Sunday, April 16, 2006

Meal Planning

Okay Shawn - this post is for you! Shawn recently posted on his blog about his struggle with planning and shopping for their family meals. So I figured I'd put out there how I do it and if it helps - great - if not, I've exposed my Virgo dorkiness for anyone who is interested.

Once upon a time, B.C. (before children) I would stop at the little market at the bottom of the hill after work. I'd pick up something that looked good for dinner and then walk up the very steep hill home. Even after A was born I did daily shopping because it got us out of the house and into the neighborhood. Then daughter number two came along and I was suddenly faced with a two year old and a newborn who cried. A lot. And anyone who has raised kids knows about the witching hour - that hour right before dinner when everything seems to melt down. This is when I began planning our meals because I discovered if I knew what we were having for dinner I could make most of it in the morning. Even when I went back to work I stuck with it because I could do some prep the night before if I knew what was on the menu. Oh, and that baby who wouldn't stop crying? She just got her braces off:

So here is what I do - on Sundays I sit down and take a look at the calendar for the coming week. Does dh have any evening meetings? Are there any school performances? That sort of thing. I have sort of a loose "theme" for each night - only because this helps me come up with something and keeps us from having pasta four times in a week!

Monday: Italian - this is easy as there are countless pasta recipes, endless combinations for a pizza etc
Tuesday: Mexican (aka Taco Tuesday)
Wednesday: for lack of a better description it's Comfort Food - casseroles- that sort of thing
Thursday: soup, sandwiches, crockpot stew
Friday: take out
Saturday: usually on Saturday we are either going to dinner at someone's house or hosting dinner. This is a night when I bust out the cookbooks and try new recipes.
Sunday: Asian - Thai, Persian, Indian etc. This started mostly because H went through a phase of eating very little other than rice so I liked to start the week with a lot of leftover rice.

If you keep track on a calendar you can go back and easily repeat a complete week of menus. I keep a pretty well stocked pantry and often end up doing a lot of my shopping at a small, local produce store.

So there ya go.


jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

Thank you for the meal planning tips! I typically have 2-3 ideas for the week (hopefully) but I want to plan things out better and sorta have a routine.

primaryconsumer said...

I don't think your a dork! :) I love your meal planning strategy! I used to plan meals but now I never know what my sister will bring home from day to day, so it's just a waste of time. (My sister works at a health food store and brings home all the old produce.) By the way, I should be getting my braces off soon! I cannot wait.

Shawn Powers said...

Thanks Nancy!!!

You mentioned your themed menu to me before, but for some reason it seemed to complicated at the time.

Now that I've tried (and failed) to set up meal plans, I see the beauty of themed days! It makes deciding "what" a lot easier!

I think I'll put my wife to the task of setting up a plan sheet, complete with appropriate clipart for each day. (She is a creative type, and would find it more fun to meal plan if there is a creative way to plan...)

Thanks a ton -- I'm honored to have a blog post dedicated to me!

Michelle said...

i do once a week meal planning too.. not themed like yours, but i ask the kids and hubby for one meal each that they'd like to have in the upcoming week (so there's at least one meal that they get excited about LOL), then i try to plan meals for 5 nights. night #6 is generally something i pull from the freezer and meal #7 is usually take out/eating a friends house.

then i serve them in no particular order.. just what ever i feel like preparing that night (aka the easy recipes on busy nights, the more time consuming ones on easy going days).

lunches are either leftovers or soup and sandwiches; snacks are crackers, fruits/veggies and dip.

my kids are still young (4.5 and 2.5), and i can't even imagine having a teenager yet! what's that like? your daughter is beautiful by the way!

Nancy said...

Jess - I think even having a few nights planned out helps - I just really dislike last minute trips to the store

PrimaryConsumer - it's great that your sister can bring stuff home. I bet you're good at improvising! You'll love having your braces off!

Shawn - I'm sure you guys will find something that works for you. And mine isn't carved in stone - it's just a way to get my brain outside the spaghetti, tacos, repeat mode.

Michelle - I switch nights around if something comes up or if things don't go as planned. And it has sort of developed around Tues and Thurs being the most busy with sports and music. I can't speak for all teenagers but mine are great - I'm enjoying seeing the people they are becoming. I feel very lucky but so far so good (at nearly 15 and 17)! Thanks for commenting!

EatPeacePlease said...

Great ideas. Do you have a "taco night" post? I'd love to see ingredients and even a photo.

Your daughter is beautiful.

Nancy said...

Leslie - here are some of the Taco Tuesday posts. And thanks - I think my daughters *are* pretty darn cute :-)







Isil S. said...

I found you trough Fat Free Vegan Blog and enjoyed reading your posts.

Dori said...

Nancy, I kind of try your style of organization (themed night and schedule checking), but also go by what's on sale or what I need to use up to help with meal planning ideas.

May I link you on my blog?
Great post!