Meal planning

(61 Posts)

I just can't manage to do it. I find it so stressful & time consuming. I want to be able to, that's all. I normally just buy stuff in and muddle through the week.

That was fine until I had DC3. I don't have the time now to choose every day what we have & we have a tighter budget. Plus I'm following Slimming world at the moment. I'm weaning DD too, so that needs to be planned for.

How do you all do it?

AndHarry Tue 29-Oct-13 13:10:56

I write my days out and only plan for evening meals and weekend lunches. We have firm favourites that I write down first (chicken korma on a Saturday night, fish on a Monday, soup for Saturday lunch etc.), which only gives me a couple of gaps to fill. I find that much easier than having to decide everything in advance.

UriGHOULer Tue 29-Oct-13 13:31:39

I'd love to know how people do it. I've tried it but it never seems to work out.

DP rolls his eyes at "its Thursday so its fish pie" sort of thing.
And then the toddler eats the ham that was for the carbonara and hates pasta or we're out in the morning so we're hungry and have a big cooked lunch so that means no one wants a "proper tea".

It doesn't seem to work out much cheaper (in our house) anyway.

FeisMom Tue 29-Oct-13 13:38:51

I write down the days of the week, and work out which days the DCs have friends coming over / activities / I'm working etc.

We always have a curry on a Saturday so that's that day sorted, Sunday is roast, so that is sorted, I buy a big one so that we can have cold cuts and chips baked potatoes and salad on Monday

So Tues & Thurs, I work and the DCs have after school activities that take up half the bleeding evening, so they are always slow cooker days - so a sausage casserole or spag bol or such like.

That just leaves Wednesday and Friday to sort out.

I get the DCs to write down their fave meals and then incorporate them so there is no "Ugh I don't like that", I also read someone suggesting to do a 8 or 9 day plan so you don't end up with one day being a spag bol day.

So set days for set meals?

UriGHOULer I think you are me. This is my problem. What do you do then?

I plan the meals I want for the week, plus two. I do set days, but the are flexible and I always have the two fallback plans if I don't fancy what is planned or am too lazy (the extra meals are always easy types). I also try to have a few options for a meal where I use the same ingredients but have different meals so I can have either a chicken stir fry or chicken fajitas with the same ingredients (bar wraps which I always have in anyway) .I try to plan so that I can make the most of my shop- so to avoid using one carrot out of a bag etc.

I get DC and dh to check the suggestions and veto or suggest their favourites.

A plan would look like this

Monday- a gammon in coke with new potato and green beans (eat half the gammon, leave half)
Tuesday- smoked salmon and peas in a creamy sauce on pasta
Wednesday- split pea soup with chunks of the gammon and a poached egg. With chunky buttery bread / potato cakes with ham chunks and cheese in topped with an egg on a salad.
Thursday- sausage and mixed bean casserole, with any veg available / toad in the hole with roasted carrots, parsnips and potatoes.
Friday- gardeners pie, topped with cheesy mash or veg soup if we didn't have the soup earlier
Saturday- baked fish with soy, chilli and ginger on egg noodle stir fry (with carrots, a pepper, and any green stuff- broccoli or peas)
Sunday- lamb shanks in red wine with mixed vegetable and cheese mash.

Extra meals- pasta pesto, egg fried rice, veggie Bolognese.

My shopping list on Sunday would be-
Meat-

Sausages (date after Wednesday)
Lamb shanks (this is always whatever meat is going off and in sale)
Smoked salmon
Gammon (usually have very long dates)

Fresh veg-

A bag of potatoes
Carrots
Parsnips
green beans
Onions
Ginger
Garlic
Any discount veg which can find a place in my meals- greens, peppers, red onions, Swede etc.

Frozen-

Peas
broccoli
Sweetcorn

Dried-

Pasta
Rice
Split peas
Pesto
Tin of mixed beans
Tin of tomatoes

Dairy-
Eggs (not dairy but you know)
Cheese
Cream
if I didn't have it in I would also need soy, flour, etc. but I'm presuming it's there.

The meals we don't have get pushed back to next week and the ingredients unused are included in next plan.

I usually do it on a Saturday morning, which leaves Sat or Sunday to get the ingredients. It will be based around who's in or out, whether it needs to be somehting quick, whether I'm on a fasting day, etc.

So it'll typically be:

Sunday - DH will cook. He's on a Tom Kerridge kick at the minute, and he'll follow the recipe to the letter. But it's a relaxed day, we've nowhere to rush off to, so we have the time to do something more complicated.

Monday - usually a down day for me, so he'll have a steak with some pasta/ sauce

Tuesday - step son stays. Scrambled eggs on toast, sausages, egg and chips.

Wednesday - I'm in this evening so I'll cook something, maybe a Jamie 15 minute meal

Thursday - everyone else is out, I'm the only one who likes fish so I'll probbaly have salmon and broccoli.

Friday - no rushing about, might do a chicken stir-fry, or a steak.

Key points are:

Only plan for 6 days of the week, as there'll always be a change of plans.
Watch your fresh veg, use them quickly.
Have eggs and pasta on standby
Batch cook soups and stews and keep them in the freezer.

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 29-Oct-13 21:00:39

We are pretty much like andHarry.

I only plan the evening meals, the DC usually have school dinners and DH eats at work.

Each DC usually gets one choice a week. Dd wanted pizza and chips this week and we had one of their friends over for tea so that worked well tonight.

