Monday, June 4, 2012

Meal Planning

I feel a little silly writing an entire post about this, but I've received several emails recently commenting on, or asking specific questions about, how I plan our meals.  So I figured I'd give you a look into my crazy process.

I'm a bit of a recipe hoarder collector.  I've got my Pinterest boards, cookbooks, the accordion file, binders, and recipes that people have forwarded to me in emails. And of course, the ones that are engraved in my head.  So each time I sit down to plan our next menu, I pick one or two places to pull from. 

This week I used the accordion file and my binders.  The file has recipes I've ripped from the newspaper and magazines.  My binders are recipes I've made before that made it into the keep pile.

They're both organized by type of food.  Beef, Chicken, Pork, Appetizers, Drinks, Veggies, Soups, Sammies, Desserts, etc.  Usually, I pull out or mark anything that sounds good and then narrow it down based on what I've got in the fridge, freezer and pantry.

No matter where I'm pulling the recipes from, I keep a running list of the names.  That way, if I end up with six chicken recipes, for example, I can cross some off.

Once I've got a pretty good mix, I write the name of the recipe, whatever I would make to go with it, and then next to it, I jot down the ingredients that I don't already have in the house.

Once the dinners are figured out, I write down any breakfast, lunch or snack ideas that I may want to try to work in.

Then, using the rough draft list I just made, as well as the running list I keep on the fridge, I make a final grocery list, written in order of how the store is set up.  Less chance of missing something that way.

And just when you think that has to be it, I bust out my manufacturer's coupons and see if I have any for the things on my list. 

Also, depending on what store I'm going to, I'll check their weekly print ad.

If I have any coupons, or something is on sale, I make a note next to the item on the list so I can check the item in the store and see if it comes out as the best price.  If not, I go with whatever is.

Finally, I write out the menu and hang it on the fridge. 

Oh yeah, and I actually have to go to the grocery store.  Which I did.  Tonight.  And it was horrid.  I took Baby.  Idiot.  She has a cold and was kinda off today, so I figured instead of ditching her with The Dad, I'd just take her along.  Idiot.  She cried the ENTIRE TIME.  Well, that's not true.  She stopped crying when I got to the checkout.  Idiot.  Also, I realized something on the way to my car when all I wanted to do was cry from my miserable shopping experience.  It's the first Monday of the month.  And I went to Winco.  At 4:00 pm. Idiot.  The cream of the crop shop there under normal circumstances.  Add to that the fact that it was 4pm on the first of the month and I may as well have been in Kentucky.  No offense to anyone living in Kentucky.  Unless you have Mountain Dew mouth like everyone at Winco tonight.  The people in front of me spent $700 on kool-aid and pork and mystery boxes of semi-prepared food.  Did you hear me?  $700 DOLLARS!!!!!  I shit you not.  They had two carts and I swear to you they did not have one single piece of fresh produce.  NONE.  I'm sure they were lookin' at my stuff comin' down the belt thinkin', "damn vegetarians".

Anyhoo, enough about that.  In case anyone is curious, I spent $66. 

If any of the new recipes are worth sharing, you know I'm all over it for ya.  We had the sinigang tonight, which I already knew was good 'cause my BIL makes it for us all the time.  I also made the green smoothie already.  Um, amazingly delicious.  I'll try to get it posted tomorrow.

Off to watch the tail end of Master Chef.....


  1. You're freaking me out with how organized your recipes are. Yes, you do have a recipe addiction. I'm so glad I don't cook. Funny story about the store...kind of sounds like Mississippi too (sorry fellow southerners).

  2. What! $66 to make all of that you have written down! No wonder you cook such amazing meals, you've got like a million to choose from! I'm crazy jealous of your discipline/system but we do have one thing in common...I do organize my grocery list by aisle. Drives me nuts when I forget something or have to walk across the whole store to get it. And I hate that all the grocery stores are set up differently. There should be a standard grocery store layout that they all go by. I think I'll introduce a bill in congress.

  3. You crack me up! I've GOT to start meal planning and sticking with it. I did it for a couple of weeks and it was the easiest two weeks of my life. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  4. I'd say my process is somewhat similar but it doesn't come out to $66 in the end, though closer to you than $700. Ridiculous. I just made homemade taquitos and pico last night. My pico wasn't great but the taquitos were outstanding. I always love seeing what you are eating because it makes me be a little moreadventurous in my meal planning.

  5. jeez la weeez!!! You are a beast! I actually really like your steps.. it's a commitment tho! But. That's how it's done right, right? I like how you looked at your coupons BEFORE going, to match up your list to what your coupons. I bring my coupon thing and flip through it at the store, trying to match things in my cart to any coupons, and I usually get irritated and give up. I need to do what you do.

    Thank you for sharing this!

    ps. you have BEAUTIFUL handwriting.

  6. I used to be super good at meal planning. Then I got lazy. Also, I second Makaila's comment about your handwriting... mine looks like chickenscratch compared to yours!

  7. Yeah, I never keep the cost that low either, but I do a similar process to yours. Makes life so much easier and tastier if you don't have to brainstorm what dinner is going to be last minute.

  8. We have a similar system. Pick the recipes, make the menu, go through coupons. Simple. I would love to see an extreme couponer in real life. I can't believe people really do that. Have you noticed that on the show they are always really large. Probably because they are eating all of that processed stuff. Can't wait to see if you have any winning recipes to share.

  9. I love love love that you are so detailed in your meal planning. You also make so many different kinds of meals. I wish I would do that. I am so SICK of cooking because I swear we eat the same 15 meals over, over and over again! Plus, I have 3 picky eaters, so it seems there is always one kid complaining about not liking dinner. Then if I try a new meal, I have 3 kids complaining. UGH

    1. Hi Karie! Trust me, I have complainers at the table every night, as well. Someone always has somethin' to moan about. It's funny, sometimes I wish I could just rotate the same 15 meals. But I'm obsessed with trying new recipes. I go through my binder of things I've made before and loved, and wonder why I don't' just make those things over and over. But then I go through my recipe stash or Pinterest and obsessively want to MAKE ALL THE THINGS. LOL I know the way I do it is a lot of extra work for most people, but maybe you could try one new thing once a week? And even let the kids pick a new ingredient or a new country to cook from. They could take turns and critique each other's choices. :0)


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