Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Meal Planning System

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that I used to plan meals for every week night, and I posted the plan on my blog. And for a while, planning meals for every week night really made life a lot easier. Dinner time went from being stressful to being enjoyable.

However, planning meals for each night wasn’t without problems. For one, people (hubby and the teenager, who lived at home at the time) came to expect a certain meal on a certain night. And sometimes I just didn’t feel like cooking what was “on the plan.” Imagine the disappointment when they walked in the door and said, “I’m really looking forward to the hamburgers tonight,” and I said, “Oh. I changed it to veggie stir fry with tofu.” And even when they didn’t care, I felt like I “should” make the meal that was on the plan for that night. Also, writing the meal plan, making a grocery list, and then going shopping turned into quite the chore, and I felt like I had lost some spontaneity in picking up what I felt like.

So I changed my system. Now, I write down meals on a white board, and I make them when I feel like it (keeping veggies that are getting old in mind of course). This new system has been working great. It works great to incorporate our CSA veggies and the produce we pick up from the Farmers’ Market into our meals. It’s a nice balance between structure (because I have a plan) and flexibility (in being able to choose what I feel like on any given night).

Here is what the whiteboard looks like (yes, my handwriting is extremely messy. But, hey, this is real life…):




Last night, we had ramen with a ton of spinach and cilantro from the CSA. I ate almost all the kimchi by myself… I think hubby (who usually eats a lot less kimchi than I do) would have liked some more... Oops...



Finally, do you remember the watermelon the toddler bought at the Farmers’ Market? Well, it turned out it was yellow. He loved it and ate about 95% of it all by himself… Smile




Questions: Do you plan meals? If so, what’s your system? Are you flexible when it comes to your planned meals? Do you ever get tired of planning meals? If you don’t plan meals, how do you decide what to eat? 

Be well,
Andrea

15 comments:

  1. I love this system - it sounds very similar to what I do! We plan different meals for the week but never assign a day to them! I actually love planning the meals so that it gives me an opportunity to try new recipes because I'm not very creative if I were just to walk into the grocery store without a plan!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great system. Iam pretty flexible with mine. Oh and thanks so much for the tips.:)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm really flexible when planning meals...really I don't make a weekly plan, but just try to utilize as many ingredients I have on-hand as much as possible. I'd love some yellow watermelon!

    ReplyDelete
  4. You are so good. That sounds like the best of both worlds. I didn't realize that so many people do plan their meals- I was shocked when I was kitty-sitting my (totally normal, without food, eating or body weight issues) neighbor had a meal plan out for the week!

    I never plan meals ahead of time but we usually talk about it a day in advance based on what we have/what is going to go bad/what we're craving. What messes any 'plans' up is if one of us goes out to eat and brings home leftovers.

    One day I want to look in my pantry and start making food plans to specifically use up canned/jarred/packaged foods that need to be eaten.

    Love the yellow watermelon! I wonder if it tastes different!?

    ReplyDelete
  5. You know i'm pretty passionate about meal planning! I'm flexible about WHEN I eat which meal, but try to stick to the meals I plan to eat! I enjoy it and don't get tired of it, although it gets a bit wonky when my husband is out of town! (lots of meals end up frozen and "rolled over"). Here is how I do it:

    http://fittingbackin.blogspot.com/2009/10/how-i-plan-meals-8-steps.html

    ReplyDelete
  6. i am SO the same way. while i like to have a plan, sometimes something else just sounds way too good or i am just not feeling something. i like to think of a plan as just a rough guide :)

    i don't think i told you, but it was SO GOOD to meet you at foodbuzz! i only wish we had more time to chat. i did not realize how crazy and busy it would be with so many bloggers. have a great night andrea :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm a kimchi addict, too. ;)

    I do plan most of my meals because I'm often testing recipes to write about. So, being organized about it makes the process easier. But I also think you have to be flexible just as you mentioned. Sometimes, your day doesn't go as planned or you run out of time or you can't find a particular item you desperately need for a dish. At those times, I improvise. And the more you do of it, the better you get at it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. sounds like a great system!

    i hit the grocery store 4 days a week so i usually don't plan meals in advance. (no other options really. we don't have a car and a girl can only carry so much.) at least our produce is always fresh and we rarely waste things! :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I plan 7 meals each week, and we eat them on whatever night I feel like making them! Meal planning saves me money and time!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Andrea, I did plan meals when I was working and the children were still at home. I don't do it any longer because after all those years it's nice to be spontaneous. Your little guy is a doll. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

    ReplyDelete
  11. Haha, I use a white board too. I have a corkboard/white board and I write my shopping list and tack it up and list where I found the recipe, and then I write it on the board and have instructed Ryan he can veto a meal or write requests for the future up there. I have just started this and I find I have much less food waste this way.

    ReplyDelete
  12. We definitely plan meals...keeps our grocery bill down but we are also flexible. I try to use ingredients that can make multiple dishes, that way if we don't feel like one thing, the ingredients still get used in another dish!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I don't plan meals, I just go with the flow. I've never had yellow watermelon.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I use to do meal planning but ran into the same issues as you! I really like your new idea to have specific meals in mind with planned days to make them. These days I usually go to the grocery store with the week's events in my head so I can buy accordingly; quick cooking meals for nights where we're out of the house, roasts for the crock pot and items that I can prepare on a stay home night.

    ReplyDelete
  15. My meal planning system is very similar to yours. I plan out meals for the week and then cook based on what I feel like cooking and based on what fresh ingredients need to be used.

    ReplyDelete