This Post is Number 3 in a 4 part series I am doing on Meal Planning
Have you missed Part 1 and 2?
Wondering why you should meal plan? Click here to read Meal Planning #1 One Way I keep my Sanity
Wondering What are the important components of meal planning? How much time does this really take?
So, We have covered the basics… Here is what this looks like in reality…
When you start to Meal Plan you need to decide if you want to:
1) Plan every meal.
2) How often do you want to plan? Weekly? Monthly
Our First Meal Planning System:
For years I have had a relatively simple meal planning system. I only had a plan set up for dinners. Breakfast and lunch just wasn’t that important for me to plan. We were very predicable at those meals.
One day I gathered all of my cookbooks and recipe copies around me and made a list of any recipe I had tried and knew my family liked to eat for dinner. I organized the recipes by meat type (meat, poultry, vegetarian, fish…). Behind the recipe title I noted an abbreviated book title, page and the cut of meat that is in the recipe. I did this on the computer so I could easily edit.
Because I LOVE to try new recipes I also had a list of recipes I really wanted to try. As I cooked a new recipe it either graduate to the main list or disappeared from the “Try it” List.
When I went to Meal Plan (Usually for two weeks) I made a list of dinners and as we made them I would check them off. I also put a star in front of meals that had perishables that needed to be used at the beginning of the planning period.
This system had many benefits for me:
- Hubby input:
I could easily ask my husband what he would like me to add to the menu list for the next month. I would just hand him the notebook and he would look through it letting me know his fancy. Before the list I would ask what he would like to eat for dinners and I would see a blank look on his face that said “Huh? I have no idea”.
I didn’t like the idea of having meals assigned to a day and having a whole month planned in advance. I know many people use that technique but I didn’t feel it was for me. I love to think “what am I in the mood to have this week?”. I also wanted to take advantage of my “Try It” List on a regular basis.
- Meat Purchases
I do not like to buy meat at regular price. I find the costs are sometimes outrageous! This list was organized by meats and cuts. Each was noted behind the recipe.
- Easy Recipe finding:
With each Book noted with page number I didn’t spend hours trying to figure out where a recipe came from.
I LOVE my magazines, folders of gathered recipes and cookbooks but they can easily become overwhelming
FYI This system also had some DISadvantages:
- Where do I put pizza? Something with two types of meat?
I usually had these kind of meals in one of the meat lists. I eventually started a casserole/ Pizza section but that made the organization a bit strange.
- Too many options:
Though I loved the flexibility it was also a weakness. I started the system when I had one child. Now with three children, teaching school, community activities and normal household care I found it was sometimes too many options.
- “What’s for Dinner?”
I still had to answer the “What’s for Dinner” question because meals were not assigned days. I had to first decide what option to get prepped for in the morning and think about meals that needed more than a couple hours of prep (like the need to thaw a ham or soak beans overnight)
This system was relatively simple to keep up with and set up. It definitely worked better than the previous chaos. However, after several years, two more children and the addition of schooling from home, these disadvantages became amplified. It was time for a change
In Meal Planning Part 4 I will share the changes to led to the new plan that we have been using for about a year now.
I LOVE the changes. Remember the need to be flexible? It has had to be integrated several times… even when using our new plan, that I love…
The Frabjus Lady