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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Whether it's to save money, eat healthier, expand your meal repertoire, or eliminate the dreaded, "What in the world are we going to eat tonight" conundrum, meal planning can help make your daily life easier.

What's on your menu this week?


Food Ingredient Natural foods Cuisine Whole food


Five Free Printable Meal Planners:

And an interesting story on how one person goes through the planning in their head: https://twinpickle.com/2016/11/30/meal-plan-mind-map/
 
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So this just happened. I was at a crafting group this morning with my good friend. We were talking about our old school days and taking home economics, etc. I mentioned my new air fryer and wanting to find recipes to use with it. They all looked at me like I had two heads. “What do you need a recipe for?” Turns out I’m in a room of women who not only don’t use recipes, but they also don’t menu plan. They just go through their cupboards and cook whatever they want. Throw it together and it comes out great.

Now I’m thinking they either a) have deep pockets to buy whatever they want and stockpile it, b) have a very limited recipe repertoire they’ve memorized, or c) spend a lot on groceries period. They swear it’s none of the above, and yet I know three of them at least are retired dual income people. Whereas Hubby and I have a lot less to work on.

One lady went so far as to tease me about my menu planning and inventorying! I pointed out the inventory was not a regular thing, and was done to keep my Hubby from buying unnecessary food. One lady said her Hubby used to work for a grocery store and always inventoried their food…which drove her crazy! I’m not sure, but I think I’m hanging out with the wrong crowd.

Regardless, I will continue to inventory my food every three months. And I will continue to use recipes as I see fit. They didn’t change my mind about anything, but they sure rattled me!
 

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Red - yes, sounds like you don't fit with that crowd. ;) Keep doing what you are doing. I don't know how people can just shop and cook whatever. I have to plan it out, see what I already have, see what I need to use up what I have. My ds' wife was that way. She just shopped. They are in no position to do that. But they ate out all the time, because they didn't have anything to cook because they didn't have all the ingredients. Because she didn't know how to meal plan and make a grocery list. Didn't want to listen to what I had to say, but She's doing better.

I know what you mean about recipes for the air fryer. Of course we can cook whatever, but how long? I need a recipe or chart or something to tell how long and what temperature. I remember a funeral dinner I was at and asked the ladies in the kitchen about the mashed potatoes. They were really good. They looked at me like I was stupid. Sorry.

I haven't meal planned for a while. I have plenty in the freezer and pantry, so if we feel like something, we can just make it. I've tried to meal plan and we end up wasting food. It's just the two of us and some days we aren't very hungry, some days we are busy and just eat something quick, or we don't feel well and make oatmeal.
 

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Red, there will always be critics, don't take it to heart. That's great that your friend can just look in the fridge and make whatever she wants, but if it doesn't work for you, then it's ok to do it differently. All my meats are frozen, so I have to know what dinner is early enough in the day to thaw it, and we all know how busy we get in the middle of the afternoon. I have to meal plan or we eat cereal for dinner.

A lot of times I don't think you need recipes either. I mean, to pan fry a pork chop or bake a piece of chicken you don't need a recipe. Add a potato and a salad and dinner is made.

3rd week of January:

-- HM pizza, caesar salad
-- Chinese take out
-- pork taco bowl, rice beans, avocado
-- chicken or fish, salad
-- kibbe, yellow rice, hummus, brussels sprouts
-- sloppy joe sandwiches, salad
-- l/o turkey, potatoes, veg
 

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I use recipes, but I use them more as guidelines. I mean my brain is like a sieve. I don’t retain information easily. At least not something that doesn’t need retainng. I mean, it’s written down somewhere, so why bother to retain it?!

I started menu planning when the kids were young and we were dealing with multiple food sensitivities. I planned meals that rotated proteins, grains, vegetables and fruits. I still do that today, though it’s not fixed in stone. And I don’t normally write a menu plan unless it’s a big involved dinner for guests (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter). But I still rotate foods.

Our palates bore easily. We do not eat just ten meals and rotate them. I often cook one meal for two suppers in a row, and then we won’t see that meal for a month or more. We like variety.

tonight - fish round 2
Sat. - vegetarian round 1
Sun. - vegetarian round 2
Monday - pork round 1
Tues. - pork round 2
Wed. - beef round 1
Thurs. - beef round 2
Fri. - chicken round 1
 

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RedSpruce I’ve found menu planning saves us a lot of money. Without it more often than not we wind up eating out because I don’t have all the ingredients or nothing is defrosted and so on. Like you I use recipes as a jumping off point. I add, subtract and substitute all the time.

For the air fryer recipes - check Pinterest as I’ve found a bunch there. I’ve also seen charts on there with recommended time and temperature for various items which is a help. I’ll see if I can find one.

