Saturday, August 1, 2009

"When We Fail to Plan, We Plan to Fail"

Menu II - Allposters

Do you remember that old saying? Well I think it still applies to many areas of life, but today I'd like to discuss meal planning. I sort of got out of the habit this summer and our grocery bills show it! So I'm back to planning our weekly meals!

Menu planning is simply planning out what you're going to eat for a given time period. Some people do one week, others 2 weeks, some a month and I'm sure there are some really organized people out there that do a 3 month plan! I do once a week.

Why is menu planning good? Why is it important to spend time doing this in the first place? Well it saves you money for one thing! If you know what you're going to eat the chances of you eating out or getting take-out are less and it also allows you to use up what you have. It saves you time in that you don't have to scramble to come up with something to cook. No "it's 5 pm what's for dinner" drama!

There are a couple of ways you can approach menu planning. You can plan your meals either from your pantry or from weekly sales. Planning from sales means that you take your grocery stores' flyers, see what's on sale and most people will plan around what protein is on sale. So if chicken breasts and pork chops are on sale then that's basically what you'll be having for dinner that week.

Planning from your pantry means I shop my pantry and decide what to make. Since I grocery shop mostly to replenish my pantry, almost everything I make is made with something that's already been purchased on sale. Brenda has some very good posts on how to stock a pantry on her blog - Thoughts on How I Stock My Pantry Part I and How I Stock Up Part II if you don't know where or how to begin. Having a pantry is really, really, really important! Really!!

You should also look at your family's schedule when planning. I have a general idea of at least the kind of cooking I will be doing during the week. For example, every Friday night is family movie night. It's the only time we eat dinner in front of the TV so I usually make finger foods like chicken fingers & fries, or hot dogs, something that's not messy to eat off a TV tray. Saturday's I know is our busiest day so I usually plan on a crock-pot meal or something that can be made quickly like stir-fry or salad. Sundays is a more relaxed day and I usually make a more complicated meal or try something new since I know I have more time at home.

Some people will need to plan 3 meals a day and some will only need to do their most important meal, be it dinner or lunch. Some people like to have a specific menu for each day. This is what I do and I just take out the protein to defrost the night before. Some people feel there's no flexibility doing it this way (and I used to too but have since changed my mind). But you've got to take your protein out the day before to defrost anyway, so unless you're reheating something already cooked (like in Once A Month Cooking) you more or less can't really go by what you've got a taste for anyway!

Some use a more flexible schedule where you have a list of meals for say two weeks but they're not assigned to a specific day. You cross off that meal from your list when you make it.

As with most things, you have to find a system that works for you! But planing your meals really does help you to control your food bill and these days every little bit helps!

Some of you may recognize this post - it's an edited version of one I wrote last year. I'm on a blog break this week as this is the last week before my daughter heads back to school for her last semester of HS (sigh and sob!) Where has the time gone? My husband is also taking the week off from work so we have some family fun planned plus the usual back to school running around! I have a post scheduled for Wednesday and I'll be checking my email but other than that I'm leaving the computer off. In the mean time have a look through my archives if you're new here. They're arranged by category.

I'll be back on the weekend with the rest of my Blue Toile Room. I hope you all have a great week and thanks for stopping by!

All images are from


Farmgirl Paints said...

Great post and cute pics. I am not very good at meal planning. As a matter of fact that is probably why I don't cook's a planning thing. Very good ideas. Have a great week "off".

Colleen said...

I totally agree with you! Even though I don't actually make a menu most of the time, I know it is the best thing to do. I cook almost all of our meals at home because I love to cook. Sadly though I spend a fortune on groceries because of not planning. I waste because of not planning. So I just need to make it a priority.

Glenda/MidSouth said...

Enjoy your break and time with your family. See you when you get back.

Rhonda said...

Hope you all have a fun week together.

I also let meal planning slip this summer and just got back on the band wagon 2 weeks ago after some expensive and less than wonderful restaurant meals.

Anonymous said...

Love that three meals a day picture...I just love allposters...I could sit for hours looking at their pictures!!

Planning is always a great help, I wish I did it more, it is a $$ saver for sure!

About Southern Belle said...

Now that the morning sickness is easing a bit I am able to get back to meal planning now that I can look at food, lol. Thanks for the ideas.

Have a great week with your family, I hope you all have a wonderful time!

GoodPlans said...

Thanks for the great repost. I needed it, since I'm coming off "summer flexibility" and starting my menus again. Also, since we just purchased a new fridge, my grocery budget is severly limited this payday, so I really need to shop from my stockpile! On a seperate note, will your daughter be graduating in the winter? Have a great week!

Ally's Corner said...

I always plan my meals a week in advance. I can tell you want we will have next Wednesday for dinner.
This doesn't work for everyone but it works well for me.


Eileen said...

You are absolutely right about the meal planning. When I sit down and plan a menu of dinners for the week, I am much more inclined to eat healthy and cook new things. That has pretty much gone out the window the last couple of months, so the timing of your post couldn't be better. Thanks!

Diane Shiffer said...

