It is sooo hard..
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  1. #1
    Registered User Jayne's Avatar
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    Default It is sooo hard..

    ..for me to stick to my meal plan and eat at home...I made out a two week plan, posted it on my fridge, and dh and I made it one whole week...But this Monday and Tuesday we blew it..Went to a resturant Monday and bought deli stuff yesterday....We spent about 65 dollars that we didn't have to spend
    Any suggestions on keeping the menu interesting, geared to two people, and cheap? TIA

  2. #2
    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    What prompted you to want to eat out and to go buy deli food?

    If you did not want to cook, maybe you should find some simpler "throw together" or "just heat up" type meals. Do some once-a-month cooking and put some chili or casseroles into the freezer for these times.

    If you found the week 2 menu unappealing by the time you got to it, maybe you should do meal planning 1 week at a time, or allow yourself some flexibility in the plan.

    If I get to a night where I don't want to cook what is planned I allow myself to make something else as long as I am only using what is in the house.

    Last night was supposed to be tuna sandwiches and tomato soup. Well, we had lots of fried chicken left from last week, and I had a big bowl of lettuce from the garden I forgot to plan for. So I changed the plan to fried chicken and salad. I put the leftover vegetables from the pizza Sunday into the salad.

    Tonight I left open, no plan, just something involving chicken. So I'm going to take the frozen tomatoes I had for the soup yesterday and get some chicken out, and use more of the leftover pizza vegetables (onion, mushroom, pepper, zucchini) and make tortilla soup.

    As for keeping it interesting, I made a list of meals we liked and posted it on the fridge. It is about a month worth of our favorite meals. It includes restaurant knockoffs, like our favorite BBQ and some simple ethnic foods I've learned to make. For me the point of cooking at home is to enjoy those great flavors without having to pay through the nose, so I plan for some special or exotic meals once in a while. We don't just have beans and rice, then rice and beans, and beans and rice at home.

    If you are not cooking because your repertoire is limited, it is time to get out there and learn some exciting new recipes. Think about what you like to eat, and find out how to recreate those flavors at home. Some recipes may require you to invest in new ingredients, but you should be able to find some that are not too expensive to try. And, if you want to learn to cook asian foods, a lot of ingredients (like soy sauce and sesame oil) will be used in many recipes which makes them economical in the long run.

    Finally, it's ok to allow yourself a night out once in a while. Find a limit, once a week or once a month, or per paycheck, or something you feel is reasonable for your goals. It doesn't have to be an expensive meal. Let the dinner out be something special and enjoyable, not "I'm too tired to cook and I feel guilty for blowing the budget".
    Stop trying to organize all of your family’s crap. If organization worked for you, you’d have rocked it by now. It’s time to ditch stuff and de-crapify your world.

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  3. #3
    Registered User mommy4ever's Avatar
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    It's hard to do. Many professional meal planners only plan 5 days at a time,the other 2 are leftovers and either eat out, or make something that satisfies the urge.

    I plan, but stray quite often. If burgers don;t appeal, meatloaf or tacos or a cheese burger pizza might. If I don't want something that is planned, then I convert to something else. I don't dictate. I do allow for us to order in or go out about 2 times a month. Sometimes we go, sometimes we don't go at all. But the option is budgetted for so there's no deprivation.

    I'm currently working a new menu plan... on that will allow me to LOSE WEIGHT..loll. Now that is a challenge..lol. I love lots of rich foods, so I'm learning..

    Sit down with your SO and see what you both enjoy eating. See how to incorporate the different flavors you enjoy into the menu. Making chinese at home is cheap and easy. Same with italian or mexican or thai. Anything can be done, just need to take a little time to find simple everyday ingredient recipes. Sandi Richard has some great recipes that she uses helpers to create great flavors. Check out her site foodtv.ca/fixingdinner for some recipes to explore. I use her cookbooks and recipes all the time.

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  5. #4
    Registered User tervsforme's Avatar
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    Countrary Housewife has some great suggestions. I have this issue as well, sometimes I just don't feel like cooking. But if I can just heat up something homemade from the freezer in the oven or microwave, then I'm ok with it. Try to be flexible with what to make, for example have two different meats thawed, one for tonight and one for tomorrow. That way if you don't feel like what's on the menu tonight, have what was on the menu for tomorrow. It takes a few weeks to get into the groove, but you can do it!

