Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Meal planning

As part of trying to eat healthier and stay within our budget, I'm thinking about doing more meal-planning, meaning, that I'll be thoughtful of our family meals each week by planning them out ahead of time and shopping accordingly.

Benefits:  Having a stocked pantry/fridge/freezer ahead of time with all of the ingredients that I need, avoiding the 4 pm thought of "What are we going to eat for dinner tonight?" followed by a mad dash to the grocery store on the way home, healthy meals all planned out.

Cons:  There aren't any cons really, other than taking up some time to actually do the meal planning.

I have friends who do this religiously.  I like being organized, so doesn't this make sense?

I've tried to do something like this in the past, and actually I tried to have regular theme nights so that I can focus my meal planning on a specific theme rather than come up with a menu from the giant universe of food.  In fact, using theme nights is an idea shared by The Food Nanny.  And guess what?  The Food Nanny has free templates to use for food planning!  I can use those!

I think the key here is discipline.  I already do have a well-stocked pantry, so I know I have the basics.  All I need is the discipline to actually sit down and think about what my family should eat this week.  Suggested theme nights are Asian/Indian, Mexican/Latin, slow-cooker, fish, pasta/Italian, grill night, soup/sandwich night, dairy night (think quiches and frittatas), and more.

So many bloggers are documenting their real-live menus, so there is a lot of material out there for inspiration, like here and here and here.  Will you join me as I try to menu-plan?

Do you plan out your menus?  Do you have suggested dinner ideas?  Leave a comment with your suggestions!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this info! I love your theme night idea and will definitely have to add that to our meal planning. I have been meal planning for a few months now, and it has made a big difference in our grocery budget and has also helped us eat more balanced meals. I feel more organized and no longer have to think of a dinner plan at 5 pm when the kids are starving and running around the house! We usually have 1-2 meals that are standard such as a stir-fry night once a week using up all the left over veggies or a soup night. Then, I only have to come up with 5 meals a week instead of 7...It also helps to freeze leftovers and incorporate them into the following week's menu.

    Thanks again for your ideas! Keep writing as we love your blog!!!