Saturday, November 21, 2009

Meal planning

If I don't plan ahead, there is likely to be pizza on the table or a trip to Torrero's. I just am not one of those people who can walk in the kitchen and throw something together.

So I meal plan. Often for a month at a time. I didn't mean to do it that way, but I got this awesome book, a Busy Body Book, at Blogher in 2008, and it just lended itself to compulsive meal planning. I know I'm not using it how they had in mind, but because of how I'm using it, I'm inclined to say it's the best planner I've had (although I'm waiting to see what Molly comes up with next, you know, supporting local moms and all!).

Here is what a week looks like:

The columns on the right hand side, I use for 1)Meals 2)People eating them 3)Notes 4)Weekly appointments 5)One-time appointments. The "people eating them" column may sound strange, but my stepdaughter is only here 50% of the time, and we like to have Papa eat with us whenever we can. Also, we meal share with a neighbor, so every other week, I make double and take part of it across the street, so I need to keep up with who I'm feeding nightly.

That's a terrible scan above, but the book is too big for my scanner. What you can't see on the far left is a lovely blank space where I put a list of what's in the freezer, Target lists, Trader Joes list, Costco list, or even copy down a new recipe I want to try. You can see the lines where I make my main grocery list.

About once every six weeks, I'll make a Costco run and buy meat. I'll divide it up into portions and freeze it, keeping a tally of what I've put on the menu plan. Other freezer basics are buttermilk biscuits, a frozen meal from Trader Joes for emergencies, a frozen pizza, a couple of casseroles, soup, stock, fat back for veggies (don't tell my Yankee husband about that though), twice baked potatoes that I make a couple dozen at a time, and summer vegetables put up for the winter. Basically.

That's it in a nutshell. If I follow the system, it works really well. I remember to take things out of the freezer in time for dinner, and I usually only have to go to Harris Teeter once a week. I feel better about how I'm running the household, the budget, and as a wife and mother.

And then there are weeks like this past one where I let it all slip through the cracks and barely made it to the store to get milk.

I like the organized weeks much better.