Monday, September 22, 2008

Back to Menu Planning

When I was a teenager one of my duties around the house was to plan the meals for the week and do the grocery shopping. When my husband and I first moved in together I continued the practice of planning the meals for the week while I was writing my grocery list. Over the last few years I have gotten very lax about planning our meals. That has resulted in us eating out more and having more arguments in the evening over what is for dinner. I feel like missing this one simple thing caused a lot more stress in our lives. So now I am working on getting back to planning weekly meals.

I feel like there are a lot of benefits from planning out our meals for the week. The biggest benefit I see is the reduction in stress from trying to figure out what to have for dinner when we both just got home from a full day of work. We should also save money because we will be using what we have on hand, I can plan meals around the sales for the week and we will be eating out less. When we don’t have anything planned we tend to eat out more often because everything is frozen and neither one of us wants to deal with defrosting and cooking. Another good benefit is that we should see a reduction in the amount of food we throw away each week. Before I plan my meals for the week I check the fridge to see what items need to be used up that week. All of these benefits make it well worth my time to sit down and plan out our meals for the week.

When I plan our meals for the week I only plan six dinners. This leaves one night open for leftovers or going out. You will also notice that I typically don’t plan side dishes. We keep various veggies on hand in the freezer so we just grab whatever we feel like when we’re cooking each night. I also don’t assign any particular meal to any particular day. I just post the list of the six meals on the fridge and we decide in the morning or the night before what our next meal is going to be.

For our lunches we typically take leftovers or a sandwich. I try to keep a container or two of lunchmeat in the fridge. The containers cost a little more then the lunchmeat from the deli, but they last longer when you don’t open them. Just make sure that you check the dates on them when you’re buying them. I tend to stock up when I can combine a sale and a coupon. As an emergency lunch I also keep some cans of soup in my desk. There have been days where I’ve walked out of the house without lunch. This saves me from having to buy lunch out.

Breakfasts are never really planned in our house. We have a lot of cereal and granola bars on hand for weekday breakfasts. On Saturdays we typically go out for breakfast and on Sunday we have breakfast at my parent’s house. I think breakfast and lunch and the easiest for me since I don’t really have to plan them, just make sure we have the necessities on hand.

Now that I have resolved to get back to my menu planning we will have to see how it goes. Last week was my first week back to planning and it went very well. So far this week is looking good too. We have all the food on hand. Now I just need to use it.

Do you typically plan meals in your house? How does it work for you?

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