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Food / drink 🍗 Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,420
Points
53
I am the one who does all the meal planning and cooking in our house. As such, there are some nights that I feel like cooking and other nights that I don't, but usually do anyways. However, there are occasions that we go out to a pizza place or other similar restaurant and it disrupts the order of the meals that I was going to cook that week. More so, there have been multiple occasions that I have done the big grocery shopping on the weekend for the upcoming meals, but find that some of the more sensitive ingredients are unusable by the end of the week (look at you Mr. Avocado...).

We have tried two of the different meal delivery/planning services (Blue Apron and Hello Fresh) but we would only get a few of the meals from them in fear that the ingredients would not last or that we would end up going out to eat, I would want to cook something simpler that night, or there was a change of plans. There are a few of the recipes that we hung onto, such as an Asian taco recipe that we had for last nights dinner.

But let me ask you, do you plan out the whole week for dinners? If so, do you factor in flexibility incase you have a long day and don't wan to spend 30 minutes cutting up veggies or you decide at the last minute to go out to dinner? Do you always stick to what you are going to cook and how complex are your meals? Finally, do you go grocery shopping for the entire week and if so, how do you assure that the ingredients are as fresh on day 7 as they are on day 1?
 

Planit

Cyburbian
Messages
13,810
Points
55
Mrs. P wants to do the meal planning and shopping, but she gets pulled away due to work - she's comes home anywhere between 5:30 & 7:30 each night and it is not predictable. In the 'before times' The Girl had evening activities every night of the week which made meals a juggling act. We've been able to have more family dinner meals now, but scheduling is still crazy. Evenings get derailed, I've got a Council meeting, etc.

I tend to cook at least once a week, Mrs. P cooks a couple nights and the others its fend for yourself/leftovers/take out. We make sure we have some staples in the fridge & freezer to pull a meal together. And of course, Friday night is pizza night.
 

kms

Cyburbian
Messages
6,714
Points
43
You have a house full of boys so you have to be flexible.

You could plan your meals using the items with the shortest shelf life first, or move them up in line if you have to.

You're talking about meal planning, not a manufacturing process. Don't assign it more importance than it deserves. Otherwise it'll get on your nerves.
 

luckless pedestrian

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
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12,900
Points
54
I used to meal plan and I did plan around what to make on the days I had a night meeting, so that night it might be dinner out of a box/jar/freezer bag kind of thing - I stopped doing it when we moved to Maine because I worked across the street from the grocery store so we went to a more European, buy dinner every day, kind of thing

I am trying to get us back to meal planning in this pandemic world so we don't go to the store so often but my dh is resistant - I can usually plan and buy for a few days at a time

I think weekend shopping for the week with a plan means you spend less money on groceries for certain and I liked doing it - definitely plan on frozen vegetables for later in the week and assign Friday night as takeout night
 

Salmissra

Cyburbian
Messages
6,149
Points
34
I do 95% of the week's dinner cooking at my house. Weekend breakfast I do 50% (the other is usually breakfast tacos!), lunch is 50% on weekends, and 0 during the week. We split grocery shopping because we both dislike it.

I believe for me it's not meal planning. It's meal ideas.

On the shopping list:
-any staples that need replenishing, including pasta, rice, spices, oils, bread items
-salad stuff (varies depending on season and availability)
-5 meat items (varies depending on availability, sales, and buyer's preference)
-drinks (coffee, tea, water, creamer, etc)
-upcoming events/special occasions menu, like for Thanksgiving or an anniversary

Sometimes meals are planned simply by what expires first. Other times it's specific - like when Hubby bought ground turkey and said he wanted turkey tacos. I always check out the freezer sections for some back-up items - frozen meals, veggies, sides - and will replenish as needed.

No frozen pizzas allowed. Items that don't get used get frozen.

Lots of flexibility built in. Hubby has gotten a bit more adventurous in his eating during the pandemic, so I'm happily trying out some new sauces and spices. If we decide on take out, no problem - just move any ideas to the next day, or to the freezer. Rarely - and I mean in the last 9 months maybe twice - have I stated that there's no other option and we are eating XXX item. No grumbles so far.
 

gtpeach

Cyburbian
Messages
2,225
Points
23
For the last three months, we've pretty much done all our eating at home, which is a LOT of cooking for me.

