January 28, 2013

Meal Planning Week One

Okay, so it's Monday and I thought we should talk about meal planning a bit.  
 Who's with me?

If you haven't read Edie's posts about long range meal planning here please go do it next.  She has a simple plan that goes over how to add your meals into google calendar on repeat.  She's also got a ton of good recipes.  The repition on your calendar eliminates a whole other level of stress involved in meal planning.  You know, I did okay last week, but what about this week, woes.  I tend to get lazy and this eliminates that for me.  I spent my first day adding in an entire month's worth of recipes on repeat.  I had them set for day of the week each month since I'm only cooking five nights a week.

Truth be told Matthew is involved in our process so he's in charge of cooking freezer meals for our family on Sundays.  This affects my meal planning so I'll be sure to throw those in on Mondays if it includes something to be used later in the week.   For example, Matthew made crock pot barbecue that I can freeze and pull out as needed.

So here's what you need to do next:  Click through and see if you're on board with what I'm cooking.  Substitute for other meals if you'd like or rearrange days.  Then add the meals to your google calendar with the links and full recipes and set to repeat as often as you'd like.
Go through each recipe and write down the ingredients you'll need.  You'll see some repeats so make sure you account for quantity.  Also note where you can substitute in a rotisserie chicken like I plan to do tonight and Wednesday to make things more achievable.

Monday: Barbecue Chicken Pizza
Tuesday: Lemon & Garlic Roast Chicken
Wednesday: Four Cheese Chicken Ravioli with Apple Gorgonzola Sauce
Thursday: Lemon Fusilli with Arugula and Grilled Chicken
Friday: Black Bean and Corn Quessadillas with Chips and Salsa

My friend Natalie swore she enjoyed cooking.  In fact, she considered it her me time.
I thought she was crazy.
I have little kids with needs not just wants in the late afternoon.  They need constant supervision.  We don't have an open floorplan where I can watch them play while I cook.  We have an unbearably small and impractical galley kitchen.  I'm not good at it.
Cooking just doesn't work for me.  It's not possible until my kids are older.

Well my loves, I drank the cool-aid.  After just one week I can proudly say I did it and I'm going to do it again this week.  And the one after that too.

I used some good old fashion tactics and they worked.
 I rearranged the contents of our cabinets and cleared out room for a club house in one of the bottom cabinets.  You'd be amazed at how much this entertains Wells and Tagg.  I also confiscated the iPad for myself.  I put on my pandora stations and pull up my recipe for the day.  Then I poured a glass of wine.  

Of course they were nipping at my heels the whole time but at 12months and not quite 2.5 this is to be expected.  I fed them veggies straight off the cutting board and went about my cooking.  Wells climbed up in her little chair to help me stir a few things.  They both ate everything I cooked last week.

26 comments:

  1. Good for you! I need to start meal planning and getting on a schedule, I just get lazy and I don't really enjoy cooking that much.

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  2. I am so glad you have started to like cooking! I enjoy it so much- problem is I spend way too much money on it because I always want to make new expensive recipes which is why I need to meal plan. I always let Sterling help too- he loves. He has a little knife (not sharp) of course and cutting board and I let him pretend to cut veggies with me. And another friend recommended a tuperware filled with dried beans and measuring cups said it kept her kids occupied for an hour!

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    1. I need to learn to meal plan around weekly sales and couponing but that just seems way too complicated. I don't think this way could cost any more than our nightly take out though!

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  3. Yay! I love you for this! I can't wait to plan and get organized!

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  4. Genius! I'm so going to start doing this. It is so hard for me to plan out meals ahead of time because I work 50-60 hours a week. This is going to help so much! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Even just planning and choosing the meals feels daunting, right? That's the beauty of the repeat on google calendar. It chooses for you!

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  5. Great ideas! I always grocery shop on the weekend and get everything I need for the week. I cook enough for 2 days at a time so I actually only make about 4 dinners (we eat out or do take out on Friday night!).

