a regular basis. This makes stocking my pantry/cupboards simple.

pasta salad/rice salad/green salad (throw in leftover meats if desired)
tuna sandwhiches
mac n cheese

pancakes/waffles/french toast (great for using up that almost-stale bread!)

There are a couple things that I do weekly/semi-weekly:
Pot of beans to soak Sunday evening - this gives us beans for lunches, snacks, dips or whatever
Roast a chicken on Monday - sometimes use the chicken for a chicken or pasta salad that evening, to use in lunches or my Tues. stir fry, and then I make chicken broth for the week. Read more about the health benefits of broth here.
Baking - Once a month, I'm using this recipe for homemade bread. I'd like to bake a weekly batch of muffins/bagels or whatever, as well as a weekly batch of rolls (potato rolls, french bread, eventually I'm going to experiment with sourdough).

So that's what a week in my kitchen is looking like, and I'm feeling very comfortable with this type of planning. Especially since we are really cutting back on processed/commercial foods, trying to eat locally and healthfully, and working to pay off our debt (Dave Ramsey anyone??!!), careful planning is not a luxury, it's a necessity! The few weeks of our move were crazy, and we were amazed at 1) how expensive it is to eat out, 2) how much we noticed feeling draggy and just tired of eating-out-food, and 3) how generally hard it is to find healthy food at mid-range restaurants and fast food. It's wonderful to get back to real food made by my own hands in my own kitchen! :-)

A question - what do you all do on the weekends to keep meals simple? Do you have a standard Sunday dish you prepare every week?


Myra said...

Good for you! This looks amazing and something that I definitely need to try. For Sundays: we rarely eat Sunday dinner at home (usually eat at church dinner or at my parent's), but when we do I use the crockpot or make a casserole ahead of time. I have a scrumdiddlyumptious crockpot chicken recipe that I can share with you!

Amandaleann said...

Menu planning has always been a struggle for me too. I like your idea and I am going to try to implement them too. Thanks for sharing.
Amanda Lee

Laura said...

I've gotten out of the menu planning loop during the summer, but I need to get back in soon. I spend more money when I don't have a good plan. I like the way you have a theme for each day of the week. I'm going to try to do that, though I'll have to have a good bit of variety since Adam likes variety. :)