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Old 02-06-2014, 11:24 AM   #1
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Menu Planning?

How do you plan your meals? Do you write it out? Use a spreadsheet? Is there any good software that helps?

I'm beginning to realize that I know nothing about this subject. I'm pretty good at cooking without a recipe and adapting to what's on hand, but lack of any planning is a serious handicap. I buy the same things over and over, so I make rice and beans twenty ways to Sunday, but it's time to expand my horizons. I want to plan for the next few days or a week and then shop accordingly.

Any suggestions?

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Old 02-06-2014, 11:56 AM   #2
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I look at DH and say "What do you want for dinner?" LOL If we can't decide on anything, we eat out.

Actually, when my kids were still here, they were constantly asking what we were having, so I started planning the menu a week in advance. My planning was based on what I could afford and what everyone would eat. I posted the menu inside the cupboard door each week so they could just look and see what we were having. I let each of them (2) choose 1 meal each week, and then I shopped according to what was in the meal plan. Nothing fancy. It was just what worked.
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Old 02-06-2014, 12:20 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skilletlicker View Post
How do you plan your meals? Do you write it out? Use a spreadsheet? Is there any good software that helps?
I find that when I plan my meals my grocery bill goes down. Duh!

I did it on paper before the Internet and apps came into being.
I still do it on paper. By the time I booted up the computer, opened the spreadsheet etc I could have it all done using a paper and pencil!

This is becoming an over-quantified world and over-apped world, if there is such a world as 'apped'!
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Old 02-06-2014, 01:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cave76 View Post
I find that when I plan my meals my grocery bill goes down. Duh!
I expect to save money and eat better. As it is I sort of have to buy for whatever I might decide to do later resulting in wasted money and food.
Quote:
I did it on paper before the Internet and apps came into being.
I still do it on paper. By the time I booted up the computer, opened the spreadsheet etc I could have it all done using a paper and pencil!

This is becoming an over-quantified world and over-apped world, if there is such a world as 'apped'!
Yeah, doing something on the computer might waste time but the trick is to look at what you actually do on paper first. I assume you:
  1. List what you want to cook.
  2. List ingredients.
  3. Cross off what's already on hand.
What's left is the shopping list.
Keyboard or pencil - either way it's okay.
I know that there is software out there but I'm thinking of just using GoogleTask and Calendar. Or maybe just paper.

If there was software that integrated the cuisines, recipes, nutritional values, grocery store sales, coupons and printed the shopping list corresponding to the isles in my favorite grocery store... well that would be neat.
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Old 02-06-2014, 01:32 PM   #5
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Google Task (on it's Calendar) is good.

"If there was software that integrated the cuisines, recipes, nutritional values, grocery store sales, coupons and printed the shopping list corresponding to the isles in my favorite grocery store... well that would be neat."

LOL Wouldn't that be loverly.
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Old 02-06-2014, 01:37 PM   #6
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I don't plan. I cook with what is in the fridge, pantry, root cellar, and freezer. When I shop, I pick up stuff on special and work with that. Having said that, I always have dried beans, rice, onions, garlic, celery, various stocks, rice noodles, dried mushrooms, lemons and limes on hand. I think I have every spice and herb known to man and tons of different vinegars.
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Old 02-06-2014, 02:17 PM   #7
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We plan meals for a seven day period. The menu is based primarily on what we have in the freezer/deep freezer. We make a grocery list for the additional (vegis, sundries, etc.) items we need to fix what we planned. Shopping may require going to Penn Dutch, Costco, Asian Market and/or Publix. Any meals we "skip", for whatever reason, are forwarded to the next week.
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Old 02-06-2014, 04:24 PM   #8
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I rough out a week's worth of menus on a whiteboard in the kitchen. A week, for me, is five meals. I leave two open nights for either going out or a "get yer own dinner" night where we just scrounge through the fridge rather than have a planned meal.

For the planned meals, I first check the ads to see what's on sale and then try to work around that. I also try to plan for things to do with the leftovers. So, for example, if I'm making ham one night, I know there will be leftovers, so I'll plan a meal later in the week where I can use them up.
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Old 02-06-2014, 05:00 PM   #9
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I buy extra when things are on sale. I freeze the meat in meal-size pkges. Right now I have a lot of chicken pieces and enough ground beef and pork chops for a couple meals. I usually only buy one roast when they are on sale and cook it right away without freezing it. All other items, frozen veggies, canned goods, soups, rice, noodles, beans pasta are bought when they are on sale and replenished when they get low AND are on sale the next time. There are things I grab just about every time I'm in a store, like canned diced tomatoes and tomato sauce because I use them regularly. Yesterday I was making tacos and DH had to go to the store for shredded Mexican cheese. I usually only buy cheese when I'm going to use it. Now there's a little left and it will get sprinkled on salads.
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Old 02-06-2014, 05:43 PM   #10
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I take an old envelope and keep a running grocery list of things I need to restock or that I just have a desire for. Then I jot down the main meat/protein things that I have on hand, next I look at the weekly grocery flyers to see what is on sale around town and finally I look at the few coupons I clip to see if I can use an item or two.

I jot down seven possible meals using the items on my list including some nights of planned leftovers, gradually a loose menu comes together. Sometimes as the week unfolds the ingredients I have planned for a meal morph into another meal or the planned meal moves to another night etc...

Even when I have the list in hand things may change when I hit the grocery store. If I see a really good deal the plan can change on the fly to accommodate them. If the bargain items I find don't fit into the weeks plan then one nights dinner may end up being scrambled eggs, Dreamfield's pasta with oil and garlic or some other quick and easy meal that can be made using staple items. Scrimping a little to make room for these unplanned bargains can save a substantial amount of money in the long run.

I find a simple plan helps to control cost, reduce waste, and help me to eat a healthier diet, even if I don't follow the plan!
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