Do you do weekly meal plans? If so, mind sharing your process? Keith and I are going to start meal planning as it will help us organize our food money more efficiently but also eliminate the hours long process of “What’s for dinner?” that drives us INSANE. Also, what is typically on your weekly/bi-weekly grocery list? Do you have a semi-frequent rotation of specific meals? I would appreciate any advice, links to helpful websites, etc!

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posted on November 22nd 2009 at 8:44AM CST

Check out this MetaFilter thread for some ideas, and links to other sites: http://ask.metafilter.com/136852/Menu-planning-and-grocery-shopping#1956088

posted on November 22nd 2009 at 2:09PM CST

The rotation of meals depends on season. For instance during the summer I make lots more cold salads (pasta, potato, etc.), sandwiches, grilled foods, etc. In winter I make a lot more soups, casseroles, hot pasta dishes, etc.

Usually I start the meal planning on a Sunday for the week ahead. I write it out on a dry eraser board so that everyone knows what’s for dinner that night. Then I make my shopping list on my phone. I usually do it according to aisle. Like baking, produce, etc. So this way here I don’t walk all around the market looking for this and then back to the other side for that. It’s easier and less time consuming that way.

I also try to stick to a budget and try really hard not to get what’s not on the list. I like to stick to the list. Doing so usually means I don’t go over the budget.
.-= {Lisa Marie´s shared blog entry… St. Louis} =-.

posted on November 22nd 2009 at 3:13PM CST

I do make weekly meal plans, and I have a process, although I’m not sure how helpful it will be to anyone else… Saturday is the big shopping day, so I sit down with my recipe binder on Friday night and start combing through it. (My binder is full of printouts I’ve culled over the years from friends and from various newsletters and websites.) Most of my ingredients get purchased Saturday at the WalMart SuperCenter. I also go to the grocery once during the week to pick up items that might go bad if purchased too far ahead, like veggies or deli cold cuts, and specialty ingredients that aren’t available at Wal-Mart.

I try to achieve my variety in form, so I usually end up with a salad night, a wrap or quesadilla night, a pizza, a pasta dish (which gets eaten 2 nights), and a meat-centered meal (which also gets eaten 2 nights). Note that the 2 night meals don’t get served 2 nights in a row — I put a 1 night meal like salad or pizza in between.

I have my recipe binder organized so that meat recipes are together, vegetarian recipes are together, and so on, which speeds up the process a bit. I tend to pick the meat meal first and then see if it needs ingredients (like a particular cheese or veg) that might not get fully used in that recipe, and then I keep those items in mind when I’m picking the other recipes for the week.

When I’m doing the process, I also pull potential recipes for the following week, although I don’t always use them right away.

It’s not a perfect system, since there’s a lot of flipping through the binder and scanning recipes, but I haven’t come up with a better system yet. :-)

posted on November 22nd 2009 at 4:40PM CST

I use Palm desktop software to plan my meals. I write up a main course and a veggie side for dinner and repeat it every other week or so. I do a breakfast at 7am, lunch at 12 and dinner at 6pm. The reason I use the Palm software is because it allows me to move the entries around, switch up lunch for dinner or whatever. I go with chicken dishes, tofu dishes, steak dishes, etc, and just pair it with any type of veggie that my boys will eat. I often make eggs for dinner.

I then figure out exactly how much they eat, for one meal and buy accordingly. Take a bell pepper. I’ll buy the tri colored ones and use them twice during the week, once sliced and sauteed for dinner with quesadillas, and then the next day or day after sauteed for breakfast burritos.

I’ll also make a big batch of baked brown rice and measure out 1/4 of a cup with each meal. The baked brown rice can last up to a week.

posted on November 22nd 2009 at 8:23PM CST

@Tasha, thank you for the link!

@Lisa Marie, how do you figure out WHAT to make during the week?

@Cheryl, Keith has been doing a lot more of our food shopping at the WalMart SuperCenter too, he says the prices are really good, we also do some shopping at Aldi. What drives me crazy with WalMart is they don’t have a food sales flyer (that I’m aware of).

@Noelove, our biggest issue is what to make, sometimes we have the groceries for one or two different meals but they don’t sound appealing at all for any of us so we end up getting take-out. How do you make baked brown rice?

Also as a general question, do any of you have a favorite meal you use your slow cooker for?

posted on November 22nd 2009 at 9:31PM CST

Sorry, I don’t have a slow cooker — I’ve heard how convenient they are and I know I ought to get one, but it just hasn’t been a priority. :-} I bet you could make an excellent Irish stew in one, though: it’s just roast cooked with carrots and potatoes.

Damita
posted on November 23rd 2009 at 7:27AM CST

I tried to do week planning for food but it never stick and I would get lazy and didn’t make it! I always make pack lunches so I have to make sure I have those bits and pieces in, I always need cat food and cat related items, household things, evening meals have been rubbish lately as we ran out of our food money two weeks before we get anymore and have ended up leaving on things out of the freezer not very good…
.-= {Damita´s shared blog entry… Weekend} =-.

Carrie
posted on November 23rd 2009 at 4:18PM CST

my process is a bit long so I wrote up a whole post just to answer your question http://www.itsfrugalbeinggreen.com/2009/11/meal-plan.html
.-= {Carrie´s shared blog entry… Meal Plan 11/22/09: Thanksgiving Week} =-.

posted on November 24th 2009 at 4:08AM CST

@Cheryl, we are planning on making in the slow-cooker, beef stew thanks to your Irish Stew suggestion!

@Damita, I think it’s a matter of MAKING it work. No slacking. Just grocery shopping along seems to have been a bit cheaper by sticking to a plan.

@Carrie, thank you for your article! It really helped us in creating a meal plan and we even purchased a few dessert and breakfast items as well to round things out.

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