Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Meal Plannig

Okay. Melissa wants everyone to weigh in on meal planning. So, let us oblige.


I have - at different times - done meals all three ways she mentions.


1. do you plan your week's (or month's) menu ahead of time so you know what special ingredients to keep on hand?

I normally do plan a week (upon the arrival of the grocery store weekly deals paper or, when signed up for a farm CSA, the planning would take place when I get the list of that week's produce box.) of meals. I have never planned a whole month. That would be hard for me, I think...
This is, for sure, my favorite modus operandi. You can plan based on sales, the season & what you have in the house that needs to be used. If you plan well, you don't have to go to the store more than once or twice a week. And, above all these things, you have the comfort of a plan. I like to know what is ahead! But, alas - you cannot always plan ahead. Sometimes I do do number #2...



2. or do you simply decide menus day by day, depending on what you find already on hand?

I have done this during times when I was not putting so much time into the cooking part of homemaking. I hadn't put the time in to plan, therefore, I had to think on my feet. Or, things just happen, & I didn't get to the store, etc... It is a new thing for me. A challenge, to be sure. This is a marvelous skill. And, I want to continue to learn it. I used to fear improvisation. I only used recipes. I wouldn't even ever want to substitute an ingredient. I have literally cried about not forgetting a particular ingredient for dinner. (This was when I was brand new at all this & extremely inflexible. Scott was suggesting that I fix something else for dinner, assuming that would be simple enough. I was having a total breakdown....)
Now, my hand has been forced. A woman cannot just cry every time things don't go according to plan. She needs to improvise. And, you know, it feels good. It is good to be creative & independent.



3. or do you end up running to the store for a handful of things on a frequent basis when you find recipes with cool ingredients?

This was my style when I lived at home with my parents & cooked a couple times a week. I thought it was a marvelous way to do things, although my mom would always tell me otherwise. Once I had to cook everyday, & be the one to pay for the groceries, somehow, her points were all so clear. This method tends to waste a lot of time & money. I guess this is an example of why we should heed wise counsel & instruction, even if we don't understand it...

11 comments:

Melissa said...

Aha! This is a new one for me: I inspired a post. :) Hehe.
Thanks for your input!
#2 is how I function at this point, with little bits of #1 thrown in. I only grocery shop once a week for fresh things, and once a month at Costco (for meat and other sundry things). That, of course, is for our very small family. That schedule may change and adapt as the family grows. :)
But anyway... I appreciate your input. Hope others comment too!
My mother-in-law plans a month at a time, which I admire but can't imagine doing myself. :)
I'm looking forward to continue to glean from others' experiences. So post away! :)

laura said...

This is a great post Erin! I used to think it was so delightfully European to shop for groceries one day at a time (or at least veggies and stuff). Like you, my hand has been forced into menu-planning. It's probably as close as I get to real discipline in my housekeeping. Because we only eat certain foods and we're on a tight budget, I have a list of about 15-20 dishes that I know we love and those are what I make (in random order) throughout the month. They're planned out so I can always buy the exact same things from the store and have what I need on hand. We shop every week or other week for produce and pantry items at our local crunchy natural foods co-op and buy organic chickens about once a month from Whole Foods or Andronico's (whoever has a sale). At this point, I've managed to figure out a way to make 4 meals out of a whole chicken. I think that is going to change soon since Jenna's starting to eat more and more. We might have to change our plans a bit to accommodate her growing appetite. :-)
Thanks for the input!

Krista said...

I also shop about once a week. I do very rough meal planning- meaning sometimes I just buy the meat and didn't plan on what to season it with. If that happens, its usually because I have a good stock of marinades on hand or I know I have lots of stuff in the fridge to mix up to create a good one. Also, I use epicurious alot. Say I know I want to use shrimp, and I have a plethora of oranges on hand, then I just search for orange shrimp. I haven't yet searched for something that they didn't have a recipe for! Alot of times I don't have all the ingredients, but it is making me a better cook to substitute things and still make something yummy. Most of the epicurious recipes I have never followed exactly since I usually don't plan enough ahead. So... to sum up. :) I shop once a week, buy general foods with lots of produce and special sale items and then plan specifically day to day. I actually am enjoying cooking with what I have and not worrying about buying the EXACT ingredients for a particular recipe.

Erin said...

Thanks for weighing in, ladies. Melissa - do you have access to Stef Arnold's blog? She posted on this there, too.

Erin said...

Oh. Laura - I always thought "so European" too. How funny!

Melissa Cummings said...

no, I can't read Stef's take on this stuff, unless she puts it on jastef instead. :)

Stef said...

this totally freaked me out... who is Melissa? My website is blocked to friends I know and I'm not sure I know who she is. :) If I do know you, send me an email and I'll add you!

Melissa Cummings said...

Haha... this is why blogs and the internet are so freaky... people you never knew you knew sneak up from all over the place. :)
Stefanie, you don't have to add me. No worries.
If I could figure out how to link properly, you'd be able to click on my name and see if I look like Dr. Bennett's little girl from Valley so many years ago. :)
By the way: I should look like her... just 15 years older or something like that. lol.

Stef said...

OK, now I totally remember someone telling me that was Melissa Bennett and just forgot. :)
I'll add you! I don't mind at all. I just like to know who's looking at it.
My email address is edarka@gmail.com if you want to send me yours.

Stef said...

this totally freaked me out... who is Melissa? My website is blocked to friends I know and I'm not sure I know who she is. :) If I do know you, send me an email and I'll add you!

Melissa Cummings said...

Haha... this is why blogs and the internet are so freaky... people you never knew you knew sneak up from all over the place. :)
Stefanie, you don't have to add me. No worries.
If I could figure out how to link properly, you'd be able to click on my name and see if I look like Dr. Bennett's little girl from Valley so many years ago. :)
By the way: I should look like her... just 15 years older or something like that. lol.