Despite what I said in my last post, of course I do meal planning. It works for me for a lot of reasons:
- My schedule is 75% regular and I can work around the other 25%
- It’s easy to coordinate with just 2 adults in the house
- I love eating and I hate wasting food
- I like cooking and have time to cook meals after work
- I like trying new recipes
- It saves time and money to go to the grocery store with a list
- When I’m at work I think about what the meal will be that night and I look forward to it
- Making decisions in advance makes me feel they’ve been made for me; therefore I don’t have to think too much late in the day!
I had good reasons to start meal planning two years ago: our household was switching to a Real Food diet and I was also motivated to teach my 18-year-old how to plan and cook meals before leaving home!
Now Rom and I have settled into our own “for two” routine and our goals changed: we have been vegetarian now for 8 months, and Rom has stepped up the number of meals he makes each month. We have also decided that we have a high tolerance for leftovers. Lately we have been making a large pot of soup, stew or a casserole early in the week and having it three nights (or freezing some for another week). For a few months we were making new recipes every day, but we missed our old favourites!
Our current process is:
- On a Sunday afternoon at the end of the month, sit in the kitchen with our favourite cookbooks and choose 5 meals each, most of which will serve for 2-3 evening meals
- Get out the calendar and note any evenings that both of us won’t be at home (we fend for ourselves those nights)
- Plot the meals on the calendar – I spread them out so Rom and I alternate cooking, and our back-to-back meals are not too much alike
- Fill in any gaps with additional one-day meals or frozen leftovers
- Leave a couple of blank days at the end of the month for “eating out of the cupboards” (using up food that is already purchased and unused)
You will be interested to know that we have used this system for two years and Rom has just now started experimenting and adjusting recipes instead of making them as specified. And I thought I was exacting
Even our calm little lives do not go as expected and we make A LOT of changes to our meal plans. When we can’t make that day’s meal (maybe because it takes too long after we’ve been stuck in traffic), we choose another one from the same month that uses up ingredients we have on hand. Then we might have to swap again because the next day’s meal is too similar. By the end of the month, we usually have a couple of meals we didn’t make because our leftovers lasted longer than expected, or we went out. We make sure to choose meals that use up the perishables, and carry over meals that can wait.
Here is an example of what a month might have looked like, and how it turned out. I don’t consider this a failure because we eat well and cook most of our own meals and avoid waste.
We don’t normally eat out anywhere near this much, but life happens!
What is your “success rate” at sticking to a meal plan?