Wednesday, October 24, 2012

planning

I've been meal planning for quite some time now. Typically I write five dinner ideas across the top of the grocery list and that's that. I've always gone with five because at least one night is leftovers and another night would  be toast or something similar. It's a system that's worked fairly well, but there's room for improvement. Especially now as I get busier and busier.

On the days that I run, I head out not long after I get home from work. We get in the door any where from fifteen to thirty minutes before the kids get home from school, so they're home before I'm finished my run. By that time it's headed for dinner and I'm trying to shower and hydrate and cook and get the kids going on their stuff. It's not too bad, but on nights where the kids have choir practice or we're hitting up the library it's such a rush.

For the past month I have been meal planning with a twist. I plan out seven dinners for a specific night and I write them on our big fridge calendar. Now Mike and the kids know what's up for dinner on any given night. This is equal parts awesome and the opposite of awesome.

The awesome: Three nights this week Mike looked at the calendar saw what was for dinner and then made it. So awesome to come back from a run and smell dinner cooking away. That's three nights I didn't have to cook dinner! So unheard of prior to this.

The opposite of awesome: The kids know exactly what's on tap for dinner, so they can whine about how they don't want to eat it for days in advance. So far neither of them has noticed that mushroom soup is up tomorrow. As an added bonus.... I'm not exactly sure this has anything to do with posting the weekly menu, but Abby has been game to try all kinds of new foods like Cincinnati Chili (liked) and Tikka Masala (also a like). Oh and another opposite of awesome... Maya is now refusing to eat some of her tried and true favourites. Sigh, maybe one day it will all add up.

Do you meal plan?

2 comments:

I am a sporadic meal planner which is the worse kind. I need to get better at it. I would like to do meal prep on the weekend but I find that hard. I pinned a link to a once a month cooking plan and I would like to try that. I wonder if one weekend sacrificed to cooking would pay off when I can relax for 3 weeks. I don't think I'll have time to try it out till after the holidays but I will try.
I do meal plan, with similar issues. It's absolutely worth it to be because at 4:30 when everyone is whining that they're hungry and I'm already tired from the day, it's way too late to be trying to poke around in the fridge and come up with a creative dinner idea. Using the meal plan means the decision is already made - it also keeps us eating more variety (I have a four week rotation) and I think it saves us a little bit on groceries too as I rarely buy things that don't get eaten.

The drawback, as you point out, is the opportunity for kids to whine days in advance. I tried letting them have a say in the weekly plan but that meant we were eating chicken nuggets twice a week and no one ever tried anything new, so I'm back to just imposing it on them. Someday they'll thank me and it will all have been worth it - I keep telling myself!