Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Meal Plan Mania

Money Saving Mom is hosting an awesome series about grocery budgeting this week.I wanted to link her series as well as share some of my meal planning routines just in case you'd like to....okay, I'll be honest...in case you'd also like to jump on the crazy train headed toward the land of obsessive compulsive along with me. What? Honesty, people. I'm just being honest.

All joking aside, I like to be organized in the areas of life I do not enjoy. Such as taxes. Things like my pretty fabric stash can be crumpled in my closet because I enjoy taking it all out and admiring it again while I organize it for the eleventeenth time. If this was the same case as my old tax returns, I may have an anxiety attack. I also do not LOVE to cook or meal plan. I would much rather go out to eat, or plain have a servant to do it all for me. Alas, but this is part of my JOB, so I have to muscle through it.

So, then, my thought was....how can we make this process as close to painless as possible?

Make it Brainless - How annoying is it to hem and haw on Sunday afternoon about what your family is going to eat that week when you'd rather be napping? I thought so too, so I wrote down 30 of our family's favorite meals, including sides down in my Household Notebook. Now, I can just go through them and pick and choose what we'll eat that week. Sure, I like to try new recipes every now and then, but if it's not that great, it's never going to make the LIST.

After I've picked them, I go searching for ingredients I already have. Then I write down what I need on my grocery list.

Make it Thorough - I meal plan as much as possible--breakfasts, lunches, and sometimes even snacks. This is nice because I never really feel awake enough in the morning to be creative with Ava's meals (" how 'bout cereal again, honey?"), and when there's a list already planned for me, well, that makes it even better.

Make it Cheap- Be realistic with yourself about your money-saving aspirations. If you're not a couponer, then be logical and go to Walmart, where you'll still save money. If you are a couponer, use as much tactic as possible to get what will make your meals. Notice I said "what will make your meals." This doesn't have to be this week's meals, but if you're buying that ground turkey when you've never made a turkey meal in your life, well, this is going to be more of a hassle that a money-saving moment, isn't it? The Grocery Game is a good coupon resource, but so are so many other smart shoppers out there who will post what's on sale where and what coupon to use FOR FREE. There may be a little more work involved, but searching for "target coupon deals" among Google's Blog search yields some noteworthy results on Sunday afternoon.

Another frugal tactic is buying fresh ingredients to make something. Homemade cookies are so much better. Homemade lasagna is amazing. Homemade cinnamon rolls send me into a trance. Shop the perimeters and avoid the middle aisles as much as you can.

Make It Good - Sometimes I have cravings for something good that I would only be eating out. Girlfriend, make it at home! I've made P.F. Chang's lettuce wraps in the crock pot, and felt pretty good when the check never came.

I did have to wash the dishes, though.

I so need a servant.


Kelsey said...

So true...I am pregnant and chasing around a toddler all day...I would love a servant. well maybe not a full time servant, but I'd love to have my house cleaned by someone other than me once a week!

Lovely Little Nest said...

LOVE the "30 of our family's favorite meals" chart! I can usually remember our most-enjoyed recipes, but I rarely remember where I stored them {internet? computer file? aunt eileen's cookbook? let's just order pizza...}. Thanks for the links! :)

Melissa_Rae said...

I made PF Chang's lettuce wraps at home once and I liked mine better than theirs! :) It was nice to not have to tip anyone...but you're right...I need a servant too. :) Great tips! Thanks.

Robyn said...

Hey Alison! It's Robyn (Klatt) Areheart. I have visited your blog a few times. =) And I have to tell you, about all of this organization - I.Am.Seriously.Impressed... and INSPIRED! I am going to try to copy some of your systems! Thanks for sharing all the helpful information!

amanda k. brown said...

i want to see your top 30. i love that idea. and do you have a recipe for homemade cinnamon rolls? yikes.

PenelopeLovesLists said...

You need a servant and I always say I need a wife!

Wouldn't having a wife be the best darn thing?

SWhit said...

Will you share that PF Changs lettuce wraps recipe?