    I allow myself to eat out twice a month of payday weekends. I usually just order a pizza or chinese, but at least it's something different and then I have leftovers for a few days.

  6. #5
    Registered User MomToTwoBoys's Avatar
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    When I find myself planning a menu plan, then not wanting to cook, I look for something simpler around the house that takes not a whole lot of time to get ready. For instance, I don't feel like making a roast today so I'm making hot beef and pasta over Caesar salad.

    We had problems with our meal plan to where I just up and said, "I don't feel like cooking." I'd end up spending $50 on one meal because I just didn't want to cook anything and everything that I had would have taken me way too long to do. My suggestion? Go for something that you can just throw into the crockpot the night before, put it out in the morning and let it cook all day long. Put a couple chicken breasts in the crockpot, a can of creme of mushroom soup, some salsa and let it cook on low all day. Take 5 minutes to make the rice and then bam! Mexican-style crockpot chicken over rice for dinner and include some tortilla chips on the side (I just made that up, but dang does it sound good right now?).

    I find that a weekly meal plan works. Trying to make a meal plan for more than a week at a time makes it really boring. What you can do is pick up cookbooks that have weekly meal plans included and just interchange the dishes. If you had Tortilla Soup one Tuesday night, then the next Tuesday you want something else, do that. Also, just because you have a meal plan doesn't mean those meals have to be on those nights. Pick a meal from the plan that you may be craving and make that, shift the meal originally planned for that night and just change them around.

    If all else fails, get a box of something that's already precooked like a lasanga or some cabbage rolls and heat it up. Make your own, freeze it and then have it later.

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    I like more flexibility than a strict list, which is why my method is more generic and I can easily change one day for another when "life happens". You can modify this type of schedule to work best for you.

    Monday: Big Meal
    This includes a large cut of meat and all the goodies that go with it. This large amount of meat then provides leftovers, meat for lunch sandwiches or dinner salads, sliced meat in the freezer to use later, soup....

    Tuesday: Leftovers from Monday
    Usually takes on a different "look" than what was served on Monday.

    Wednesday: Stir-fry

    Thursday: International (loosely speaking)
    Usually something with pasta or a tortilla/taco shell. I always keep spaghetti sauce in the freezer in user-friendly amounts. It only takes a few minutes to cook some pasta, heat the sauce, add a tossed salad or veggie tray, serve fresh fruit for dessert. I also keep "taco meat" and chili in serving sizes in the freezer. Add some shredded cheese and lettuce and any other toppings you like. Both taco meat and chili can become the base for a taco salad, or a topping on a baked potato, etc.

    Friday: Vegetarian
    This can include recipes that are based on eggs, cheese, grains, beans, even "breakfast" (time for French Toast or Pancakes that you don't have time to make for breakfast). I keep homemade bean "burgers" and homemade multi-grain burger buns in the freezer for a Q&E supper.

    Saturday: Soup and/or sandwich
    We're always busy on Saturday, so this is where freezer-foods come in handy. I make soup and freeze it in 1-cup single-serving amounts. When the soup is frozen, I pop it out of the plastic containers. Stack the cubes of soup and vacuum seal them in FoodSaver bags. Take out what I need, reseal the bags and stick back in the freezer. If I take them out in the morning and stick them in the refrigerator to thaw, it doesn't take very long to reheat.

    Sunday: Homemade pizza or dinner salad
    Both are a great way to use up leftovers.

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    if i know something good is in the crockpot, i hurry home.

    i keep tombstone frozen pizza for the nights i want pizza.

    i try not to let it go much past 4:00. i'm hypoglycemic, and if dinner is much past 4, on the way home from school, i will end up in a restaurant. i try to bring an extra half sandwich, but sometimes i forget to eat it or i don't want it, sick of it.

    i know the first week of school and final exams/graduation practice/graduation week it is impossible for me to cook on a regular schedule, so i am easy on myself on those weeks.

  9. #8
    Registered User Radish4ever's Avatar
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    When I am in the mood to cook, I COOK! Even if I have food already made for meals.... I make extra foods and then freeze or refrigerate for quick "go to" meals. This came in handy yesterday when I had a terrible craving for Chickfila...but in my freezer, I had some Panko Chicken Nuggets I had made a few days prior...so we ate those instead!

