Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Meal Planning

It's all about organization.... and flexibility. Every Sunday or Monday, I compose a "Master Meal-Planning Sheet" and select a few dishes to prepare early in the week. Family activities that impact the dinner hour (or my ability to cook) are listed on the left, the menu goes in the center, and a grocery list goes on the right. Here's what this week's sheet looks like, so far:If we're out all day, I may choose a crock-pot meal that's ready when we get home. When there's little time to spare, a stir-fry is quick and easy. On the rare day when no activities are scheduled, I may experiment with something more elaborate.

My meal-planning sheet looks pretty simple now, but wait a few hours... meetings are added, games or lessons get changed, and the unexpected always arises. By starting with just three or four definite meals, I can make adjustments as needed during the week and, if I'm lucky, have some leftovers for lunches.

A trip to the grocery store is part of my Monday routine, but another stop on Thursday or Friday is inevitable. We always need more milk and produce and, if the beginning of the week has gone as planned, I'll buy fish or meat for a couple more dinners. Also, by later in the week, Margaret may have an idea for a weekend dessert and I can pick up those ingredients, too.

Do you have a meal-planning system, or do you keep a stocked refrigerator and decided day-by-day what's for dinner?


Molly said...

LOVE the organization!!

I have found that with both of us working and final daughter able to drive herself to various social engagements, that it is not often that we are all home for dinner anymore. I have learned to have 3 meals "ready to go" and that usually will allow for leftovers on the other days. Friday night is always take-out pizza in celebration of another week completed :)

Book Psmith said...

I do sit down and plan out meals for the week but no matter how well I plan or how many times I ask everyone what they need...I end up at the store more times during the week than I care to admit:) Your system is a great idea. I like how you plan according to what is happening during that day. I just make a list of dinners that will be made during the week, not always accounting for activities that may throw off the making of a dinner, which leads to eating out which if I had planned more carefully could have been avoided.

Kim said...

When my family was still at home, we always had breakfast and dinner together. I made a schedule of meals, accounting for busy afternoons or evenings of sports, etc. It's harder to cook for two people. (or get excited about it anyway)

I'll ask "what would you like for dinner?" and he says, "whatever your plan is." and I say, "I don't have one." We go out to eat every Friday night now.

The Domestic Adventurer said...

Yea, another meal planner! I start planning our meals for the week every Thursday and I work on it in bits and pieces until I do our shopping on Sunday. It's one chore that I actually really enjoy.

Hopefully, this link will work, I use a meal plan "worksheet" from the Organized Home website and keep them in a notebook so that I can look back on them if I come up short on ideas.

Here's the link if you want to check it out: Meal Plan Sheet

JoAnn said...

Molly - "Ready to go" meals can be a life-saver! Sounds like that system works for you. Friday was our pizza night, too, but we haven't had it lately.

Book Psmith - Unfortunately, I learned the hard way to figure family activities into the meal planning! It really has made life easier.

Kim - I'm sure I won't need to plan meals like this for more than another year or so. R and I try to go out to dinner one night a week - without the girls!

The Domestic Adventurer - You've given me two good ideas! I might try planning in bits and pieces over a few days. I think it would be less of a chore that way. And I love the idea of saving the plans in a notebook - there are some weeks I'm just out of ideas. Thanks for the link, too!

Anonymous said...

I like to make a week plan in the weekend as well (consisting of about 4 days to be flexible and fit in leftovers), but I hadn't thought of adding activities! Smart thinking :) Then again, it's just the two of us here... ;)

JoAnn said...

Gnoegnoe - Having a plan for meals really makes my week a lot easier. It wasn't until we started having so many sporting events and lessons that I thought to add activities to the master plan. The twins are high school juniors now, so in another year I won't have quite so many activities to consider :-(

verity said...

I used to plan meticulously, but since getting ill and rarely fancying whatever I'd planned I have to change things. Since I tend to cook separately for my fiance I do plan his food as he needs quite a good balance of protein for his training.

JoAnn said...

Verity - Ken is very well taken care of... hope he realizes how lucky he is :-)