Daily Archives: 03.22.2011

On Meal Planning

I know that I promised y’all this post like, a month or so ago.  But then life happened, and I was all Confessing…and stuff.

So, anyway, it’s finally time to address any and all of the mysteries surrounding how Marcus and I do our in-home eating on a budget.  Yay, two-part series!  Today, we’ll look at meal planning and then on Thursday, I’ll discuss how we shop.

If you’ve been with the group since January, then you know that until 2011, we didn’t embrace any real form of meal planning.  But quite honestly, more than anything else, I got tired of making/eating the same thing every week.

And, now that all of this wedding-related stuff has kicked into high-gear, besides the fact that we would be eating the same thing day-in and day-out, we’re increasingly out-of-time.

I thought I would hate it.  Because I’m very much someone who cooks what I crave.  But after the first two weeks, things got really easy, really fast.

When I do our meal planning for the next week on Friday/Saturday (we go to the store on Sundays), I ask the following questions:

  1. What days do we have enough time to eat a meal at home?
  2. How much time do we have to cook?
  3. Can I find the time to cook a meal in-advance on a night that Marcus has class?
  4. What are we going to cook?
  5. Will it involve meat?
  6. Where do the vegetables fit in?
  7. How far can we stretch the leftovers?

In my world, the first three questions are the most important and the last three questions are more detail-oriented than anything else.  Knowing how many times you can actually cook dinner in a given week is pretty key. You know?

#4 is a big one.  If it’s been an especially fascinating week on the internets, then I usually print off a stack of recipes on Friday that I want to try.  Otherwise, I try to mix dishes we’ve cooked before with recipes from cookbooks that I’ve barely cracked open.  I have two shelves of them, for crying out loud!

Insofar as leftovers are concerned, I’ve never cooked with the intention of freezing a batch.   Our freezer isn’t that spacious.  Plus, freezing a meal with the intention of eating it in the distant future just seems so…permanent.

If I’m faced with a recipe that seems to be lacking in the vegetable department, we either steam/roast broccoli (depending on the dish) or turn to frozen vegetables.  They’re an absolute lifesaver.  You just chuck in a couple of handfuls and boom!  Done.

Do you meal plan?  What’s the method behind your madness?