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Weekly household menu

Maister

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#1
Does anyone else make an effort to prepare a weekly dinner menu for their household? We never used to do this, but have been trying to do so for the past six months or so. I've discovered several positive things about planning menus in advance:
1. It eliminates the age old debate/question "what do you want for dinner tonight? Meatloaf? No, we had that two weeks ago.....breaded chicken? No, that doesn't trip my trigger. How about soup? It's too hot out for that. I think we have some goulash in the freezer. Naw, let's save that for a quickie meal......" Having the meal figured out ahead of time allows you to adopt the mindset - this is what we're going to have, adjust your expectations accordingly.
2. It saves money. When you go to the store to buy only those items you need to prepare meals for the week it means you're not spending money on 'what ifs'
3. It encourages utilization of existing food stores. When you're checking to see what things are available in the freezer, fridge and pantry every week or two, you're more aware of what's available on hand at a given moment and more apt to use it, instead of letting the 'use by' dates fly by or getting freezer burnt in the back of the chest freezer
4. It encourages creativity and trying new things. If you're anything like us you've got lots of cookbooks. How often do you use them? If you use them as part of a weekly/bi-weekly meal planning session it not only helps determine quantities of items you'll need to purchase but also lends itself to new experimentation. Lots of times I'll be looking up recipe A and notice something interesting on the opposite page and think 'why don't we try this recipe for a change?'
5. It results in less frequent trips to the store. There's a whole lot less discovering you're out of ingredient X, Y, or Z and having to make a quick trip to the store when you've planned everything out completely in advance.

We still occasionally have times when we run into those 'gee, that doesn't sound good tonight for dinner' occasions, but what we do now is make adjustments like switching Thursday's planned meal with Friday's and maybe discover that the same thing on Friday sounds more appetizing than it did the day before.

Has anyone else discovered the advantages of pre-planning their meals and conducting their grocery shopping more or less in accordance with the menu?
 

kjel

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#2
I've always done this. Usually I plan for 5 meals knowing that the schedule will have a curveball one night a week and we go out for dinner the other night. Usually I check to see what protein I have in the freezer and start the menu from there. It's also a good way to check the ad from the grocery store I generally shop at to see if there's a good sale on something.

If you are stuck for ideas, I highly suggest the Kitchen Matrix by Mark Bittman. Tasty food, easy recipes. https://www.amazon.com/Mark-Bittmans-Kitchen-Matrix-Possibilities/dp/0804188017
 

Pegguy11

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#3
Meal planning is the other kind of planning I have fallen in love with. Our house usually does it every Saturday so my dad or I can shop once we know what we're making and we've taken a look at what we got. It's really nice that were predictable people, so usually chicken dinner Sunday, followed by left overs, pot pie, or sandwiches for dinner Monday. Right now the two of us only plan dinners as its all we eat together, and we always seem to have lots of breakfast supplies. Only tricky part is hopping there are left overs or useable odds and ends for lunches
 

kms

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#4
The closest I come is making a big pot of soup one day each weekend in the winter and filling and freezing bags of soup for work lunches.
 
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#5
My wife has been starting to plan out a menu for the week and going to the store Monday morning to get the ingredients. We almost always end up veering off schedule by the middle of the week, but the whole scheduled menu idea is pretty new for us so hopefully we'll get better at sticking to it.
 

gtpeach

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#6
I think I'm going to start doing emeals again. Now that I live in the country, getting groceries is a big deal. I've gone from living three blocks away from a grocery store to having to drive 20 minutes to get to the nearest one.
 

dvdneal

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#7
The wife does the meal planning. Usually two weeks at a time just to keep us on a budget. We have a list of staples like pizza, curry, roast chicken, a couple different chicken and beef dishes and whatever else.
 

Planit

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#8
It's difficult in our world it seems.

Monday - open night & we usually have a meal plan.
Tuesday - Band which ends at 9:00, I have meetings three times a month, plus soccer matches starts this week
Wednesday - Dance which ends at 9:00, I have a meeting most weeks
Thursday - Soccer starts this week & will end at 8:00
Friday - Pizza night
Saturday - ?
Sunday - leftovers.
 

kjel

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#9
It's difficult in our world it seems.

Monday - open night & we usually have a meal plan.
Tuesday - Band which ends at 9:00, I have meetings three times a month, plus soccer matches starts this week
Wednesday - Dance which ends at 9:00, I have a meeting most weeks
Thursday - Soccer starts this week & will end at 8:00
Friday - Pizza night
Saturday - ?
Sunday - leftovers.
Cook a couple of dishes on Sunday that you can heat and eat on those late nights.

