Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Meal Planning

I love to cook.  It's been a hobby of mine since my childhood, when I cooked pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches for my hordes of siblings (that would be for breakfast and lunch, and hordes is actually more like 6).  If there is anything that might sap that love, though, it's trying to get three square meals on the table every single day.  It was a lot easier when I just had to feed two mature adults, and I had time and energy to think about what masterpiece I would cook.  Of course, most of that time I was either commuting 2.5 hours a day to grad school, or we were both in grad school and had a limited budget.  Oh well. 
There are certainly strategies to make this easier.  Some people have set categories for certain days, like Taco Tuesday or Meatless Monday.  Growing up, we had Busch's baked beans with hot dogs every Wednesday before going to AWANA.  It was easy, everyone liked it, and my mom didn't have to worry about getting dinner on the table while we were running around trying to get everything together.  Another strategy is to have a core set of meals, maybe 10, that you just rotate through every two weeks with some wild cards thrown in.
Neither of those is appealing to me, though, because I get bored too easily.  I've never gotten into the set categories thing, because that is much too limiting and constricting.  Same thing with the core rotations.  Granted, I have a list of freezer meals that I make when certain things go on sale, but I still pull them out of the freezer at random to serve for dinner.  This past spring I leaned very heavily on the freezer, and I got kind of bored of a) freezer meals, and b) figuring out dinner at 3:30.  It IS a bit stressful to not have some kind of plan for meals.  So this summer I've been trying some meal planning. 
I usually try to choose recipes based on what veggies and protein  are on sale at our local grocery store.  Wednesdays are double ad day, which is nice, but I just couldn't get my meal planning done on Tuesday. Now I do it Sunday evening and go shopping on Monday.  Although we don't get quite the variety of fruit that we were, it actually kind of helps to limit my options.  I have a couple places that I look for recipe ideas right now--my Food Network Magazine (thanks, Mom!), my pinterest page, the Fine Cooking website.  It's been working for the last few weeks, it's pretty fun and less stressful to have a plan, and I think we've spent less money and wasted less food this way.  We'll see how long it lasts. 


  1. The few weeks that I'm in Lancaster (and cooking for two rather than resorting to cheese and crackers for dinner when I'm by myself) I've taken to meal planning and I love it. I've been working my way through the Smitten Kitchen cookbook I got for Christmas, so since Christmas I usually start with that and what's already around and needs to be used. I also like meal planning to because it helps me look at the week and make sure there's a decent balance/mixture of proteins and non/vegetarian meals. I definitely think it helps waste less food.

  2. I've heard so many good things about the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. I'd like to put it on my christmas list, but I'm not sure I want to wait that long. :) The next thing on my list is to redo my pinterest pages and organize them by protein/vegetable so that when something is on sale (like chicken thighs or zucchini), I can just go right to that page.