Cutting Costs in the Kitchen- When Menu Planning Doesn’t Go as Planned

Cutting Costs in the Kitchen- When Menu Planning Doesn't Go as Planned

Meal Planning

I actually love to meal planning. I have all kinds of meal plans, including 6 weeks of Trim Healthy Mama meals plans, 2 months worth of Weight Watcher meal plans, not to mention all the meal plans I have previously made. My problem is follow through. I love to make meal plans but I don’t follow it. Part of it is that doesn’t sound good today  Sometimes I lose them or forget to check it.  A lot of it is lack of discipline but I think most of it is just because I learned it differently.

Organize

In my previous post Cutting Cost in the Kitchen – Meats    I talked about following sales cycles and buying meat for rock bottom prices. Now I know I have more freezer space than the average person and right now they’re messy. I try and straighten them out about once a month but it’s been about 3 due to surgery. I have 2 fridges with small freezers on the top and a small chest freezer that I hate. What I really want an upright freezer since they would be so much easier to organize. In my mind, it is always looks organized and styled with pretty bins and I can find everything. But since I don’t have one, I keep an inventory list. I keep a list with boxes with a line through it for inventory and had a line to make an x when I use it. Then,  I add in boxes or a new line with the item when I buy more. I also keep ( what is actually for photos) a book with index cards for meals. I use this for my kind of meal planning.

My KInd of Plan

As I said I don’t plan anymore in the traditional sense but I do plan ahead. I keep freezer inventory of main dishes and meats since that’s what we use for dinner. I have my little “photo planner” that is filled with index cards. My first one says menu plan. Serve 1 main dish category, salad, side or starch, vegetable,  and bread. Now, this may seem excessive to you. In fact, I am trying to serve less and simplify a lot of things this year and am starting with this. I was taught this by my grandmother and she was a farmers wife. And the menu for thrashing parties and hay balers was twice as much. But we don’t need to eat like farm hands.  I saw Gordon Ramsey’s Ultimate Home Cooking on Hulu. He only serves 2-3 dishes per meal. And he’s a chef!!  So I decided if he did that small for meals I could at least try to do that also.

Menu Index Book

My menu index card also has “suggestions” for each day of the week. Example- Monday-Chicken; Tuesday- Pork or Fish; Wednesday- Italian; Thursday- Mexican; Friday is Pizza and movie night; Saturday we try and do a big breakfast, the same with Sunday. Saturday is beef for supper and Sunday dinner is chicken, usually something in the crockpot. For lunch or supper on the weekend that I don’t make a big meal, we usually have leftovers or soup. I make a big pot on the weekend and freeze the rest so we can always have soup. I have 4 different kinds in my freezer now.

Anyway, I have index cards for categories with our family favorites in each.

Salads

Main Dish Salads

Soups

Sandwiches

Lunches

Snacks

Sides

Bread

Chicken

Italian

Mexican

Beef

Pork

Fish

The last cards are for hospitality. And I covered that here.

 

Daily Meal Routine

So then that day, while I’m cooking dinner, I think about the next day. And I pull out of the freezer whatever I want for the next day. Then I cross it off my list. Somedays the children pull what they want for the next night. I do have a plan as listed above that I sometimes follow but I have the flexibility to change.  I keep both my pantry and my freezer stocked so that I can plan meals from the staples and meals I have in there. Since I have the main ingredients it makes it easier. Now I know doing this all at the beginning of the week would probably be the smartest thing to do. I have read books on meal planning.  I know it makes sense. But if you’re like me and have trouble following it, try this way of “planning”.

What do you do for meal planning?

 

 

 

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