I’ve found that if I try to meal plan and shop for two weeks, I end up buying a whole bunch of stuff I don’t need and don’t stick to the plan – however, if I meal plan and shop for one week, I can stick to the plan, and use up whatever I bought. I don’t even meal plan for the whole week either, just Monday through Friday. On Saturdays we tend to go out for some cheap dinner somewhere, and Sunday I end up throwing together whatever we have left over.
The skill of meal planning, shopping, and preparing dinners is not taught too much anymore, but it is so vital to the life of a family and a home. When there’s chaos around dinner time, trying to throw something together without having planned meals or shopped for them, it’s always easier to go grab dinner out. Eating out is fine in moderation, but not when it’s fast food several times a week.
Meal planning involves searching through your fridge and cupboards, choosing recipes based around what you have, and shopping for any other items needed to make the recipes. This is my Monday routine!
When I search through my cupboards and fridge I look for specific things:
- What grains/legumes do I have?
- What produce do I have that needs to be eaten before it goes bad?
- Do I have eggs, milk (and alternatives), cheese, and fish?
- What fruit can I use for snacks?
Once I go through all these questions I have a rough idea of what I have to work with
In order to pick the recipes, I peruse sites like Sorted Food, Vegweb, and AllRecipes (using my Recipe Box App, and Evernote Food, then I Google other ideas that sound good and come across random sites with delicious recipes. If I’m not planning on trying a bunch of new recipes, I’ll look through my repertoire and pick recipes from there, or from my cookbooks. I try to see where I could use a lot of what I already have. It’s easy to make substitutions in order to use what you already have as well, for example, if a recipe calls for baby spinach, and I have a bunch of baby kale, I’ll use that instead.
Then I head to the shops! I live quite close to the “downtown” area of my small town (about 2 blocks away) so I head out on foot (rain or shine) armed with 2 or 3 bags. I head to the bigger grocery stores first, to get them out of the way. I’ve found that Save-On Foods (in British Columbia) carries more “health-food” type stuff, than other big stores, and Safeway carries the least. So I head to Save-On and pick up the things that I know would be twice the price for the same brand at the smaller stores (ie. local honey, grains, flours, toiletries (I know not food, but I pick them up at the same time) and other things). Then I head to our little produce store and buy our produce for the week, as well as our local eggs, milk, and bacon (for Tal). Last but not least, I walk to the old downtown area and check out the old natural food store. The ladies there are super knowledgeable, and if I’m trying out a new grain, or food, they always seem to know what to do and what I should buy. They also sell sprouting equipment and other neato things. I don’t go there every week, but probably about twice a month.
Then I carry it all home, put it away, and stick to the plan for the rest of the week.
So here is my meal plan for this Monday-Friday (with links to where I found the recipes). I’ve only tried two of these recipes, and I love them! I’ve made the Vegan Zombie Pizza Rolls, more times than I can count, but they seemed like a good Friday night dinner and Dragon Bowl is a veggie classic.
I’m going to serve these in the pitas I used for a meal last week (they’ve been in the freezer) and with some sort of yogurt sauce. I’ll make a salad on the side.
I love sortedfood.com! I’m sure these will be delightful.
I had a sweet potato quesadilla at a South Western restaurant a couple weeks ago, and it was to die for, so we’ll see how this one goes.
I don’t really need a recipe for this one, but I will be posting AN AMAZING dragon bowl dressing recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks.
These are delicious, although I’ll probably doing regular cheese. I like it better than the vegan stuff… call me crazy, I just prefer it.
So that’s that. I love meal planning, almost as much as I love setting the budget up (I’m not being sarcastic! These are two of my favourite parts of the homemaking job)!
How do you plan out your meals?