Meal Planning

Meal Planning

“Meal planning” is quite the buzzword these days.  It seems to me like everywhere I turn there’s a blog or a magazine promoting the optimal way to plan out your meals for the week or month, and grocery shop according to a prescribed list that promises to provide enough food for your scheduled meals and no extra.  I’m sure for some people, meal planning helps them stick to a limited budget and makes life easier for a busy family.  I, admittedly, have been staunchly in the opposite camp in which I’d rather spend a little extra time each day figuring out what to eat when I get hungry, instead of turning planning that out into a chore once a week that I’ll inevitably grow to hate.  However, last week I decided to flip my conceptions on their head and plan my meals.

My plan:

  • Not eat out for any of the meals I’ve agreed to plan.  In my mind, the ultimate part of meal planning is cooking, so that’s what I aim to do.
  • Decide over the weekend what to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Thursday, and breakfast & lunch on Friday (I’ll eat out for dinner on Friday, as a treat, if I make it through).
  • Purchase as few ingredients as possible during the week, as this seems like a perfect opportunity to eat through my freezer– I have a lot in there and I’d like to clean it out.
  • Not eat the same exact meal more than once- or at the very least, not on consecutive days.

It turns out that I had a meeting on Thursday evening that provides food, so I didn’t have to make myself dinner that night either; leaving 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 3 dinners that I had to plan.

Results:

  • Considering that I wrote my meal plan on Sunday and couldn’t find it on Monday morning, I did an admittedly terrible job following the plan I made!
  • I did still do my best to prepare every meal from food I had at home.
  • On Thursday, I had to deal with a rent payment fiasco, it was Rosh Hahanah, and I was running back and forth between campus and synagogue all day, so I didn’t leave myself any time to prepare myself lunch.  Instead I bought lunch in the hospital cafeteria for ~$5.

Conclusion:

I’m no good at planning my meals, because I’m hungry for different things each day and I don’t know over the weekend what I will want to eat each day of the week.  But if I have it in my head that I’m not going to buy food out for a week, I can be creative and think up meals to prepare based on ingredients already in my kitchen (this is actually the second time recently that I have tried this, and both times, it’s been a success).  In the future, though, I should plan weeks like this mid-month instead of as a reaction to being low on money towards the end of the month.

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2 thoughts on “Meal Planning

  1. I LOVE planning out my dinners. I’ve gotten in so deep that I print up a calendar each month with each block filled in. I’ve found that if you know what you’ll be eating in advance, you come to crave it when it comes up on the menu. Plus, it helps me expand my kitchen repertoire by letting me plan in new recipes.
    If you get a minute, go through and catalog everything you have in your freezer. Put the list up on your fridge and cross out things as you take them out and eat them. Having it in your face keeps you from buying what you already have as well as reminding you what you can eat without spending any extra money!

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  2. Aliyah, I was the same way for a long time. Still forget the shopping list at home. Husband is writing a program that’s purely centered around the user planning meals. Can’t wait for to to go live in the next couple of weeks. List and plan will be on my phone. Almost impossible to forget, tear up, or for the young child to eat.

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