Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Meal Planning, Cont.

I posted a quick blurb on R.O.U.S. that I was trying to plan out meals in advance for several reasons:
  1. I spend way too high a percentage of my money on fast/convenience foods.
  2. We eat way too much quick, easy, highly processed/preserved meals.
  3. I want to incorporate more fresh/locally grown foods into our diets.
  4. I'm sick of trying to decide at the last minute what the heck I'm going to fix for dinner.
  5. I'm trying to save money at the grocery store. If I know exactly what I need for the month, I (hopefully) will be less likely to have to throw away food that expires before it gets eaten. Also, I'm hoping I'll be less likely to make "impulse" food buys at the store - thus, saving money.
I started with the goal of planning for the month. Well.... I got a little carried away. My meals are all planned through the end of the year. I've incorporated two nights a month having fast food (because, c'mon, gotta have my yummy fries sometimes!), one night a month ordering pizza, and one or two nights a month for leftovers. We won't have them more than that because I generally wind up eating the leftovers for lunch the next day. This schedule also takes into account times when Jamie will be gone on overnight trips and I will be eating either leftovers or microwave meals and our church's weekly Wednesday night dinner right before services start.

There isn't as much repetition in my schedule as I was afraid there'd be. Turns out, I know how to cook lots more than I thought I did. For recipes that we really like, I've scheduled them to repeat about every 25 days. For those that are good, but take a long time to fix, have more expensive ingredients or are not exactly what we ask for on a regular basis, I've scheduled them to repeat every 45 days. I also move things around so the more complicated items are on Friday or Saturday nights when it won't matter so much if we don't eat until 8:30 or 9 p.m. School nights are dedicated to recipes that are simpler and are a snap to fix.

I did this project in the calendar feature on Outlook. I will also be transferring it into iCal on my laptop. This makes it very simple for me to print out a week or a month at a time and put on the fridge. It also makes it easy for me to change out what days we do what, eliminate items we're sick of and substitute others, etc. It also makes it very easy for me to see what is needed for the month so that I know what to buy at the store.

I'll keep you all informed if this plan helps me save any money, and if I can actually stick to it. My first order of business is to go to the farmer's market this Saturday and see what kinds of fresh items are available (and how much they cost).


Suze said...

Good for you!
I love farmers markets. I can't wait for ours to open

Jessi said...

I plan a week at a time. I plan with the sale flier for the grocery store and my coupon pouch, though, so I can't get too far ahead or I'll lose out on my sales. I am sort of in awe.

Unknown said...

I plan a week at a time. I've done three weeks at a time, but I usually go back to one.

I also do plan a three or four week summer rotation to make life easier.

Good for you, you'll have to let us know how it goes!

(Okay, still Tara, not Evan. Going to log him out after this comment!)