I actually meal plan a month at a time. I go through each night and plan what's for dinner and then I create my grocery list. I try to buy as many items in the first grocery trip of the month as possible so that I can take advantage of buying in bulk, and then usually only buy perishable items on the weekly trips after that (milk, fresh produce, etc.).

After we buy the groceries, I prepare all the meat for the way that I'll need it for recipes (diced, stripped, filleted, etc.) and then freeze whatever I'm not going to use right away. I don't do much to prep the veggies ahead of time. But if I have multiple recipes that will use the same ingredients, I'll just prepare them all whenever I do the first dish. So if I'm making soup and I need to dice an onion, and then we're having tacos later in the week that also needs diced onion, I'll just dice everything when I make the soup.

I usually plan more involved recipes for the weekends when I have more time, and then will do simpler meals throughout the week.

CCG cooks once a week, but it's usually something like pancakes or scrambled eggs.

I stick to what we have planned about 98% of the time. For me, the preparation is not really the challenging part - it's figuring out what to make. So if I have that already planned out, the preparation is just kind of auto-pilot. Occasionally, I'll trade the order, but I follow the meal plan pretty closely.
 

luckless pedestrian

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12,900
Points
54
For the last three months, we've pretty much done all our eating at home, which is a LOT of cooking for me.

I actually meal plan a month at a time. I go through each night and plan what's for dinner and then I create my grocery list. I try to buy as many items in the first grocery trip of the month as possible so that I can take advantage of buying in bulk, and then usually only buy perishable items on the weekly trips after that (milk, fresh produce, etc.).

After we buy the groceries, I prepare all the meat for the way that I'll need it for recipes (diced, stripped, filleted, etc.) and then freeze whatever I'm not going to use right away. I don't do much to prep the veggies ahead of time. But if I have multiple recipes that will use the same ingredients, I'll just prepare them all whenever I do the first dish. So if I'm making soup and I need to dice an onion, and then we're having tacos later in the week that also needs diced onion, I'll just dice everything when I make the soup.

I usually plan more involved recipes for the weekends when I have more time, and then will do simpler meals throughout the week.

CCG cooks once a week, but it's usually something like pancakes or scrambled eggs.

I stick to what we have planned about 98% of the time. For me, the preparation is not really the challenging part - it's figuring out what to make. So if I have that already planned out, the preparation is just kind of auto-pilot. Occasionally, I'll trade the order, but I follow the meal plan pretty closely.

that's amazing - you are awesome
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,675
Points
44
Single dad of young adult kids that live with me. We have pretty narrow tastes, so grocery shopping weekly is pretty easy for me. The kids do about 80%of their own meal prep, I do about 10% for the three of us, and the other is “on your own” where we order carry out, delivery, or some such.
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
29,269
Points
72
All of our meals since March, 2020 has been prepared at home. We've saved several hundreds of dollars this year on our dining budget thanks to COVID. We typically plan meals one week at a time and build in 'fudge factor' days where we can alter the menu on short notice due to time commitments or health issues (a not infrequent factor re: Mrs. Maister) and substitute in, say, a quick breakfast for dinner.
 

Salmissra

Cyburbian
Messages
6,149
Points
34
When I used to go to the Farmer's Market, I would buy seasonal stuff, usually without a set menu in mind. But if you buy what you know will get eaten, then you can play around with it. Trying new sauces, cooking methods, etc makes meals less a chore and more an adventure.

Tip: if you have never heard of a certain fruit or veggie, then don't buy it the first time you come across it. Look it up first.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,935
Points
37
We share cooking duties but also enjoy cooking together - especially on days neither of us feels like putting in the total effort on our own. I find that really helps - and we have stuff in the freezer or "go to" dishes if we both are working late/are feeling lazy. We each have dishes that are our own specialty but a lot of stuff either of us can make.

We started getting serious about meal planning and meal preparation a couple of years ago. Generally set a plan for most meals for the upcoming week, do the groceries and then do an hour or so of prep (cutting up veggies, making snacks) on the weekend. I find cooking during the week is much easier if I can cut out most of the prep stage and just focus on making sides and the main dish. Weekends we will tend to do more involved dishes and do baking.

No kids here so I think that really helps with flexibility - in the before times we'd just head out for dinner if we really didn't feel like cooking. We still try to do take-out once a week but healthy options are limited and I have no willpower (i.e. why would I order a salad when I can have fries...).
 
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