Every week my husband and I sit down to do meal plans, and just about every week, I want to tear my hair out. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bradley, but were it up to him, he would eat the same five meals over and over and over.
I am the exact opposite. For me, cooking and eating is an adventure. I love to experiment with recipes, to try foods I’ve never tried before, and to cook things in new ways. Brad has made many efforts to improve his eating habits over the years, and has done a pretty good job. He now eats eggs in multiple forms, beef, some fish, and if I can work it into a pizza, he’s all good to give it a try. It sounds small, but these are all huge strides from where we were when we first started dating. However, incorporating new recipes and foods is still a struggle, particularly when he feels overwhelmed by options. For him variety is stressful, not enjoyable.
Recently we have come up with a way to get over some of this food frustration through a new method of meal planning and so far it seems to be working. We eat together 5 nights a week, since Brad works late on Tuesdays and Thursday. The rest of the week we follow this schedule:
Monday: Eggs or Bacon night. We can cook just about anything, but eggs or bacon must be a key component.
Wednesday: Grain Night. This can be as simple as a box of pasta and canned sauce, or as complex as a made from scratch risotto. On tonight’s menu is fried quinoa and fish.
Friday: New Ingredient or Cooking Technique Night. This week we ended up with peaches out the wazoo from my grandparent’s trip to a local orchard, and we need to do something with those. So anyone with a new way of prepping peaches, we are open to suggestions.
Saturday: Spin for it Night. That sounds a little confusing, so let me explain. My friend and coworker, Fez turned me on to this idea. There’s a website called wheeldecide.com, were you can enter in categories or choices and then spin the wheel to decide. So we picked a few cooking techniques, some colors, a kitchen appliance or two and some themes and entered those in.
Sunday: Family Dinner or Use It Up. Most Sundays we eat with my parents, and I try to make or buy some sort of dessert to go with it. (Usually make, but last week the cakes at Fresh Market tricked me with their Siren Song.) If we don’t eat with them, we try to use up something we already have in the fridge.
This keeps us sane, helps us to stay on budget, and makes busy nights a lot less hectic. It also keeps me in line with my diet. Here are some other tips and trick we use to meal plan and keep our food expenses, including expenses of time and resources, easier:
- · Go to the store less and take a list. I know we’ve all heard it before, but the more often you’re in a store and the less you plan, the more money you spend.
- · Mini loaf pans and other microwave and ovenproof containers are my best friend. It makes it easy to freeze leftovers so I can take them for lunch or eat them on a night alone at a later date.
- · Know what you have. There’s a handy little app called Out of Milk that helps you to keep track of your grocery list and your pantry inventory on your Smart Phone.
- · If you’re going to splurge, do it on items that are on Manager’s Special. You can score awesome deals on everything from steak to strawberries if you shop these deals. And if you have the space to stock up, do it then.
Do you have any tips for meal planning or saving on groceries? We’d love to hear it.