Friday, August 12, 2011

Save money, save time - Meal Plan!

Oh my gosh!  TGIM is going to be home in 10 minutes, he's going to be starving and I have no idea what we're having for dinner!  I used to say that a lot.

Oh crap!  The green beans (or whatever vegetable) are moldy.  I used to say that a lot too.

How the heck did our grocery bill get this high?  You guessed it, I said that a lot too.

How did I stop saying all the above?  Meal planning!  Not only does meal planning save time, and money it helps you plan/build a well balanced meal.  There are many ways to go about meal planning and what works for me may not (and probably won't) work for you, but I thought I'd share some tips with you.

Most people plan anywhere from 1 week to 1 month.  I do 1 week.  This is because we subscribe to a weekly produce co-op that we pick up on Saturdays.  They usually post the contents 3 or 4 days in advance so we know what we're getting.  Usually on Wednesdays I sit down and plan for the following week.  During the school year, Thurs are my shopping days but right now TGIM generally picks up the few things I need because he meets his vanpool in the grocery store parking lot.

Some people have high tech spreadsheets and meal planner sites they use.  Not me.  I have a lovely composition book that a good friend of mine altered (decorated) and gave me.  I use that to plan my meals.  It's easy and works well for me.

Although I'm fairly organized in life (I did NOT clean up the cabinets for the pictures in past posts, that's how the always look) I'm not so strict with my meals.  Just because it says on Monday we're having grilled chicken and Wednesday we're having Chile Verde, sometimes I switch it around, as long as I still make the things on the list.

On Saturday we're getting - watermelon, green beans, jalapenos, lettuce, sweet peppers, potatoes, sorrel, tomatoes, cucumbers, and summer squash.  Recently we purchased 1/4 side of beef so I've got plenty of beef in the freezer and I pretty much always have some chicken in there.  One of Grimway Farms organic farm sites is literally a mile away from my house and during the summer they have an organic produce stand where we can get fresh, local, organic produce for really reasonable prices

Here's what my meal plan for next week looks like
  • Sat 8/13 - green chile hamburgers, grilled sweet peppers and summer squash (the day before we're having chile verde stew so I'm saving some of the chile verde for my burger.
  • Sun 8/14 - spaghetti and meatballs.  It's Robin's (my older son) birthday and his current favorite meal
  • Mon 8/15 - Steak Salad (using the lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes)
  • Tues 8/16 - Grilled chicken with quinoa risotto (using carrots and spinach from the Stand)
  • Wed 8/17 - Roast chicken with sorrel and onions and potatoes (the onions are leftover from last week)
  • Thurs 8/18 - potstickers, sesame green beans and ramen noodles
  • Fri 8/19 - quinoa cakes, cucumber salad and tomato zucchini gratin (cucumbers and tomatoes from the basket and zucchini from the garden
Lots of times I'll "cook once, eat twice" but I didn't do so well with that this week, except for cooking extra quinoa on Tuesday for the quinoa cakes on Friday.  I'm hoping we'll have some leftover roast chicken and I can make soup or enchiladas from the leftovers.  It used to be that I could get 3 meals off 1 chicken but the boys have discovered chicken and love it.  I will make stock out of the carcass though.  And TGIM will get lunch the next day.

That's pretty much it in a nutshell.  If you have any meal planning tips, I'd love to hear them. 

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