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  6. This is a fabulous idea! Planning ahead prevents take out which we have been guilty of a little more recently. So checking it out.

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    1. Us too, there are dozens of restaurants within walking distance and we are so guilty of just picking up food!

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  7. When my teens were little, I was in the same boat. No open floor plan and not a lot of experience cooking for a family and it really got to me. I love the kitchen clubhouse idea. Plastic measuring cups, wooden spoons and metal bowls were entertaining at my house.
    Now that I have to cook giant vats of food(3 teens)I have gotten very good at buying in bulk and shopping sales. You'll get there too.

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    1. thanks for the encouragment! I've been hiding toys in there for them to find. It's really pretty cute. I like the idea of bowls and measuring things too to keep them in the cooking frame of mind with me!

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  8. I was really good a out meal planning before the holidays- I need to get back to if! I tried to use some of the same ingredients throughout the week so they wouldn't go bad!

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    1. That's my goal too. I needed lemons for a recipe last week and all they had were bags of lemons so you'll notice two more lemon recipes this week trying to use them up! I can see how it's really easy to miss a week then a month!

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  9. I started meal planning 4 years ago and I can't imagine eating another other way! My whole blog (www.coupon-kitchen.com) is actually centered around 3 weekly meal plans based on grocery store weekly sales and a few simple coupons for people who aren't crazy like me and enjoy it! Stick with it and I'm sure one day you won't remember how you ever went to the grocery store without a week's plan :)

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    1. Hey, thanks for sharing! And for including your blog link. I know I'm off to check it out and I'm sure a lot of my readers could use some help too! Shopping the sales is what I used to do but then I had no clue how to turn that into meals. Now I'm strategizing from the other end :)

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  10. I've tried this off an on for a few years but recently got really into and can not believe how much it has helped. Totally takes the stress out of "what are we going to eat for dinner?". One thing that's worked well for me is online grocery ordering. Harris Teeter has it (here in charleston) and you can place an entire grocery order onine and a few hours later you pull up to their call box outside, they bring a credit card machine out to you and load the bags into your car. It's awesome. Plus I find that I end up spending less because I just buy what I need for the weekly menu and eliminate a lot of the random extra items I used to buy.

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  11. Great minds think alike! I've started posting my weekly menu too. I love the sound of the apple gorgonozla sauce! Maybe you can get some inspiration from mine as well :)
    http://www.danielledeskins.blogspot.com/2013/01/weekly-menu-week-2.html

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  12. I really want to start meal planning...I have everything I need to do it but I just haven't brought myself to sit down and figure out all of the recipe possibilities! I am heading over to read Edie's instructions. I really love cooking but my Mr. works at night right now so it's hard when it is just ME!

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    1. I think too many choices bogged me down at first. Just try adding in five or so recipes that you already know how to make then slowly throw in a newbie for fun!

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  13. Good for you! All of your meals look delish and I think it makes it so much easier to know that you have a plan for dinner. It clears up some mental space in your day.

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  14. Proud of you for doing this, and what great recipes and things you've shared. Thanks!

    Sheila

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  15. You are inspiring me sister. I am sans open floor plan as well and with all the late afternoon chaos I have grown to DREAD the hours of 3:30 - 5:30. I love your ideas and I'm thinking I need to get on board.

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  16. This is so inspiring to read. I dread cooking dinner, but you have given me great ideas. Keep posting this every week!!

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  17. Since two out of the three kiddos have food "issues" I have to plan all of our meals. Once I got into the habit it was not as overwhelming. Also, if I try a new recipe one night I am sure to follow it with a fav of the kiddos the next night. For some weird reason that seems to help.

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  18. I have been SEARCHING for a great post or two about meal planning. This was just what I was looking for, planning from a fresh start and just the basics. I can't wait for the next post!

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  19. Oh my goodness, it is so hard to cook with little ones, isn't it? However, I've vowed to do more meal planning in 2013 too so count me in. In the long run it makes my week so much easier.

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