Monday, February 25, 2013

Meal Planning

It took me a while to get a handle on meal planning. I'm more of a "let's look in the fridge to see what we can make" kind of person.  One of our favorite shows to watch on TV is Restaurant Impossible.  Talk about meal planning!  Even restaurants have trouble with it.  All of the failing restaurants have too many options and too much frozen and boxed food just sitting in their kitchens getting old; and not enough fresh dishes (less expensive and healthy whole foods that taste better) on the menu.

So here is how I took on the challenge of meal planning.
1. FAILED - Option 1 - Buy on sale and figure out menus later.  
This was a failure for me. I bought items I thought I would need for meals I thought I may prepare, just to have the food sit in the fridge.   The fresh food would start to go bad, so I quickly made a smoothie out of it; and the frozen food lingered.  Sometimes I made a great dish, but I usually had to go back to the store for a missing ingredient.  Sound familiar?  I gave this option a FAIL.
2. FAILED - Option 2 - Schedule out a weeks worth of meals and snacks
This failed for me because it was too detailed. I found some great recipes and great meal plans online.  On Saturday I shopped for all of the items I would need to prepare these great dishes.  My food bill was over $200!  Eeek!  With a fully stocked fridge we started the week.  I fix a whole food smoothie for the family and mom and Ted make their breakfasts during the week.  For lunch I was preparing salads and then at 4pm I was in the kitchen prepping dinner.  Phew!  By Wednesday I was ready to eat out. LOL!
3. SUCCESS! - Option 3 - Pick 3-4 recipes, prep on one day, eat healthy all week
I found success in using this method.  I pick 3-4 recipes that I want to cook for dinner during the week.  I make enough for 6 so we can eat the leftovers for lunch.  I shop for only the items I need for those recipes, plus what I need for our lunchtime salads and morning smoothies.  I can easily stay under $100 per week for the 3 of us with this kind of planning.
Then on one-day, for me Monday, I preset the stage for the week.
  • Assemble a weeks worth of salads in a large container
  • Mom makes a pot of rice and divides the rice into sandwich bags for easy reheating
  • Ted is my seafood shopper!
  • I mix up my spices, cut up the ingredients and put it into a container with a little note taped to it saying what to add and how to cook it
I've recently learned how to prep 10 dinners that can be put in the freezer until they are ready to be eaten.  Go to my Healthy Eating page on this blog learn about Freezer Meal recipes.    I'll be facilitating Freezer Meal parties starting 16 March!


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