    I browse on Recipezaar all the time. I'll browse cookbooks or browse the forums looking for ideas.... or if something sounds really good, I'll look up some recipes and save a few that have ingredients I have or almost always have on hand. So far this has worked well for me this month! We used to eat out at least 1 time a day on average...

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    Registered User Momto2Boyz's Avatar
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    I was going to suggest the same a few said above. Don't plan for more than a week. What sounds good today, might not sounds good next week!

    It's hard to get out of the habit of eating out. But one thing you can do is try to make some of your favorite "restaurant" foods at home! It might be a little more expensive than buying hamburger helper (or whatever is cheap), but if it keeps you from going out, it's still saved you money!

  11. #10
    Registered User Radish4ever's Avatar
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    Sarah, that is SO RIGHT!
    Buying potatoes, corn on the cob, and good cut steaks at the store can be pricey....but NOTHING like buying it for $15+ a plate at a restaurant PER PERSON (plus having to get drinks, kid meals, and a tip!)

  12. #11
    Registered User Dancing Lotus's Avatar
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    I have a more flexible list.
    I only pick 5 meal plans.. and I don't pick a day for serving them.
    Two of the meals have to allow for us to eat them more then once. Like a lasagna or a large crock pot meal.

    I might make the lasagna on Monday when I have more time. We will eat it that night and the rest will get frozen. Later in the week when I have a night with less time to cook I will just heat up the lasagna. Or if I have a night that i just don't' want to cook. LOL

    I like to keep things like grits or hashbrowns on hand to make a "breakfast" supper on the the nights that I don't' want to or don't have much time to cook.

    I tried scheduling each meal for a specific day but something would always change my plans.

  13. #12
    Registered User Persimmon Lace's Avatar
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    I do meat base cooking and try to keep cooked chicken/hamburger/pork in the freezer. Then it's a simple matter of making whatever we want for dinner.

    In the summer months I make up pasta salad in the mornings and have fruit cut up to along with it.

    Quiche since we have tons of eggs right now.

    Tortilla soup with the cooked chicken or chili/cheese/chicken enchiladas.

    Try looking at what you have before a certain time everday and decide if you can make do with what you've got or make a store run.

    There are just 2 of us to cook for and I make a lot of 1 pot meals served with a salad or fruit. I also use paper plates to cut down on dishes. I figure it's cheaper that way than eating out. It's not the cooking I hate, it's the clean up!

  14. #13
    Registered User cheles2kids's Avatar
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    Also remember, you do not have to *cook* every night of the week.

    There's sandwiches, and leftovers.

    Also another quick 'meal' is to cut cheese, olives, pickles, fruit, crackers and some type of deli sandwich meat (or not) on a platter and serve it party style.
    This usually goes over really well with kids, as well.

    I know sometimes I get in the 'I don't wanna cook' mentality & having quick & easy items to just throw together on a platter makes a HUGE difference on those nights.

    I also wanted to mention, that you could also talk with your husband about this and suggest he cook 1 night a week.
    Just make sure that you have everything on hand that he needs to cook the meal so that he doesn't get too discouraged and decide that it's too much trouble to do again.

    If he works through the week, no biggie, let him choose a weekend day to cook.
    Last edited by cheles2kids; 06-09-2009 at 06:01 PM.
    Michelle in middle Tennessee!


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    Registered User shortstack's Avatar
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    I would suggest going on to allrecipes.com and browsing. There is an option on there where you can search for recipes that include ingredients you all ready have on hand. Each recipe also has comments at the bottom added by people who have cooked the dish. My husband and I refer to that site as (hope this doesn't offend anyone) food porn. When he comes home from work and I've cooked something different he asks me if I've been looking at food porn again

    Andrea

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    Registered User joyofsix's Avatar
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    I usually make a list of six meals but don't necessarily assign them a day. That lets me fix what sounds good. I also admit to serving box macaroni&cheese, Aldi frozen pizza, or sandwiches if cooking doesn't appeal. As others said, frozen pizza may be more expensive than homemade but it's a darn sight cheaper than delivery.

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