help me with meal planning
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  1. #1
    Registered User emtmama04's Avatar
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    Default help me with meal planning

    Where did you start?

    Please, give me all the ideas you have with this about the meal planning, keeping track and everything.

    TIA

    I need to do this so that it does not come 1 hr before supper or lunch and i have no clue on the meal.

    Lunch since my kids are homeschooled thru a virtual school.

  2. #2
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    I start with what I have in the house that needs to be eaten first. At the moment that's fresh shell peas (and corn) so we'll probably have pea soup (hot or cold) for dinner. After that, I figure out what else i have that fits?

    We had pasta and steak bits yesterday, so I'm likely to do a vegetarian meal. If I buy tomatoes at work (I work at a farm stand) OR decide to use the red bell pepper I got yesterday and make stuffed peppers or tomatoes with rice. The rice and peas are both grains, hmmm....

    Also we have corn to eat up and it's old, so I'll cook that early too and make corn, more sauted onion (maybe some celery), and probably a little chili powder as a side dish.

    Ok. Here's what I'm planning. I'll cook the rice this afternoon before I go to work. I'll either buy tomatoes to stuff or use the bell pepper and stuff them with rice and sauted onion and I may grab a small bit of celery from the garden for color.

    Menu:

    cold fresh pea soup
    onion, celery, rice stuffed bell pepper (or tomatoes) cooked in the microwave
    fresh corn relish



    Perhaps I'l make dessert, but not likely!

    I don't have kids. I don't make more than usually 2 things at a time if I'm starting late. If I start early like this, I'll make things part way and then "finish" them for dinner. Unless I cook in two stages like this, I rarely spend more than 30 minutes cooking unless I'm doing a roast or something like it.

    IHTH!

    Judi

  3. #3
    Registered User justpeachy92's Avatar
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    When planning my meals I first take into consideration any food that I already of on hand that needs to be used up. I also look at the calendar to have an idea of what activities we have going on. Most Wed. my kids like to go to the library activity at 4:30 and then they have youth group at the church at 6pm. I pretty much know on Wed. to plan something that is quick and simple or done in the crock pot. After knowing what days I need quick and easy on, I then look at the sale papers to see what is on sale.
    Last week one of the stores near me had bacon buy 2 packs get 3 free. This week I know that I need quick and easy meal on Tues. and Wed. Tues. will be BLT sandwiches with fruit salad, and Wed. will be pork bbq done in the crockpot. Pork roasts are on sale for 99 cents a pound. I will cook it now and we will get dinner out of it, and then the rest I will freeze for a future need a quick meal.

  4. #4
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    There are lots of methods, it's a matter of which one works for you....that's the tough part (LOL).

    Something as simple as taking some 3x5-inch index cards and writing down your favorite meals (one meal per card), and creating a file divided by type of meats used. So you can go through the cards and pull together a weeks worth of meals and buy groceries accordingly. The meals can also be based on what's in the freezer - you might need 2 meals that use ground beef, 2 that use chicken, and one pork, etc...

    I tend to follow a less structured method that might work for you. With this method I can change one day for another, or even leave a day out, if necessary, without too much trouble. I also use foods already cooked and waiting in the freezer. I make many base meals or foods once in large batches, and thaw them in the refrigerator when needed.

    Monday - Big Meal

    This includes a large cut of meat and all the trimmings. The leftovers are used for other meals during the week, sandwiches for lunches, the base for soup (chicken or turkey carcass) or portioned and frozen to use at a later date.

    Tuesday - Leftovers

    This may or may not take on a different look than the foods that were served on Monday. It might become a casserole, open-faced sandwich...

    Wednesday - Stir-fry (a low-meat meal)

    I often use veggies chopped on Monday or Tuesday, while preparing those meals, for stir-fry. Almost any kind of meat can be used (raw or cooked). I make up large batches of beef or chicken that I season and pre-cook, and freeze them in user-friendly amounts. I also keep cooked rice in the freezer to use with stir-fry. I don't use frozen veggies, but that certainly would be a great time saver. Add some fresh veggies along with frozen.

    Thursday: International

    For the want of a better title, this means something Italian (usually includes pasta and pasta sauce) or Mexican (including taco shells, tortillas, and taco meat, etc...) I keep the taco meat/spaghetti sauce bases in my freezer in amounts appropriate for one or two portions. I freeze chili in single-servings to use as a topping for baked potatoes or the base for a taco salad (like they make at Wendy's). Just thaw, overnight, in the refrigerator.

    Friday - Vegetarian

    To save money, we eat meatless meals on Friday. This is a good time to use your favorite bean/legume, egg, and cheese dishes. If you don't have time for that big breakfast during the week everyone loves, you can make it for supper - pancakes/French toast/frittata....

    Saturday - Soup and/or Sandwich

    We're always busy on Saturday, so this is an easy meal to prepare whenever we find time to eat. I keep soup in single-serving amounts in the freezer, so they are easy to thaw and reheat. We make all kinds of sandwiches/wraps/panini and even include Casadillas in the mix on Saturday.

    Sunday - Homemade Pizza or Dinner Salads

    What a great way to clean out the refrigerator.... When it's too hot to make pizzas, we often make mini-pizzas on tortillas or English Muffin halves. When the weather is hot and the garden is in full swing, we also eat lots of dinner salads - another way to use up small portions of leftover meat, cooked beans, hard-cooked eggs, and all those veggies.

