Friday, March 11, 2011

Organizing Challenge, Week 10

This week's assignment is Meal Planning. Yea, something I'm already doing! Woohoo!

The Past
Once upon a time, I did not plan our meals ahead of time. And 5 o'clock would come and nothing was defrosted and I would call my husband and ask him to bring home take-out. That is not a good system!

The Present
Currently, my system is to plan meals and make a grocery list every Sunday. Probably my most helpful tip is: I keep track of what we've eaten on a calendar. {I use whatever free calendar I've received from charities, church, or businesses.} I use a dry-erase weekly calendar where I write the meal plan for the week (you can see it in this post) so on Sunday I'll write whatever we've eaten for the week on the meal calendar. That way, when I'm stuck for ideas for what to cook, I look back through the calendar. Sadly we are in a terrible rut and rotate the same darn foods over and over, so at least the calendar helps us not eat the same thing more than once a week. ;-)

I'm not sure that paragraph made sense. I have a dry-erase one-week calendar on my fridge. It iwrite the meal we're going to eat on each day. At the end of the week, I transpose whatever we've eaten that week into the paper 12-month calendar where I keep track of all the meals we've eaten. Does that help?

Okay, so I take out the 12-month calendar. I take a scratch piece of paper and list S M T W Th F. I rarely plan ahead Saturday or the next Sunday. That's definitely a weakness in my plan, but right now it's hard even to come up with 5 meals. By Sunday, we usually know what we're having that day (since my parents join us for dinner after they babysit the kids while we go to 5pm mass), then I plan M thru F. And I write the necessary ingredients on the grocery list. Also, once I've come up with 5 meals, I'll move them around to different days based on things like not having the same meat 2 days in a row and putting the toughest recipe on one of my easier days. And I sketch out side dishes too. That was something I often failed to do in the early days of meal planning. That way I don't make mashed potatoes with burgers on Tuesday only to realize on meatloaf day, darn I wish we hadn't eaten mashed on Tuesday. Etc.

This week has been a bit weird due to the beginning of Lent {no meat plus fasting on Ash Wednesday and no meat today, a Friday in Lent} so I'll share last week's menu instead.

Sun: burgers {we use frozen patties}
M: spaghetti and meatballs {we use frozen meatballs}
T: enchiladas {this is a time-consuming recipe so I did it on an easy day}
W: pork chops
Th: mayonnaise chicken
F: arcihera {we buy a marinated skirt steak from a Mexican market and grill it}
Sat: burgers {it's very unusual to have the same thing twice in one week, but burgers are currently my son's favorite food so we didn't mind having it a second time}

Sorry, but since I'm going off my calendar, this doesn't include side dishes. I apologize.

Oh and another issue in our meal planning is: what will L eat? He has tons of food issues stemming from allergies, many of which he's outgrown, but his diet hasn't expanded to include everything we eat. So we have to plan, okay we're eating burritos, L will have a quesadilla. If we have pork chops, what will L eat instead? A leftover burger. Kind of a pain--but better to plan ahead.;-)

Okay, so since this is supposed to be a challenge, I thought I'd add some meal planning goals.

1) I would like to try new recipes. As I said, we're in a serious rut. But if I try new recipes too often, we get discouraged because so many flop. So perhaps once a week or even every other week, I'll put a new recipe on the menu.

2) I would like to do some freezer cooking. Tons of the blogs I read talk about loading up your freezer with meals for the crazy nights when you'd otherwise get take-out. Sadly, my freezer is already frequently full to the brim, so I'll have to do this thoughtfully, but I have had success making up an extra batch of pancakes to freeze and nuke on weekday mornings.

3) Breakfasts are currently a challenge for me, neither of the kids eats much--and I'm in such a daze I serve the same thing over and over. So it would probably do me good to plan some breakfasts ideas when I'm meal-planning on Sundays.

4) And I should really plan for Saturday and even the following Sunday.

Okay, I will keep you posted as I head for these new goals. For more One Year to a {More} Organized Life, head over to Unsolicited Advice.

Do you plan your meals ahead?

1 comment:

Brenners said...

Hmmm... love the idea of keeping track of meals on the calendar to make it easy to look back and find meals.