I will cook up extra chicken breast, although I usually use the boneless, skinless tenders. Marinate them, throw them in the grill pan, and put them in a ziplock bag in the fridge. You can put them on top of a salad, cook up some rice and a bag of steam fresh veggies, or make tacos (1 tender per small tortilla) and just pull out the toppings like cheese, sour cream, and salsa. I will often roast a big tray of mixed vegetables tossed with herbs, olive oil, and a splash of vinegar on the weekend. You can eat it as a side dish or make some couscous which takes like 5 minutes to cook.
 

dvdneal

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#10
A lot of times we'll either make enough that it can be frozen and reheated for a second meal or we'll do a roast chicken that can usually give us enough leftover meat for some kind of shredded chicken meal like shawarma or tacos.
 
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#11
While I like the idea of meal planning, we don't do it. We live walking distance to a grocery store so we normally only plan a day or two in advance. Plus Itty Bitty has dinner with my parents 3x a week so we often just eat leftovers/cereal on those nights.
 

Planit

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#12
Cook a couple of dishes on Sunday that you can heat and eat on those late nights.

I will cook up extra chicken breast, although I usually use the boneless, skinless tenders. Marinate them, throw them in the grill pan, and put them in a ziplock bag in the fridge. You can put them on top of a salad, cook up some rice and a bag of steam fresh veggies, or make tacos (1 tender per small tortilla) and just pull out the toppings like cheese, sour cream, and salsa. I will often roast a big tray of mixed vegetables tossed with herbs, olive oil, and a splash of vinegar on the weekend. You can eat it as a side dish or make some couscous which takes like 5 minutes to cook.
We do end up with those options. A rotisserie chicken makes a couple meals (chix tacos and chix dumplings or chix pie); usually a pound of ground beef cooked in the freezer, a bag of chix tenders to use in many ways, a frozen meal-in-one bag, pasta and sauces of various kinds.

It just not that those are really planned. It's more like what time is it when we get home and what's in the freezer. At least one of those long nights its Subway.
 
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#13
I started in earnest this school year once I realized how large my food budget was last school year. :not: Also I've been really busy the past two months with dance classes in the evenings, and general kid stuff (homework, etc). During the week, most weeks I use the crock pot twice, eat leftovers once, some sort of fish once, and pizza/something easy on Fridays.
 

Maister

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#14
Soups, chili, stew, and goulash are typically made in large batches. We frequently freeze them and use them as quickie meals throughout the year.
 

Bubba

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#15
We don't sit down and plan out everything for a weekly dinner menu, but we do stick to a general routine that cuts down on debates and helps focus the weekly grocery shopping.

Sunday: I grill a protein (unless the weather really, really sucks that day), Mrs. Bubba whips up a nice side dish or two, and we eat in the dining room instead of the eat-in kitchen area.

Monday: Dinner out - Mrs. Bubba makes the grocery run for the week after work, and by the time she gets home, neither of us generally want to cook. So, we grab a quick dinner out on the cheap.

Tuesday: Generally one of three things - leftovers from Sunday, or some sort of pasta, or a quickish chicken- or pork-centric meal. Note - this also is what we do on Thursday (after one of the three options has been eliminated).

Wednesday: Kind of a catch-all for everything else based on what we have in the freezer. Tacos? Sausages? Whatever that thing is in the back left corner of the beer fridge's freezer?

Thursday: See Tuesday

Friday: Dinner out - end of the work week reward. Generally a step or two up in restaurant quality from Monday, and more leisurely. This is also turning into a looooooong dinner out with the neighbors about once a month.

Saturday: This is a toss-up - either we have plans and are out, or it turns into "What do you want to eat? I don't know, what do you want?" Usually ends up as some sort of low-effort meal if we're at the house.
 
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#16
We do, but it is always changing because of night meetings, cub scouts, baseball, and 1000 other things. One of the things that we did was subscribe to Blue Apron because it really expands our food options and opens the door to things that we might not have cooked otherwise. We figure that each meal is cheaper that Applebees or a similar priced restaurant.
 

Maister

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#17
Life can definitely get in the way of well-planned meal schedules no matter how careful and well intended those plans may be. We typically make schedule accommodations for those unforeseen events by having a handful of go-to quick/low effort meals - such as pancakes - that we'll always keep ingredients on hand for.
 
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#18
Growing up, my parents were very routine with the meal schedule. My mom would make the weekly grocery list and the dinner menu for the week was always included in the corner of the page as a guide. We would cut it out and put it on the fridge after she or my dad returned from the store. