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Meal Planning: Winter 2011

January 4, 2011

One of our family goals not just for 2011, but in general, is to simplify our meal planning.  After viewing the Oh Baby O meal planning poll results, I have a feeling B & I may not be alone.  80% of you that participated meal plan at least some of the time (good for you!) but only 43% plan regularly.  Until recently, B & I usually found ourselves among the 80%, but we never had a method that felt truly solid.

Our old meal planning method was to sit down every two weeks and plan fourteen days worth of individual meals and write a grocery list accordingly.  It worked, kind of, but we usually found ourselves back at the store several times picking up just a “little something” and eventually totally blowing our grocery budget.

leeks for potato leek soup

During the holidays I picked up a copy of “Simplicity Parenting“.  It’s a wonderful read that I feel speaks directly to our parenting style.  One way the author suggests to simplify meals is to do just that, simplify…  Assign each night of the week a particular meal and go with it.  Easy as that!

Previously, I might have thought this boring or even constrictive, but thinking of this method in terms of simplification and rhythm, it couldn’t make more sense!  When we free ourselves from the chaos of trying to choose 14 different meals for 14 days (not to mention breakfasts, lunches, and snacks), we are able to focus more intently on exploring and expanding our familiar choices.  Also, by knowing every Tuesday, in one form or another, we will have tacos (much to B’s delight), our family is provided with an additional sense of rhythm and security around our meals.

Winter 2011 Meal Plan:
Monday: Soup/Sandwiches or Left-Overs
Tuesday: Tacos
Wednesday: Pasta
Thursday: Fish
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Wild Card
Sunday: Slow Food

As you can see, the categories are fairly vague.  This is intentional as we want our choices to be narrowed but not constrictive.  We’ve also decided to switch things up with the seasons.  This helps us commit to eating seasonally, but it also gives us the opportunity to add variety.

So, tell me, how do you meal plan?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Katie permalink
    January 4, 2011 9:54 am

    we always seem to fail, or maybe not FAIL but fall away from meal planning for the same reasons you have mentioned. DH prefers different food as we do get tired of the same thing over and over, but perhaps I can follow in your example. Now If only both kids ate EVERYTHING we cook :)

    • January 4, 2011 1:17 pm

      I’d love to hear how it works out for you if you decide to give this a try! We’re really excited about it :) Luckily for us, O isn’t a picky eater (but he is sometimes to busy to care about food).
      What we found when just planning day by day is that we would get stressed over trying to come up with different things and end up defaulting and eating the same ol’ thing anyway. Now that we know we’ll be eating soup on Monday, we can take our time to decide what kind of soup… See what I mean?

  2. Amanda permalink
    January 4, 2011 2:53 pm

    Okay, so now you have me thinking. Our method of meal planning was the same as yours, plan 7 days worth of meals and make a list. The problem is that you do end up eating the same things and I almost always ended up having to go back to the store for something. I think this is an awesome idea because you can go to the store without a list and know that you need pasta, soup, etc., plus it gives you opportunity for variety. I hate the everyday hurdle of “what are we going to have for dinner tonight?” even when we have a week of meals planned and this would certainly help with that.

    • January 4, 2011 7:47 pm

      Well, we still write a list for pasta or soup ingredients, but it certainly does simplify the list-writing!

  3. January 7, 2011 8:14 pm

    I find that I spend more money when I meal plan, because I am buying ingredients for each meal, snack and lunch. Rather, I spend the budget on the same cart load of food every two weeks – 2 chickens, 3 lbs onions, two bags of pasta, etc…- then, I just wing it all week, restricting myself to what I have on hand. I spent years working my way through cookbook after cookbook, so our list of meals that we like is quite long and I don’t find myself getting into ruts very often. I enjoy the flexiblity and the opportunities for creativity. Some of the best meals come from, “Okay, I have two lbs ground beef, a couple of eggplants and a can of soup. What can I make with this?” :)
    This is also good, I think, in that I cook what I feel like eating to a certain extent. I also have to resort to beans and rice meals when I use up the more exciting food before the next payday. :)

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