Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What's for Dinner?

Since working from home and being at home with Eli, I'm trying to do better at cooking dinner and making weekly meal plans.  This is something that I've always struggled with.  I mean, how am I supposed to know what I want to eat on Wednesday when it's only Saturday?
Before Eli, I did good to cook once a week.  We'd sometimes go a month without a home cooked meal, but now, family dinners are very important to me.  I want Eli to grow up with some home cooking and I want him to learn that you can eat healthy, yummy things.  

I always find myself scouring the internet for yummy new recipes and trying to find quick, easy, healthy, yummy meals for our family.  It's not always so easy.  

So, this week, I decided to make sure that I have chicken, pork, fish and ground beef on hand at all times.  That way, I can thaw out the meat for whatever meal I find and I won't be asking Fred to stop by the store on his way home.  

I may not be "meal planning" 100%, but I'm taking baby steps. 

Do you have any tips for meal planning? 


KRISTIN said...

I've found that having the ingredients for 4-5 different dinners works well. The you can make what you feel like but you're not running to the store every day. AND, if you feel like going out to eat or getting take out you'll still have everything for another day. I go to the store once a week and get just enough stuff for the week's breakfast, lunch, some snack stuff and then the 4-5 dinners. It's not a perfect system but it's helped me a lot without being bound to a strict meal plan.

Tamara @ Everything Happens said...

I try to carry over ingredients to at least two meals - like if I buy carrots, celery, onions... I'll try to make chicken pot pie one night then maybe chicken noodle soup the next. I'm all about using what you have! There is nothing I hate worse than running to the grocery store for only a few things!

My Life as A Plate said...

I have been trying to be better at this too! It is the worst when you get home and are hungry with an empty fridge. I agree I think as long as you have a variety of meat and veggies in the house, you can decide what you are in the mood for that day, without having to decide what you want a week ahead of time.

Sunkissed and Southern said...

I like to have at least 3 tentative meals. That way I can switch them up on days that Im in the mood for that cuisine!

Carolyn R said...

This seems like a great idea! I am always trying to meal plan better... but I definitely go through phases!

Carol {Everyday Delights} said...

This was one of my goals for 2013 - to meal plan better! (And I'm working from home now too!) With my new schedule I started putting my workouts on my calendar, and at the top of the day I plan out my meals on Sunday for the week. I think we've discussed this before, but its so hard to think about what you are in the mood for a week ahead of time!

JMc said...

If I'm planning for the week I plan 7 meals. Then I can make those 7 meals any day that week but I know I have at least enough ingredients for that. Then on Tuesday night I can decide to make a chicken dish on Wednesday and thaw meat. I don't have to totally plan that far ahead. Usually anything with fresh veggies gets prepared at the beginning of the week so nothing goes bad. Toward the end of the week we may have more canned or frozen veggies mixed into the meals. It takes time to really get a good rhythm.

Lindsey said...

CROCK POT!!! It is a life saver on the nights that are busy. I like to cook a whole chicken in the crock pot and then shred the meat and freeze it in different bags for different meals. It's cooked and ready to thaw when you need it. I meal plan but I make a list of 7 meals and we decide the night before (or sometimes that morning) what we want to eat. I can't commit to a designated meal each night a week ahead. We rarely eat out so meal planning is a HUGE help to me.

Allison Boutwell said...

Every Sunday I sit down and make a meal plan for the week. I scour pinterest and use recipes I already have and love. A lot of times I look for recipes that don't call for a lot of new ingredients as then I tend not to make them since I have to buy 100 spices, oils, etc. The easier the better and with a baby let me tell you that is what I like. We also do a lot of crockpot meals because the days I work from home I don't care to go to work, come home, make dinner and then clean up. With the crockpot we put everything in, come home, dinners ready and cleanup is minimal since we use the crockpot bags (which I highly recommend). We live SO far from town that it's not convenient for us to eat out so we've improvised. :)

Kendall Jones said...

