Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Meal Planning

I need help. 
There now that I've admitted it, it should get easier right? I hope so. 
I'm stuck in a rut of waiting until naptime, and then frantically trying to decide what to make for supper. The problem is that between 2 toddlers, trying to workout regularly, special diets, school work and all the regular household chores, I seem to end up throwing together the same thing over and over again. Then I get part way through the month and realize all the ground beef is gone, but there is lots of other meat left and I have to get creative again :) Also, I've been trying to workout and do some studying during naptime so that I can have a (small) life in the evening when hubby gets home. If I can get some studying done during the day then I only have to do an hour or two in the evening vs burying myself in a pile of books all night! But when I procrastinate all morning on supper prep I end up cooking at naptime and my time is gone! 

So these are my questions....

If you meal plan, how do you do it? Do you plan 1 week in advance? 2? A month? What is your system? Do you stick with it? Do you preplan everything or just the meat part? Do you find that even though you plan you deviate from your schedule? 

I have found multiple ideas on Pinterest that I want to make for a menu board (because I know myself, if I make something crafty I will actually use it lol), but I'm interested to know what everyone else does. I've done the chalkboard (write it up every month) menu on the inside of the pantry door and it ends up getting erased or I end up forgetting about it. So I want to do something fun and functional.

I've seen ones (like THISthat are magnetic and allow you to add magnets for main, veggie and side separately. I can see this coming in handy with using everything in the fridge. Every time you go grocery shopping put the magnets on the board for what you have bought, then make sure you use all the magnets before shopping again :)

Other ones (like THIS) are simple and it's just a choice of a pre-decided meal. 

Then there are the over organized ones (like THIS & THIS) that would probably just give me a headache everytime I looked at it! Is anyone out there really this organized? 

Personally I am leaning towards one like the first picture above (the magnetic one) or one like THIS, recipe/ingredients are printed on the back with the name of the meal on the front. Printed on business cards with small nail holes punched into each one so they hang easily: 

What do you think? Please leave me a comment with what you do for meal planning, I need help! I've been up for 2 hours already this morning and would love to have supper already prepped or at least planned. However it's not happening! I'm thinking it's going to end up being a taco salad night...again!


  1. I like the red planner & the black one. The middle 2 are WAY too busy and would also give me a headache!
    I plan my meals out for the week sometimes 2 if I'm modivated! Usually the meat/main is the most challenging, but if I know what I have in my freezer then I plan accordingly. Usually 1 day a week is meatless and I try to make that Monday. Side dishes always consist of some sort of carb (Brown Rice, Yams, Perogies) and then veggies of some sort(Greek or Spinach salad or I use frozen veggies, sometimes I just chop up veggies and we eat them raw as well). Most of the time I stick to my plan but if I feel too tired to make my planned meal for that day, I'll switch it up with something else in the week that's easier and quicker. Set out a time, evening or weekend where you think ahead of your meals for the week, that's what I do, then I write them down on my planner. Go through your recipes and write down new ones you want to try or ones you haven't done in a while to mix it up. We always have several I go to every week or two, that are our staple dishes. Like Chicken or Beef Nachos with extra veggies, some sort of BBQ meat with Rice & veggies and usually a pasta every 2 weeks.
    I think once you've got a nice planner on the wall somewhere where it can't be hidden it'll be easier to see and stick with it! :) ~Jaime

  2. ugh. I totally had a huge long comment typed up and something happened with my mouse and it disappeared. Take number two.

    I plan a month in advance. I don't plan breakfast or lunch. Only supper. (I know people who plan B, L, S, and a snack a month in advance, and I personally think they are crazy... I mean, incredible.) ;)
    For me, it takes me no more than an hour, and then I don't have to think about it again for another month. I keep a typed list handy of my favourite "go to" recipes which make up the majority of my meals and draw from that as I'm planning. We almost always have pizza on Tuesdays and quesadillas on Fridays, so that leaves me with only 5 days each week to worry about.
    I use a spreadsheet on my computer, with a box for the meal of the day as well as "Merrick's lunch" for the day. The lunch box fills in automatically when I type in a meal for two days prior. That way if we have pizza on Tuesday, he gets the leftovers on Thursday instead of the very next day.
    My spreadsheet gets printed and put on my cupboard where I can see it easily. When I go grocery shopping, about once a week, I'll check what's coming up for the next 7 days and make sure I have all the ingredients for it.
    Some days I run out of time, or just plain don't feel like eating what's on the menu. I roll with it and switch it for something later in the week, or just invent something totally different.
    I've tried a variety of other planners and systems, but for some reason, this is the one that works for me. All the other ones with magnets and pins and chalkboards, etc. have flunked in our house.
    I hope you can figure out a great system and make it work. It's so nice not having to stress about meals. :)

  3. Thanks for the ideas ladies! I hope to have something sorted out and going here soon so that I can stop 'figuring out supper' every day!
    I like both of your ideas of the same things on certain days, even if it's not the same meal, but the same meal idea (meatless etc.) on a specific day every week.

    Krystal - I would love to do a leftover lunch for hubby, but alas then I would have to cook for 8-10 people instead of the 6-7 people I already cook for because he takes at least 2 full meals a day to work. We generally operate on sandwiches for work lunches because of that fact. The older the kids get, the more I already have to cook. When it was just the 2 of us I cooked for 3-4 people, now that it's the 4 of us, I cook enough for 6-7 people every meal (and the kids are still toddlers!)'s crazy! I'm picturing camp size recipes when they are teenagers lol.

    I really want to make a nice meal planner for the wall, so I'm still on the hunt but in the meantime I might start with a simple one on the fridge, just to start the process :) For the first time in our lives we have decided to stay in the house we are in and not perpetually move, so I'm currently in a state of 'put things on the walls'!

    1. That's crazy how much you guys eat!! :D
      And for Merrick, on top of the leftover portion of his lunch, he also receives at least one sandwich, 2-3 pieces of fruit, 2 granola bars, and a bag of fresh vegetables (which generally is 1 pepper, 1/2 cucumber, 1 medium carrot, and 2-3 stalks of celery.) He also almost always will take a salad too, so his the leftovers is only a small part of his lunch.
      Even if I didn't need a "lunch" part of the spreadsheet, I know I would still use my computer to do the planning. I've thought about making a cool board to put up on the wall and just fill it in on a week by week basis, based on what I have on my sheet. That would be less functional and more for aesthetics. ;)

    2. Yeah, you should see our grocery bill...especially since having to go gf!! I try not to look :)

      He takes a 32 oz smoothie every morning which consists of 2 bananas, a handful of cherries or strawberries, milk and 2 scoops of protein powder (48g protein). Then he has 2 ham, cheese & pickle sandwiches (sometimes egg salad), 2 yogurts (175g each) and 2 med/large apples. Then he eats the moment he gets home :) I got sick of making granola bars so I kind of went on strike. The protein smoothie is a nice substitute!
      As for the kids, I packed them a picnic lunch today and they ate almost everything. It contained 2 pb&j sandwiches, a large handful of cubed cheese, a handful of grape tomatoes, a large handful of chopped strawberries, pickles, small pack of graham cracker style cookies & 2 fruit sticks (like fruit snacks). The only thing that came home were a few tomatoes and some pickles. And this wasn't long after they ate breakfast! Oy!


Let me know your thoughts!