Jettsmom I’d have asked about the potatoes too. There are a lot of different seasonings and such that people put in their potatoes that make them so different from standard mashed potatoes.
 

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@hikr00 , the saving money part is what led to the pantry inventory last week when Hubby wanted to go grocery shopping. I agree planning meals can save money. But I inevitably have something come up last minute that means I have to change the plan. So I decided I’d build up a cache of freezer meals for those times.

thanks for the referral to Pinterest. What I really need is a temperature and time chart for various foods.
 

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Yes Red Spruce that group wasn't for you. I think the inventory of the husband had bigger problems like getting nagged about stuff, wasted money. like dh and his plain tastes and stubborn. granted he is a lot better but... funny watching youtube videos on the tv and it is miriam maroyles dickensian christmas show.. making w someone mock turtle soup calf heads are used. She is Jewish. Went to high end store $1000 pound xmas crackers you can get if you want lol

I am inbetween .. I need to know because unless it is cookies or ice cream etc will get wasted if I don't deal with it. I always had food in the house when single and dh didn't. So have an idea of what to make but have lots of easy meals in the freezer. Do have an idea of about 10 or so meals I think of tacos, chicken strips/fries, pasta of some sort, frozen entrees, grilled sandwiches etc. Now I have teens still so if it was just dh and me..different recipes could get fancier because easy to do $$ for 2 then buying for 4. Family is still think about dinner at 5pm ..well too late for defrosting meats etc. But does depend because sometimes leftovers disappear fast and some don't like this weeks chili. I haven't been eating as much too.

Actually made dinner most of the week..
leftover chinese food
black bean chili - some given to friend and some into freezer
last night ds made sm cheese quesdillas
bought cold cuts nice ones so sandwiches too.
honestly can't remember what else lol

today made a meatloaf from pork beef mix I bought plus big pack of blk cherry jello nugget potatoes that are kinda green oh well and a salad. leftover for tomorrow or monday . early dinner as half of family is out at dinner time. maybe event w food trucks tomorrow for dinner.

ham in fridge to do something with too.
pasta of some sort
no real ideas at the moment.
 

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Well something did come up today. I’ve been busy writing blog posts and doing onion skin dyeing. I finally sat down at 4 PM to rest before embarking on supper.

Then my walking buddy texted, asking if I wanted to go walking in between the rain and freezing rain to come this evening. I said yes. I didn’t get a walk all yesterday because of the high winds and heavy rain. So I was relieved to get out.

Hubby asked about supper as soon as I hung up my coat when I got in the door. 😔. I told him to get the pea soup out of the freezer. I just don’t have the energy to cook right now!
 

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l do a mix of planning and spur of the moment meal preparation. Every night this week (except Saturday) I've pretty much followed the menu plan I put together at last weekend. There have been some adjustments because I decided at the last minute that I didn't want to put the effort into a particular dish. For example, I was planning on roasting a sweet potato to go with a broccoli rice casserole on Monday night. I decided it was too much work to peel, cut, and roast the sweet potatoes, so instead I served the casserole with a variety of raw veggies, crudites style. Then, on Tuesday night, I made sweet potato fries to go with hamburgers, displacing the frozen tater tots that had originally been on the menu. The tater tots are just fine staying in the freezer, and the sweet potato really did need to be used up.

Since I'm going to be out of town from noon on Monday until late on Wednesday, I have nothing planned or staged for those meals -- hubby will fend for himself while I'm gone.

This past week's suppers:
  • broccoli & rice casserole w/ chicken & cheese, roasted sweet potato, fresh raw veggies
  • hamburgers, tater tots, sweet potato fries
  • fried rice, stir-fried brussels sprouts
  • pork chops, zucchini, kale
  • homemade pizza
 

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Elsi123 my menu is flexible like yours. I write meals in on certain days but I don’t stick to the days. I decide as the week goes on what we will have that day and then I check it off the menu. By having the menu I know I’ve got the ingredients needed for those recipes and if there is something that needs defrosting etc.
 

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I ended up making spinach quiche with fresh spinach that needed to be used, a leftover half onion, some of those bacon bits (they were fine), flour, baking powder, eggs, powdered milk and jalapeño Monterey Jack cheese. It was delicious! Hubby and I agreed the leftovers (2 meals) needed to be frozen.

We have leftover mashed potatoes from last week that need cooking and eating in Shepherd’s Pie. So I pulled the hamburger out of the freezer for tomorrow night. I grabbed a jar of my hm tomato sauce from the basement pantry, and a bag of frozen mixed vegetables to transfer to the upstairs freezer. Tomorrow we will have a fine meal!
 
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