Sunday, January 30, 2011

Meal Planning

I know. This isn't a fun post. Well, at least you don't think it's fun. But have you tried meal planning? It's revolutionary! It's the Spanx of the food world.

I'll admit, I was reluctant. It immediately made me think of those charts they give you at the hospital when you have a baby. You know, the "please chart your child's poop and pee habits". I can hear every person who doesn't have children saying aloud, "Really? There's such a thing?" Well, I'm hear to tell you that there is. And you actually do it...with the first child. Sort of like scrapbooks, baby books, and taking photos in do it with the first child. Then with the second child you just make crap up.

But anyways, meal planning. I will admit that it's out of my realm of normal, and to me bordered on control freak, but I promise that I won't vacuum under your feet. Why do I love it so after a short one week trial? It saves money, I'm not frantic at 5pm, we're trying new things, and the grocery store is so simple now.

So this is what we did.

-Richie and I sat down together (this in itself is a miracle) and dug through cookbooks, and a Ziploc bag full of clippings, to come up with seven recipes that we wanted to try. On your maiden meal planning voyage it's probably best to plug in a few tried and trues.

-We got together a list of ingredients. Before we declared that list "the official grocery list" we checked the pantry. We immediately crossed off a quarter of the list. See, you haven't even left the house yet and you're saving money.

-I then divided the grocery list up into sections. Meat, dairy, canned goods, etc. This way, when I went into that section of the store I didn't have to go back because I forgot something. This also means that I didn't have to walk past the chip or candy isle (that we don't even enter) with both the kids a second time, and tell them no again.

-Now everything has been gathered. We sat down again (I know! We rock.) We then plugged each meal into a slot for each day of the week. We made Tuesday and Wednesday crock pot and quick meals. Tuesdays are just nuts, and Wednesdays we have church. These are our most hectic dinner days.

That's about it. We have saved so much money and TIME. We aren't going to the store three times a week and managing to waste a ton of gas, time, and money in the process. Richie has what we call a "one bag syndrome". He can't buy only what he was asked to buy, he has to get at least three bags. It probably has something to do with his shoe size and other things (everything is with men), but we won't go there.

As for me, I don't feel stressed about figuring out what to do for dinner at the last minute. I pull out whatever meat we will be needing in the morning, and do any prep work necessary. Half the time it feels like dinner makes itself. And the real shocker of this whole experience has been that lunches appear like magic. There is always leftovers. We eat them for lunch the next day or have a leftover night for dinner.

So call me crazy, or OCD, but I like this. It helps a ton. Give it a whirl!


  1. I am a big fan of the meal plan myself. I tend to be entirely uninspired or want something I have no ingredients for if I don't plan ahead. Plus, now I'm at the grocery store 2x a week, max.(usually the second trip is for milk, since we run out quick.)
    Do you guys get a newspaper for the coupons? I just use what I get in the mail, and they almost never are for things we use or eat.
    Another helpful thing to do, if you have a deep freezer, is keeping a written inventory of it in the kitchen.

  2. We don't get a paper anymore. We used to buy a Sunday paper. Since we don't buy any processed food, I didn't really see a payoff. Instead, we just buy off brand and whatever is on sale. Also, I love the fact that Meijer gives out produce coupons. We buy a ton of produce.