How we do meal planning

September 24, 2010

Meal planning has never really worked for me – plans change, the food in the fridge/pantry never matches what I need by the end of the cycle, or I have too much stuff left over, but after a few months with the baby and eating whatever was in front of us, something had to change.  Here’s how we’re planning our meals now, it seems to be working great!

As I mentioned in the video, this is a followup to Monday’s newsletter lesson about changing things up if they’re not working for you.

Do you plan meals in advance?  If you’re reading this shortly after it went live, there’s probably a survey in the sidebar to the right.  I’d love to get your feedback quickly through the survey and in more detail in the comments!

(And hey, don’t I look stoned in this video?  It’s all exhaustion, I promise.  Working on it, gotta make sure we’re representing veganism well!)

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

steph September 26, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Generally, I plan a week. Get the CSA bx on Wednesday, mull it over Thursday at work, make a menu, check with the SO, go to the farmer’s market Friday at lunch and pick up the rest Friday night.

I like having a list of dinners, but I don’t plan what goes on which day. It narrows down my options, so I can choose what I feel like cooking, but it’s not a choice from scratch, which is too much for me on a busy weeknight.

Sometimes there are leftovers, or I just add the meal that was missed to the next week’s menu. I need some order to the chaos.

James September 26, 2010 at 6:39 pm

I plan for the day, but only for the things that need to be planned. So if I’m marinating some tempeh, or if I have some spinach that will go bad tomorrow, then I know I’ll use those – but when it comes to deciding whether the meal will be rounded out with rice or with potatoes, I don’t decide that until I have to.

Haley September 27, 2010 at 8:24 am

I get a weekly box from Boston Organics and work around that, my box comes on Friday but the list is available for me too peep at all week so I have a week of planning what to do with it.

I tend to only plan out a few days though and wing the rest using as much as possible but inevitably things get switched around if I feel lazy, crave something or forget something I needed at the market (even planning and making lists I STILL do this all the time! D’oh!).

Colleen September 27, 2010 at 12:21 pm

I plan each day in the morning, over breakfast (or, more likely, coffee), like you’ve been doing. It often works, but not as often as it should. I’m fickle and lately, utterly exhausted, and sometimes that veggie stew turns into a sammich. Or, sadly, compost.

One important thing I’ve recently learned to do, to avoid wastage with fruits and greens (a big problem for me), is to chop and freeze things before they go bad, for use in smoothies. I think I’m saving a fair bit of cash this way AND there’s always kale or spinach available for my breakfast drink.

Jason September 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Do greens freeze well? I’ve never tried it, but I suppose if you’re only using them for smoothies it could work. Our fridge is packed right now and I don’t want to rely on decay for more room to appear, so I might give that a shot, thanks!

Patabugen September 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm

I don’t really do any planning at all, I cycle past a green grocers on the way home from work where I pickup whatever looks interesting, generally causing a bit of chatter asking “So er, how do you cook this?”.

Once I get home I just play around in the kitchen until something comes out. Which, after lots of practice, doesn’t always take too long. And if it takes all night, at least I’m doing what I love 🙂

I’m currently munching on a bowl of noodles boiled with onions, veggie stock and a splash of ‘seasoning’ (something like a cross between soy sauce and chillie, I think) mixed into a salad of cabbage, lettuce and tomato drizzled in Olive Oil, Vinegar and Zatar.

Every day is an adventure 🙂 And I have pasta + sauce in the cupboard for the days when I’m feeling lazy!

Barbi September 27, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Ohhh we are opposites on this! I must admit I chuckled when you said you consider planning your meals the day of, planning ahead. 🙂

I plan a week ahead. Usually on Thursday or Friday because we tend to do our grocery shopping on Saturday or Sunday. There is the odd time when we’ll plan let’s say three dinners for the week and it turns out a meal we planned made enough last us three nights instead of two, so we’ll end up having bought groceries for a meal that we didn’t end up making and there may be some produce that ends up in the compost, but we usually are able to find another use for it, or like Colleen said, freeze it and save it for another day.

That being said, I find grocery shopping enjoyable and I would love to be able to go grocery shopping every couple of days to get ingredients for just the next couple of days of meals, rather than do one HUGE grocery shopping excursion for the week that breaks our backs, but we just don’t have the time to get out to the grocery store more than once or twice a week. I don’t know how you do it with a baby!!!

Another problem with our routine of planning weekly is that, we often do wind up doing grocery shopping on Sunday, but when planning meals for the week, we usually plan for Mon-Fri, so we forget to plan for Saturday and wake up and realize we have no food!

Jason September 28, 2010 at 12:49 am

Sometimes going to the grocery store is the only excuse I have for leaving the house! Plus, I grew up watching the Urban Peasant, and the show opening had him shopping for foods for the day’s meal. There’s some weird hunter vs gatherer thought running through my head as well (hunter = buy food the day of, gatherer = buy for the week) but I can’t make the words do the thing where they get read in an order that I like right now.

Jennifer October 1, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I usually plan 2 weeks in advance, sometimes more since I hate grocery shopping and I try to limit the major shopping trips to 2 times a month, although every week or so I buy fresh produce. The days for each meal are not set in stone, even though I have a particular meal assigned to each day. Having a plan ensures that I have all the ingredients on hand for all the meals so that I can fix them on whatever day I want. I also make a big pot of soup every week. Normally I only cook 3 days a week and always have enough leftovers for the other days, in addition to soup and sandwich meals.

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