    Fresh fruit, or a fruit dish of some kind, is nearly always served for dessert.
    -------------------------------------------

    Another method I read in a book years ago...

    -Meat - Sunday and Wednesday
    -Casseroles/Leftovers - Monday and Thursday
    -Pasta - Tuesday
    -Fish, eggs, cheese - Friday
    -Soup/Sandwich - Saturday
    Last edited by Grainlady; 08-06-2009 at 12:54 PM.

  5. #5
    Registered User zakity's Avatar
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    I do the "look at what needs used up and what the calendar looks like" thing. I see what is in the pantry/freezer, what there is an abundance of, and what the schedule looks like for that week. I then plan out meals that will work for that week.

    I try to do a big meal early in the week to "feed" the other meals. Meat one night supplies meat for the casserole. Herbed parmesan sauce the next night supplies the "sauce" for the casserole. The third night, I boil up some noodles, mix in the sauce and the meat, spice it up a little, and dinner is served.

    Also, we work in leftover/smorgasboard/fend for yourself meals also. I have found that if I call "leftover night" something else (like "fend for yourself") that they are much more receptive to it. Actually, they think they are great.
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    Moderator monkeywrangler71's Avatar
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    I'm reworking my whole meal planning strategy today. Before I always did the 'what do I have/what's on sale' strategy, and only planned suppers. But the kids are eating way too much bread & pasta throughout the day, snacking too erratically and usually to tired to eat by supper (my husband gets home late, so suppertime here is bedtime most other places).

    So today I sat down to start a full meal plan, including lunches and snacks. Instead of starting with a list of what I have or what we like, I started with a stack of newspaper clippings and recipe books and made a big master list of meal and snack ideas. Then I got out the food guide and made a note of how many servings of each item are required. I've drawn out a grid with places to write in what is planned, and to check off what nutritional requirements are being met. I will lay it out on the computer later tonight so I have a template to use each week.

    So the plan is to sit down on Thursday evenings (flyer day) with my planning sheet and list of options. Keep a running grocery list of what is needed in my pantry, add any sale items I find in the flyer. Then start filling in meals with what is on hand/on sale, but keeping a careful eye on the nutritional needs, then add any missing ingredients to the shopping list.

    I'm also planning to have a lot of the snacks and meals (especially kids meals) prepared ahead on the weekend, so we can concentrate on schoolwork and other activities during the day.

  7. #7
    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    I start by looking at the online sale ads for our two big grocery chains. I make a list of items on sale (with size and price).

    Like everyone else said, I look at what is still in the fridge and needs to be used up , maybe half a head of broccoli, some cream, potatoes, whatever.

    I also have a garden so I have to keep in mind what will be ready in the coming week, and what I just picked that needs to be eaten, too.

    From there I make a list of meals for the following week. I write out each day of the week and place a vegetable next to it. I space things so that the salad gets eaten early in the week before it wilts, or last week's leftover veg gets used first before the new vegetables, and so we aren't eating the same thing 3 nights in a row.

    Then I add a protein. Asparagus is good with ham, so we'll have that Monday. Salad with ground beef that is on sale, we'll call that hamburgers and garden salad for Tuesday. And so on down the week.

    This last winter I made a long list of our favorite dinners. Chili with cornbread, short ribs and green rice, bbq pork sandwiches, etc. So when I am stuck for ideas I just glance over that and see what we haven't had in a while. I also ask DH what he is interested in having and try to incorporate one or two of his suggestions into the week.
    Use it up, Wear it out,
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  8. #8
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    I'm in the process of revamping my meal planning. Having a blended family makes it hard because everyone is always coming and going and sometimes I have no clue what's going on or how late dh will be stuck at work.

    One thing I am doing is going through cookbooks for insperation. We all know we can have a million cookbooks but maybe only use a few of the recipes. I took index cards and wrote the cookbook name and listed the recipe and page number. Each cookbook gets a different card. So instead of digging through them all, I just look at the index card and of course these are the recipes that I know my family likes.

    And like most I look to see what needs to be eating up first as well.

  9. #9
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    Here is a link that may be helpful. I found a lot of interesting things here....

    Iowa State University Extenesion

    http://www.extension.iastate.edu/foo...s/mealplanning

  10. #10
    Registered User imagine's Avatar
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    I plan much like the others looking at what is on hand, sales ads, and what needs to be used up. Also at the calendar.

    I post this on a write on wipe off board on the fridge. ( a laminated paper that I made - has the days of the week and a section for things we need at he store)

    We post this on the fridge for two main reasons: 1 so it can easily been seen and I can remember to thaw and prepare 2 so Hubby knows what items he needs to leave alone in the fridge when he is foraging for lunch.

  11. #11
    Moderator mauimagic's Avatar
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    Great ideas from so many different perspectives!! I always need to plan for lunches at least for me and sometimes for DH too.

    Because of high food prices, we really rely on sales about 90% of the time. I'm working on dehydrating veggies so I'll have more room in the freezer for protein.

    Not too much to add to the great advice. Reading all of this made me realize that I need to plan more too. Maalo!!
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