Monday, 5 March 2012

Meal Planning

Meal planning is something that I have been thinking about for awhile. I really enjoy cooking, but find that the majority of the time when I want to cook something a little "off the menu" (i.e. not meat, potato and a veggie) I am usually missing one or more of the ingredients. So we usually end up eating almost the same thing night after night.

Thanks to Pinterest (if you're not addicted yet, check it out) I finally got the kick in the butt I needed to sit down an do some meal planning.

My original inspiration came from here:

I knew that if I was going to do this 2 things had to happen;

#1. It needed to be out in the open so I was reminded to do it once a week.
#2. It needed to look nice and be organized, otherwise it would just tick me off every time I looked at it.

So after a trip to the Dollar Store, this is what I came home with:

  • Magnetic Board
  • Coloured Recipe Cards
  • Magnetic Strip
  • Container to hold the Recipe Cards

I started with the recipes. I decided that I would have 5 separate categories; Beef (blue), Chicken (red), Lamb & Pork (teal), Fish & Seafood (yellow) and Other (white). I chose 10 of our favourite beef & chicken recipes, 5 Lamb/Pork recipes and 5 Fish/Seafood recipes to start. My Type 'A' personality likes everything to look the same, so I typed all the recipes into a word document using a recipe card template. On the front side of the card is the name and ingredients for the recipe, on the back is the instructions. Once I had everything typed out, I printed them off onto the appropriate colored card.

I plan to laminate each of the cards so they don't get too grubby looking and continue to add more recipes.  I thought I'd start with a few and move on from there as I remember other recipes or try new ones to add to the list.

Next was the board. Since I bought a colored magnetic board, I decided all I needed was 'Menu' and magnets with the days of the week. I am currently improvising until I can get these cut out using my Cricut machine and scrapbooking paper.

Lastly is to put the plan into action. Since Blade attends preschool on Mondays, I decided to designate Monday as my shopping day since I have to go to town anyways. This made Sunday as my planning day and my meals run from Monday to Sunday.
Sunday I sit down a choose my 7 meals for the week. Since we get beef and lamb from my parents and have to buy chicken, pork and fish, I decided that we would eat 3 beef meals, 2 lamb/pork meals, 1 chicken meal, and 1 fish/seafood meal each week so we only have to buy meat for 2-3 meals in each week.
Once I have chose my recipes, I sit down and write a grocery list, checking to make sure I'm not going to buy anything that I already have in the house.

Now about that 'Other' category. This is for anything that my brain doesn't see fitting anywhere else.  These are not recipes, but include categories like:

  • Pizza - We don't eat pizza a lot, but I like to have a couple in the deep freeze for when I want something really easy and don't want to cook or we sometimes pick one up on the way home.
  • Resaurant - For nights we are planning to eat out.
  • YOYO (You're On Your Own) - aka. Leftovers

We just about to start week 4 and I have already discovered that I am a lot happier with this system. I'm not sitting at 4 o'clock wondering what the heck to make for supper and rummaging through the fridge, deep freeze and cupboards to see what I can throw together. The other bonus, after doing a big shop at Costco the first week, I did not have to grocery shop for weeks 2 & 3 (other then for things like milk & fruit) I had enough ingredients in the house to make another 2 weeks worth of meals! This is a big bonus in the grocery budget and the fact that I am throwing away less food that I had bought with intention but then forgot about what I was going to make. 

To further my organized self, I also plan to take my friend Robyn Beazleys advice and create a spreadsheet of items we regularly buy. Check out her great post about Price Comparison here.

Do you meal plan in your family? Does it work for you? Any great tips to make it easier?

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