Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Meal Planning

I don't know about you, but meal planning is so hard for me. I've tried lots of different strategies- some work, some don't. I thought I'd share some of my approaches with you!

I would rather try a new recipe that make an old standby any day. I just get really tired of the same old meat and potatoes. Luckily, Pinterest provides a plethora of inventive dinners just waiting to be tried out! How do I filter them all? It goes something like this:

"Take four chicken breasts and pound to a 1/4 inch thick..."

Fresh Rosemary...

"In your double broiler..."

I usually look for meals that are five ingredients or less, 15 minutes prep time, and less than an hour from idea to conception. I don't do the "plan ahead" thing very well these days, so running to the grocery store or roasting a whole chicken for several hours are out of the question.

The thing I don't like about Pinterest is there's often little feedback on whether the recipe was good or not. AllRecipes is an app and website that I LOVE for this very reason. It's worth looking at the user reviews because often they have comments that really improve the recipe.

I've tried sorting my Pinterest boards into categories that help me find meals faster. One of the approaches we've tried in our house is the "Sheldon Plan." This was inspired by our favorite show, The Big Bang Theory. If you're not familiar with it, the main character is autistic and has to have the same meal for each day of the week; Thai food on Mondays, Cheesecake Factory on Tuesdays, etc. So in our house it's Italian on Mondays, comfort food on Tuesdays, freezer meal on Wednesdays (I have faculty meetings and usually get home late, so the hubby can throw one in the oven), "Exotic" foods (Mexican, Chinese, Indian, etc. To my husband, that's exotic.) on Thursdays, leftovers on Fridays, and pizza on Saturdays. I can just click on one of those boards and find something to try.

Lately I haven't done much grocery shopping, so we're pretty limited to what's in the house. I started boards based on a main ingredient, so if I have a pound of chicken, I click on the "I have chicken" board and see what I can make. That's working well too.

I'm also trying to stockpile the freezer for after the baby comes. I did that last time (all in one week) and we ate them throughout the summer. Ironically, I ran out of freezer meals the week I went back to work. Yeah, life's funny like that.

And finally, I've paid for a subscription to emeals, which is really nice if you want to take all the decision making out of the process AND want to save money without having to coupon. I've gone through spurts of utilizing it well and ignoring it completely. It really is a nicely done site!

So those are all the good ideas I have. Seriously, if I were independently wealthy, I think the first thing I'd do is hire a chef.

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