It took me a little while to get into a groove, and I tried several approaches but finally landed on a system that works for me. I posted about grocery shopping once and it touches on how I plan my week:

But, mostly it's taking the time once a week to plan it out. I've also identified a few meals that I can make easily as long as I have a few basic staples on hand (so I make sure I've always got them for when I'm in a pinch and haven't made any menu plans)! After 4 years of planning menus, I'm just now to the point where I can look at my ingredients on hand and make things up, but I still love have a recipe as a guide! I'm looking forward to seeing what all you try!

Laura J said...

I think it often depends on how accessible the grocery store is (or how many trips you are comfortable making). My grocery store is literally around the corner, so I usually have various proteins in the freezer, but make a trip for veggies and other little things every 2 days. That way, I don't buy 2 tons of veggies on a Sunday only to have them all spoil by the time Saturday rolls around. I agree that meal planning days in advance is hard when you don't know what you'll be in the mood for, but I usually have a general idea of the meals for the week and just decide that morning which of them to cook for that evening. You aren't bound to do steak on Monday if you really want chicken. Just have the steak tomorrow! I also roast a ton of vegetables to have throughout the week to save time- they go with everything :)

Party of Five said...

You will get it.. I make it my mission to cook Monday-Thurday and that's it. If I do more, great, if not, I've met my goal for the week.

Melissa Jo said...

I always try to keep some different proteins in the house, most of the time I repackage them into '1 meal' portions in freezer bags, label them and freeze until needed. I also stock up on the bags of frozen veggie medlies. Bird's eye normally is the best quality. Keeping pantry staples around works for quick throwing something together like a bag of stuffing cubes, "cream of" soups, different seasoning packets, sauces and chicken broth. Most of my dinners are thrown together last minute. Last night used sliced up pork chops and a stir fry veggie mix and just added some salt/pepper and a few tablespoons of a peanut/satay sauce served over some rice noodles. SO delish.

Emily said...

One thing we like to do before we grocery shop is try to make a plan for the entire week - and we shop to that plan. It helps us stick to what we've planned and that way we aren't spending $ on things that don't go with our plan. It has really helped me, hope it helps you too!

P!nky said...

I'm really bad at this too, my bf actually gave this item as a new years resolution to me, haha.

I think you just have to figure out an idea on sunday and that way you know whatyou can and can't do.

good luck!

Kelsey said...

Wow....lots of great ideas! I usually pick out about 5-8 meals we really like and buy the stuff to make each meal 1-3 times that month. Any time that month that something sounds good I will have the items on hand. We eat a lot of chicken and salmon so those are always in the freezer. I only buy fresh produce weekly! I usually have meals as follows weekly.......1 Mexican dish, 2 pasta dish, 3 soup (now that it is colder), 4 chicken with side like salad and carb, 5 Fish with sides. On the weekend anything is fair game! We are really flexible as well! Meaning if we want to eat out during the week, we just eat at home one day over the weekend!

Melissa said...

I wish I had some tips! I am terrible at meal planning and I can tell I've gained some weight because of it! Keep us posted on how it all goes. I'll be looking for tips from you! =)

Leah said...

I love the May Book menu planner. They have a menu on one side and grocery list on the other. I plan my meals on Saturday or Sunday. I try to make 2 new meals a week and the rest that are tried and true from Simply Made with Love. I always do at least 2 crockpot meals. I try to reuse ingredients for multiple meals. If I don't do this, food always goes bad. One of my goals this year is posting my menu's on Sunday. Doing that helps me plan them on time and makes it easy to pull up each day. xo

Mateya said...

Wish I had some advice, I need to get better about this. Robbie has been the one cooking lately!

Meghan said...

Menu planning took me some time to get into, and now we have a system that works for us. On the weekend, I plan out our meals for the week, which is usually 3-4 meals that make a lot of leftovers. Then I make a list and we shop once a week. Once in a while, one of us has to go to the store for something, but that's pretty rare. If I know I have a busy week, I'll make a big batch of soup or pasta that we can have for a few days and then supplement it with fresh veggies. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions!

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