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Meal Planning Resources

Last post Wed, Jun 13 2012 3:11 PM by cattledog. 8 replies.
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  • Tue, Jun 12 2012 10:24 PM

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Meal Planning Resources

    Do you use recipe, sites, cookbooks, meal planning sites or other resources to help you get ideas for planning menus?

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager

  • Tue, Jun 12 2012 10:37 PM In reply to

    Re: Meal Planning Resources

    Brandy, I guess it's because I'm so old and have been cooking for so long that most of my meal plans originate in my mind first.

     However, I do use the internet and some old, favorite cook books to check recipes. I've got a beat up copy of Betty Crocker's 40th Anniversary Edition Cook Book that I refer to often for basic information.

    I like Allrecipes to compare recipes and read reviews. I found my favorite whole wheat bread recipe on Allrecipes.


    "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Ps. 139:14
  • Tue, Jun 12 2012 10:49 PM In reply to

    Re: Meal Planning Resources

    If I have gone out and had a meal at a restaurant that I liked I will look on the internet for a basic recipe. I usually don't follow a recipe exactly. I tweek them to our tastes. I have been cooking for quite a few years so I am pretty good about throwing things together by taste.
  • Tue, Jun 12 2012 11:52 PM In reply to

    Re: Meal Planning Resources

    I use anything and everything possible to get creative ideas and then let mild go to wild in creativity over here. Cooking and good food is a real passion over here so I am open to all sorts of things I can use as tools to help menu plan. I am also very BIG on visuals. I can study a food photo and disect it like a science project lol ... Don't get me started on palette - that is one mamma jamma and so fun to work with. To test and recreate without knowing a recipe is very fun! Use those 5 senses and gut instinct well!!!

    My menu planning is for dinner, where I go all out, and is primarily based on what fresh fruits and vegetables I have on hand that I need to use. This house is a well stocked indoor farmer's market so I really am never high and dry for idea options because I am so well stocked. Anything else needed for a meal is either on hand or I may run out to pick up something for a special dish if I don't have all the stuff needed to make it and have menu planned it in for the week. Fresh produce items are my staples - it's like basic staples to most folks with bread, milk and meat to folks but produce are my basic staples. Inspirations on how to use them in new ways come from the open range I spoke about above... websites, books, photos, using my palette/senses... seeing new and hearing about foods, recreating, you name it. I browse a lot of menus online and photos. I also do a lot of wild random keyword searches for items I have and want new ideas of how to use. Learning about all aroudn the world cultures really inspires me too. I have been gradually learning about various cultures and their cuisines and trying to mimic dishes at home.

    "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." ~Chinese Proverb~
  • Wed, Jun 13 2012 10:44 AM In reply to

    Re: Meal Planning Resources

    Inspirations on how to use them in new ways come from the open range I spoke about above... websites

    BB, can you share some of the websites you use? How many people are you feeding each day?  It's just me here but I like to make extra and freeze it for my work lunches.

    Susan in MI

    It's all about Love!
  • Wed, Jun 13 2012 10:57 AM In reply to

    • Peanut
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Feb 17 2011
    • Suburbs of Boston, MA
    • Posts 141

    Re: Meal Planning Resources

     Sort of all of the above?  First, I check the long-term weather forecast online.  (No, really.  It's the very first thing I do.)  Depending on the 10-day forecast, I scribble a framework on paper - really hot days get the cooler/easy prep dishes.  Cold days get more hearty fare.  Rainy days get the comfort-type dishes.  Then I look at who's likely to be around, whether any holidays/family celebrations/events are scheduled.  I look at the freezer/pantry for base items & fill in the framework based on how I feel - a particular meat one day, a new technique the next, meat-free or fasting the next.  I have an idea of the sales in the stores, as well as what's coming in season at the farms, so I fill in side dishes or more elaborate main courses around that.  Then I'll browse the internet for ideas for, say, ground beef or whatever...if nothing sounds really interesting, I'll go with "tried & true".  Often I'll zip around to threads about dinner ideas, or other folks' published meal plans, for ideas.  (And thank you to everyone who posts these!  I know it takes commitment to keep up with it so the rubberneckers like me can follow along!!)  A few years ago I tried subscriptions at a few different meal planning sites (now & then a good Groupon will appear for those, or coupon codes like Dave Ramsey's), and I have those menu/grocery lists on a thumb drive for reference, too.

    For me, there are 2 really sucky parts about detailed meal plans, as essential as I think they are:  a) schedules ALWAYS change, so I'm always moving the meals around...which is just a drag, and b) sitting my butt down to finalize a plan, knowing that it's going to change (see previous).

