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January 2012 - Posts - Dollar Stretcher Guest Blogger
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January 2012 - Posts

  • Meal Planning Made A Little Less Difficult

    by Lampie

    Let me start out by saying that I used to HATE planning the meals for the week. I'd just end up BSing my way through, usually having about half of what I needed to make anything (and ending up opening a can of something and throwing it on the stove at the last minute).

    Now, however, I've found a trick that works for me. I have a general idea of what is in my freezer and cupboards at all times. (I'd love a list, but I never update when I add/remove things, so it just wouldn't work.) Every week, whenever I think of something I'd like to eat, I write it down. I'm not talking about recipes. Instead, I'm talking "hmmm, I'd like something with bacon in it" or "I want something Mexican."

    By the end of the week, the list has three or four ingredients/themes/flavours listed on it. On Saturday, I poke my nose in the fridge and see what I have on hand that should be used up, usually adding two or three things to the list.

    I take a mental inventory of what I have in the freezer (I stock up when I find meat on sale or half off because it's going to expire soon) and throw four or five more ingredients on the list, so I have about ten things on my list.

    Then I go through my cookbook program (Living Cookbook, best $30 I ever spent!) and browse through each ingredient, looking for something that sounds good and that I have most of the ingredients for (the same thing can be accomplished by going to a recipe site and doing an ingredient search, no need to buy fancy software).

    I pick a recipe, cross the ingredient(s) that it uses off the list, and continue until I have five meals planned out. (I don't cook on weekends. There's usually enough leftovers, or I throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and call it soup.)

    I go through the recipes I picked out and write down all the ingredients that I don't have. A quick trip to the store and I've got everything ready for the week ahead.

    As a quick note, I cook five dinners a week. Breakfast is usually a fend-for-yourself affair, although sometimes I'll make muffins, pancakes or waffles, and lunch is leftovers or whatever's on hand. It's just my fiance and me, so we can both find our own food if I'm lazy. But my meal planning method should work no matter how many meals you have to make during the week.

    I've been using this method for the last month, and I find it works really well for meal planning. Hopefully it'll help someone else.

    Lampie is a stay-at-home housewife and freelance artist who keeps a blog on how she manages to keep her household running on $1500 a month at afrugallife.tumblr.com/

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