Although I do plan and buy for 7 meals, I'm not very precious about which night I cook and eat them. If things change, so does the plan and sometimes I end up freezing things, which can work out well. I recently had a week when I hardly had to buy anything as I'd frozen so much stuff when plans had changed.

I recently got this book from the works and I quite like it although I'm not sure I would have liked it so much if I'd paid the amazon price hmm

It gives suggested meal plans, easy store cupboard meals and recipes for when the DC gave friends over.

Everything I've cooked from it so far has gone down well smile

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 29-Oct-13 21:07:31

Forgot to say what my meal plan is for this week, so here goes...

Healthy fish and chips (Aggies)
Roast dinner with Ham
Carbonara (with leftover ham)
Fajitas (DS choice)
Sweet and sour chicken
Pizza and chips (DDs choice)
veg curry (Aggies)
Jambalaya (from DS cookbook so he will probably help)

Its 8 meals as that's how long I've got between shopping trips.

DeathMetalMum Tue 29-Oct-13 21:19:07

I find it less time consuming if we plan for a month ish in advance. We don't do saturday is fish night or anything, we just go through and make sure there is variety so not having one meat too many times or pasta/rice too much. Then I just write my shopping list out from the meals. We use a diary so we can write in events alongside so know not to plan for that night or know we need something quick and easy to cook. We don't stick to it by law but it certainly makes life easier than thinking what to have at around 3oclock each day .

We also have a list of meals written down so can check if we are finding it difficult and put something in. We can always do something like pasta if plans change or shift things to different nights.

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 29-Oct-13 21:28:54

Does this help grin

Toowittoowoo Thu 31-Oct-13 08:50:03

I have several lists of meals that we like and can cook e.g. quick family meals, weekend family meals, super quick kids tea, grown up food etc. and I then sit down with the calendar on a Thursday evening and work out which type of meal we need to eat.

On a Tuesday and Wednesday for example DH works late and DD eats at nursery so we only need quick adult meals. I like all the food on my list so I really don't care which meal I choose - it is a bit of a lucky dip really. Thursday and Friday for example DH is back by 5.30pm so we can all eat together but it needs to be quick so I just randomly pick a meal for that list.

I'd love a phone app that would do the lucky dip for me! I'd just programme in the meals, click on grown up food, for example, and then shake the phone until it came up with a meal. As most recipes can be found on the Internet nowadays I'm sure it could find the recipe and write my shopping list too.....that would be good!

mrspremise Thu 31-Oct-13 10:18:53

on android (don't know about the i-phone), there is a really great free app called food planner that TBH I would not be without, it keeps a record of everything youve programmed in before and that means it gets easier to use all the time, it'll tell you how long ago you last had things and how often you have them. You can even use it to keep your recipes in and make shopping lists, but I just use the meal planning features smile

jennimoo Sat 02-Nov-13 04:49:07

I've just downloaded food planner on iPhone but have a feeling it's a different app as I can't see how you'd plan... Anyone have a recommendation for an iPhone one?

Thank you for all replies. This has helped a lot. Am going to download that app.

I need a solid plan really.

Clutterbugsmum Fri 08-Nov-13 09:43:24

I have a simple spreadsheet, mainly so we don't eat the same thing week in week out. I can look back and either see what we have had or what we haven't had for a while.

I don't plan for every day. I don't cook 'proper meals' on a Friday the kids, choose pizza's, burger/fish fingers and chips.

I always leave at least one day where we eat what's needs eating in the fridge.

So I really only plan for 5 days.

Clutterbugsmum Spread sheet sounds good. Any particular way you do this?

Clutterbugsmum Fri 08-Nov-13 14:44:42

I have one per month.

Then I list down each week (starting the Saturday after payday) as I go shopping on a Saturday, so it goes

Date - Day of the Week - Dinner.

I then print it out and put in on the fridge so every one knows what we eating.

sashh Fri 08-Nov-13 16:11:49

I have a template on word with the days of the week and put the evening meals in. I go through stages of just putting favorites down and stages of looking at cookbooks.

If I'm using a recipe from a cookbook I put the name and page number next to the meal.

Underneath my day to day plan is a table to add things to buy so this week I had fish risotto and needed to buy smoked fish so it went on the list, I used half and froze half, so if I put it on next week's plan it will say 'use fish from freezer',

If there is a change of plan (went for a carvery today) I will either make the meal and freeze it or freeze the ingredients that can be frozen.

I try to have one or two meals from the freezer - it might just say 'something from the freezer'. If you have a meal or two that are either already in the freezer made or something like pasta made with store cupboard ingredients these are not wasted if you don't eat them.

magimedi Fri 08-Nov-13 17:02:07

When Dc were younger & I was far more pushed for time (old & retired now) I had an 11 day meal plan that I did not tell the family about. I just kept it revolving for a few months and no one ever knew as it was never a case of Tuesday = cottage pie.

magimedi grin

So I am going to sit and plan later. Using a mix of ideas on here

Clutterbugsmum Fri 08-Nov-13 18:28:19

Me too.

I'm doing a bit of what in the freezer (need to clear for christmas) and new ideas.

I will be using a mixture of regurlar recipes and new ones. So I have my box of recipes I've pulled out of various cooking magazines and cook books.

That's a clever idea Clutterbugsmum I'm always cooking out of my recipe books. I do wonder whether I'm the only one though. My book collect consists mostly of the chef who is very unpopular on here. I adore his food.

FFS. I always post before I mean to. Meant to say that it is part of the problem. Not planning and having to get ingredients most days for said recipes.

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