I am also a firm believer in meal planning.. if I don't plan we end up eating who knows what. The kids also really like knowing what they'll be having for various meals... I write the schedule out on the whiteboard on the kitchen door, so they don't even need to ask (of course they still do ask- why? I have no idea, lol) I used to post my weekly meal plan on the sidebar of my blog too, just for accountability's sake (as a single mama, I can use all the accountability I can get!) I don't know how I got out of the habit of that, but I should re-institute it☺

Betsy Brock said...

Love the vintage pics t o go with this post. I like to shop the sales and stock the pantry and freezer. Then I plan the menus around what I already have. I agree doing this weekly before you go shopping really changes how and what you buy...and saves money.

Enjoy your family this week! :) My oldest starts college in 2 weeks! "Where has the time gone?" is right!

Confessions of a Plate Addict said...

Hi Manuela! I'm with you...I can think one week ahead, but that's about it for me! It does help cut back on trips to the grocery store. I scrolled down and took a peek at your blue toile bedroom! You know I love that..any excuse to put blue transferware plates on the wall! lol Happy weekend and enjoy your break!...Debbie

Darlene said...

Have a great break!!! I am not very good at meal planning but I have been doing much better than I used to. I just don't want to eat out much anymore, so I have to cook.

Angie said...

I think you must have wrote this post for me because I SOOOOO need to plan my meals better and stress out about it everyday. My middle name is "it's 5 o'clock and what in the heck are we going to have for dinner"! You have inspired me to do better. Have a wonderful week with your family!!!

Mimi Sue said...

Some great ideas, Manuela. When I had all the kids at home I was a much better planner. You've inspired me to try again. Mimi

Scrappy quilter said...

Great post!! One of the best way to save is to have a well stocked pantry with items purchased on sale when possible. Have a wonderful week.

Brenda Pruitt said...

Now that my girls are grown, and my husband works too far away to come home for lunch, I no longer do this. At night I usually do something simple like scrambled eggs or cereal and eat my main meal at lunch. If my husband is home he likes to work out in his work out room and have a protein shake. But when my kids were young, I would spend all Sunday afternoon baking up and preparing food to freeze. And then reheat during the week. We didn't have microwaves then either, so would be so much easier now!

Storybook Woods said...

Have a wonderful blog break xoxox Clarice

carolyn@simple~primitive~devotion said...

Hey girl! I'm a meal planner too and I do it week by week. It really does save time and money!

I also wanted to thank you for looking at my auctions. I think they ended before you got a chance, but hopefully I will have time to list more this week.

Enjoy this special time with your daughter. Time rushes by a lot faster than we realize.

Have a great week!

{oc cottage} said...

You have an AWESOME blog break!!! There are some things more important than blogging **GASP** ;)

m ^..^

Gracie said...

Just back from my vacation and trying to read all the posts I missed while I was away. Thanks for sharing your tips, as always.

Jennifer said...

With a super busy family of five, meal planning has been a lifesaver to me over the last couple of years. I usually plan for a week at a time, but I always keep an "emergency" meal (or four!) on hand for when our plans change. Meal planning definitely does wonders for the budget!

Enjoy your week away! We go back to school next week as well. This is the only week this summer we haven't had sports & band practices, so we are planning on taking it a bit easy before venturing out on the "longest yardsale" this weekend.

hugs, Jen

Signing Out said...

This is such a good post! I like to plan meals for the week before grocery shopping. When I'm really organized about it, I look online at the grocery store sales circulars. The nice thing about it is you have the ingredients in the house, and you don't have to worry about what your making for supper that day.

I enjoy crock pot cooking, too. I like being able to fix it and forget about it.


Sharon said...

Good Morning Manuela! This is so true and such an encouraging reminder. Thank you and have a wonderful week :)


Salmagundi said...

Enjoy your break - a break is always good! BTW, I'm a pantry cook as I don't think I could do it any other way. It is so flexible. Have a great week. Sally

Eileen said...

Hi Manuela -
I just wanted to let you know that I passed on the Share the Love award to you on my blog. Your blog is one of my absolute favorites. :)

kattz*cottage said...

This is such great info & I love the pictures! I always have good intentions for planning meals & am halfway successful but would like to plan for new dishes that I've never made....the week is usually gone before I remember to read a cookbook for new ideas! Thanks for such a great post & enjoy your time away!


Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries® said...

Good Morning Manuela! Great post (as always). You always inspire me to thought and action! Like you, I've been menu planning and shopping my pantry for decades (literally ;) and have learned first hand how frugal and freeing it is to have a plan. Now that it's just Mike, Rosie and I (and the older two kids off and on) my plan has relaxed a bit. I actually take my little menu planner/grocery list (I still use the same one from the first book) and see what I have in the freezer and pantry and let my imagination go from there! I plan a loose menu and write down meals I can and/or want to make and then number them, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. and then decide what to have which night, depending on our schedule and/or weather that week. Okay my friend, I am off to look at the pantry post from your archives and browse around a bit. I hope you're enjoying your family time before school starts.

P. S. Oh, I LOVE Brenda's blog and her advice on stocking the pantry. She really has a lovely way of putting practical things!

TheRoosterChick said...

Great tips, I'm right along with you on this one. If I didn't plan my meals, I'd be a total wreck. BTW, luv the rooster pic!