Yesterday I was excited to see this comment from Amanda as I am sure many people feel the same way:
“I am way too fickle to ever be as good at planning as you are! I sometimes think “oh I definitely want tacos etc this week” but then when the time comes I am never in the mood for said food! How do you combat that? x”
I have been meal planning fairly consistently since August of 2010 and have found that keeping these things in mind helps:
1. Consistency – In the beginning I would plan meals and at least 2 of the nights we would order out, but as time went on eating what was planned became habit and now we plan in the nights out rather than skip already planned meals.
2. Plan things you want to eat – This might seem obvious but sometimes I get some wacky idea like lentil soup which sounds good and healthy and then I remember how much I dislike lentils and am grumpy and just want pizza. However if I plan meals that I know I and Mr. H like such as Minestrone soup instead which is still healthy and fulfills the soup urge I had then I will be excited to cook and eat it.
3. Be flexible – I know this seems to go against planning but you do not necessarily have to plan a specific meal for each day but can plan say 5 meals and then cook them when you want them. For a bit Mr. H was having trouble seeing the meals written out like in the picture below so I would just write a list of meals for the week on the fridge and then cook them in the order I wanted.
4. Be Creative – So say you were really in the mood for tacos like Amanda said above so you plan and shop for them and then the day comes and you are like ugh tacos no way, well then you get creative and think what else can I do with these ingredients that sounds good. Doing that I have come up with some recipes like the one that I posted yesterday which are great and I end up making again. So with taco stuff you might feel stuck in Mexican but instead of the tortilla you can put all on rice for a twist or or make a salad etc, etc.
5. Be organized – I not only write the meals of the week on a magnetized fridge pad but also in my daily planner, doing that means when I am feeling out of ideas I can look back at past weeks and go “o yeah we loved having pasta salad when it was warm”. It also helps to spread out meals as I would eat chili all the time but I always check to see when we last had it and so it is spaced out more than once a week. One other thing about doing it in my planner is that I have Mr. H’s schedule written there too so I can see when he needs leftovers or lunch at home before work and can plan accordingly.
The last note is that it will save you money. When I told Mr. H I was writing this post and if he had any insight saving money was the first thing he mentioned, with the level of meal planning we are at we never throw out food because it has gone bad and very rarely go to the store more than once a week. Since we do a once weekly shop we can also budget for the month and surprisingly with all different meals planned and changes of food price due to the seasons we always are within a few kroners of each other each month.
What tips do you have for those starting out on the meal planning way of life?
Also if you have other questions or specific recipe interest let me know I love talking about food!