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Do you plan meals in advance?
Old 01-02-2014, 11:06 AM   #1
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Do you plan meals in advance?

DW and I have never really planned evening meals in advance... you know, a week out.. Taco Wednesday, etc... it's always been 'what sounds good tonight and do we have it?'. I think that we've made choosing what's for dinner into a exercise that's harder than it needs to be.. it's almost a struggle to come up with something that sounds good at the time and that is in stock and not too much of a effort to get done. Sometimes, one of us just relents and says 'whatever'... not much fun there.

I'm a planner by nature and I don't want to overplan menus, but is there some kind of compromise? Do you have a system at your house. How can I get DW to buy into some basic planning?
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Old 01-02-2014, 11:15 AM   #2
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Absolutely we plan a week ahead. If we don't, we often don't eat as healthy (or even end up with take-out) or eat much later in the evening than we'd like. A typical weekend for us is to plan a menu on Saturday morning, prepare a grocery list (this reduces the grocery bill too by the way, only buying what we need) and then do the shopping on Sunday morning before the store gets crazy.
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Old 01-02-2014, 11:28 AM   #3
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Planners and non-planners co-exist peacefully in a type of neutral zone where compromise doesn't exist, we all just put up with each other's errant ways.

How do you shop for food without doing some type of meal planning? If meals are prepped from scratch, just looking to avoid repeating the same food type on consecutive days forces some type of planning, and if proteins are bought and frozen, thawing has to start a day earlier.
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Old 01-02-2014, 11:34 AM   #4
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I'm not that organized. Today I need to do the first grocery shop since Christmas and I will stock up on fresh vegetables, milk, bread, etc, but not with a particular list of dishes in mind. At least once a week I make a dish that will have leftovers and will save me having to cook. I like to combine different ingredients and experiment, e.g making soup or an omelette with whatever is in the fridge. I have cut down on processed food quite a bit since ER. This evening's dinner will be a casserole from the freezer.

I think the weekly menu would be good economy for a busy family and it certainly supports better nutrition than last minute decisions based on convenience. There's a reason they used to call this Home Economics. Project management skills come in handy too.
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Old 01-02-2014, 11:35 AM   #5
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I do something like this:
Thirty Day Batch Cooking - Betty Crocker
And combine it with getting daily recipes in my email from sites like allrecipes.com, Taste of Home, Food network...

Most women seem to really like Pinterest as a meal planning tool - maybe your wife would as well?

This is a pretty good idea too: Say Mmm - Do more with recipes on Evernote

There's also quite a few smartphone apps available for meal planning and grocery shopping. You can sync and share your ideas or grocery lists that way I think?
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Old 01-02-2014, 11:45 AM   #6
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I have never been a meal planner, but becoming one is a goal of mine this year. I am tired of having to come up with answers to "what are we gonna have for dinner tonight" every single day. Plus I am attempting to cut our food bill almost in half this year, so planning ahead hopefully helps on that front too.
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Old 01-02-2014, 11:45 AM   #7
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Pretty much non-planner here. DW has always shopped the sales for groceries, so meals follow from that. Fortunate to have lots of big grocers in the area. I generally limit red meats to less than 1 serving/wk, so lots of fish & poultry.
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Do you plan meals in advance?
Old 01-02-2014, 11:47 AM   #8
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Do you plan meals in advance?

No, not really.

I eat lunch at restaurants.

For dinner I tend to just choose something from the freezer at the last minute, defrost it in the microwave, grill or stir-fry it, add some vegetables, and voilą! Dinner. During hurricane season, I don't have as much in the freezer so I just shop more often and do the same.
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:17 PM   #9
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I like to cook and I do some planning, but less planning than I used to. The reason is that for the past 25 years, I've lived in a house with a 90+ "walk score". I can easily walk to several supermarkets and specialty food stores. I also have a fairly large vegetable garden. So now, if I need an ingredient I just walk over to the store, and during the growing season, I just walk outside if I'm growing it.
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:35 PM   #10
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DH and I tend to have a quick discussion each week about possible meals the coming week... and I'll buy a few entree choices based on that discussion... But we don't plan *when* we're going to eat them - and don't pick out 7 different entree's. We make sure we have basics to make more (hamburger can become meatballs, burgers, go into lasagna, etc.)