    I'm a big believer in The Plan, though, even if I have to make myself do it at gunpoint.  It really does save money, and it makes kitchen/meal prep time more straightforward.  I hate the "stand in front of the pantry shelves, staring blankly" moments even more than I hate sitting my butt in the Meal Planning Thinking Chair.  I even bought one of those "Martha Stewart" removable weekly stickers for the fridge - Staples carries them in their "Martha Stewart" display.  It's a removable/restickable white-board for one week at a time.  I put magnets on the caps of dry erase markers so they'll hang beside the sticker.  And I stuck the sucker right at the level of the (upper) freezer door handle so people *have* to see it.  No more "MOM, what's for dinner?!"  I also bought a couple of the square dry-erase plain white stickers to go over it, where I keep a couple lists for people - one is a list of quick/snack items available & where to find them (eg "Pizza crusts - chest freezer" and "Cookies - basket"), a shopping list (no excuse not to write what you just used the last of...a pet peeve!), a checklist for whoever is feeding the dog so he's not double fed (and he'll convince you he's starving if he thinks you'll fall for it!), and a list of what I've got going - yogurt chilling for cream cheese, things thawing, leftovers, etc.  It really helps me keep track of what's going on, foodwise.

     I have a reference list of meal planning sites somewhere - I'll try to dig that out this weekend in case anyone wants it.  I found a lot of useful (free) info.

     I do subscribe to a few magazines - got the subscriptions a few years ago on some "renew for $2/yr" type specials.  I keep them around, and when I'm really bored (that 15 minutes once a month...) I'll browse them for ideas.  I love them, I just don't have time to really delve.  If it's not quick, straightforward & easy, these days I'm not interested.  When the preschooler is a little older, I'm sure I'll enjoy them then!

    Babbling regularly at PeanutsAlmanac.Blogspot.com
  • Wed, Jun 13 2012 1:48 PM In reply to

    Re: Meal Planning Resources

    I buy cookbooks from thrifts stores. I have a nice collection now. I am VERY choosy about what I buy, especially since I already have a nice collection.

    I google the name of something I want to make such as "oatmeal cookies recipe" and look for a few trusted websites like About.com, AllRecipes.com, Food.com. Sometimes I google ingredients like "chicken rice recipe". I print out the recipes I like and put them in page protectors. I then file them by category  in 3 ring binders. I keep one small binder that I use for frequently used recipes. It's more convenient. I cull out undesirable recipes from time to time.  

    I jot down prospective dinner recipes a week at a time, but I keep a detailed menu about 3 days in advance. It only takes a few minutes to do. Planning ahead is one of my favorite frugal tips. It reduces waste.

  • Wed, Jun 13 2012 2:11 PM In reply to

    Re: Meal Planning Resources

    Addicted to Allrecipes have been a member for years love the BUZZ allows me to chat and get other recipe ideas as well. I will also surf the web blogs using google to type in a recipe or food example (slow cooker oatmeal) it will allow me recipes blogs to surf their ideas :O)

    Plus using a tight budget plan gets creative as well $50 a week including Lunch out on Monday!!!! Use what we have on hand First then shop for the extras so I really have to think outside the box and shop smart example I can get produce at the dollar store but not all my food so do I go to 2 stores or just one? is the price better to do 2 example I just need 2 potatoes for me (for wontons) it cost me $1.60 at FRY's but I could have got a 5 pound bag at the DOLLAR store for $1.00 but I didn't want leftovers!! plus that would be the only thing I bought their this week wa was the drive worth the 60 cents I would save??

    I cook Mon/Tue/Wed for dd when she is home we don't do breakfast just lunch/dinner/dessert so I will cook meals she will eat on the days she is home. SO my meal planning gets creatively wild since we do it on Monday I am trying to plan it Sunday when I am at work. Plus using a tight budget plan gets creative as well $50 a week including Lunch out on Monday!!!! Use what we have on hand First then shop for the extras so I really have to think well

    Monday- Lunch out ( Since I get off work at 4 am and sleep until 10 am then pick her up from grandma's house (she had sugery in april and is in wheelchair)

    Monday-DINNER ONLY(example could Taco baked Wontons for her (used half pound of meat only and Potato/Sour cream/Cheese for me with leftovers)

    Tuesday Lunch will be sandwiches since she is working I had burger from the freezer

    TUEseday Dinner ONLY was Enchiladas (other half pound of meat)

    WEDnesday LUNCH ONLY FOR  Her and me will be Mon's dinner leftovers 

    WEDnesday Dinner usually for me is Tuesday Leftovers

    Thursday and Friday I work from NOON to 8 pm 

    Breakfast- Instant breakfast drink mix in to a Smoothiew/ yogurt/milk/berries

    Lunch- Sandwiches now from home ( was buying pizza for $5.00 w/ drink)

    Dinner 9 pm-Instant breakfast drink mix in to a Smoothie w/ yogurt/milk/berries

    Saturday and Sunday  I work from 4 pm to 4 am- Lunch at home and same dinner for these 2 days since I work 12 hours plus Instant breakfast drink mix in to a Smoothie w/ yogurt/milk/berries


    Cell Phone Holders 4 Hospice 2014 YTD 18
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    Shawls 4 Hospice 2012 YTD 21

  • Wed, Jun 13 2012 3:11 PM In reply to

    Re: Meal Planning Resources

    Peanut, that's funny- I check the long-range forecast for my meal planning too.  We've had a cool snap this week and I'm doing a lot of bulk cooking.  As far as resources go, I usually just cook from my head or if I'm stumped, I'll look through some cookbooks or just do a quick internet search of ingredients and see what pops up.  My family likes meat, so I start with that as an ingredient and go from there.  Tonight it's meatloaf.  I am making three other loaves for the freezer though.  If it never cools down this summer, we can use them for cold sandwiches.

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