So we semi-plan - but not in great detail... and not on a Monday=X, Tuesday=Y type of plan.
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:52 PM   #11
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Planning and cooking better, healthier and tasty meals has been one of the pleasures of retirement. My lower weight, slimmer waistline, better lipid profile and happy taste buds are some of the benefits. My meals have also impressed a very nice woman.
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:55 PM   #12
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Definitely plan. I shop weekly and buy whatever protein and vegetables are on sale. I always buy enough protein for 5 or 6 meals. I keep one meals worth for the current week and freeze the rest. I then put together the "weekly menu" and fill in the gaps in vegetables with a trip to the local farmers market and defrosting a previously frozen protein. My meals are pretty simple - sauteed or roasted protein, steamed veg with olive oil and garlic, and carb (usually peas, carrots, corn, rice, potato, or a bun). We pretty much stick to the menu although once in awhile we'll switch days. It keeps my food budget low and ensures that I don't toss food because of spoilage.
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Old 01-02-2014, 01:02 PM   #13
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What DH and i recently found works for us (because we were throwing out too many leftovers): We plan and shop for 2 meals at a time. We finish those and all leftovers before we plan and shop for 2 more meals. If we have leftover vegs and nothing else, we will supplement out of the freezer or pantry.

We have not been planning and shopping like this for very long, but it does seem to have solved the problem of so much wasted food. Before, when we would plan and shop for several days' worth, we would find all sorts of stuff in the back of the fridge...dishes we didn't even remember. That's not a good feeling.
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Old 01-02-2014, 01:14 PM   #14
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I only plan 1-2 meals at a time - grocery store is only 1 mile away so it's really easy to pop over there for what I need.

We are trying to eat almost all fresh food so I don't really like freezing stuff plus our plans change frequently.

Definitely not the ideal cost saving plan but the DW is still working FT so things change regularly. I definitely like to try lots of new recipes too so we don't eat the same thing too often.
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Old 01-02-2014, 01:21 PM   #15
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I was going to answer "Yes" until I read some of the replies. I guess I don't plan in advance. I am one person, still w*rking, and I stop by the grocery store about 3 times a week...maybe twice after w*rk on my way home and once again on the week-end. I decide when I am there what I will be eating for the next couple of days (in my mind, this qualifies as "planning"). There is not a lot in the freezer of my fridge other some bags of frozen veg, frozen yogurt, fish, one or two Lean Cuisines.

I keep canned tuna, sardines, nuts, cereal, a couple of cans of soup in the pantry. I live five minutes from 3 large grocery chains, a specialty Italian food store and numerous pharmacies that also sell food so precious little chance I will starve to death. I eat lunch out at restaurants about 3 times a week during the w*rk week.
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Old 01-02-2014, 01:23 PM   #16
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We I plan a week at a time. I grocery shop on Tuesdays normally (only because that's when our local farmers market is in season), so some planning is necessary but it's very easy. I have all my (current) favorite recipes (about 20-30) in a notebook, I just flip through and write down what I'll need for the week, then look in our cupboards/fridge to see what we already have and cross those ingredients off, and add any "staples" that are missing (oils, spices, eggs, dairy, onions, garlic, canned goods, etc.). I usually ask DW at the beginning of the week if there's anything specific she has a taste for.

I usually make 4-10 portions of whatever I cook, so we have leftovers from the freezer more than half the time.

We eat breakfast and dinner at home Mon-Fri, and go out for dinner (occasionally breakfast/brunch) Sat & Sun 95% of the time. Lunches are often frozen Kashi, Lean Cuisine, Amy's, Evol with fruit and/or veggies.

When we were both working we improvised most nights. We definitely spent more, wasted more food, and ate less healthy then vs now. But we all have our own priorities, ce la vie...

Sorry if TMI
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Old 01-02-2014, 01:24 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JacqJolie View Post
I do something like this:
Thirty Day Batch Cooking - Betty Crocker
And combine it with getting daily recipes in my email from sites like allrecipes.com, Taste of Home, Food network...
That Betty Crocker menu list is very heavily meat based, isn't it?
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Old 01-02-2014, 02:38 PM   #18
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A main staple for me is once a week or so I make a big salad and put that in a giant Tupperware bowl. Most meals revolve around that, usually with a half or third of a grilled chicken breast cut up and thrown in and shredded cheddar cheese. Once in a while I'll put in some sliced pepperoni. For some reason I seem to have developed a bad reaction to fish so I don't eat that anymore.

DW eats more packaged Weight Watchers meals than I'd like, but given the travails she's had dealing with her father, and recently his passing, I don't get on her case about it. She's had enough stress the past few years without me adding to it.
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Old 01-02-2014, 02:44 PM   #19
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Not really. DW usually has a loose meal plan in her head for dinners only but we improvise a lot as well.

We usually keep 2-3 "bag" meals in the freezer if we are too rushed to prepare a dinner. They are cheap, quick and reasonably nutritious.
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Old 01-02-2014, 03:36 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tailgate View Post
it's almost a struggle to come up with something that sounds good at the time
A strategy that has helped us is to have a list posted on the side of the refrigerator which has twenty or thirty of the meals we like best.

There is usually something on the list that ends up sounding good (and for which we have the ingredients).

Kindest regards.
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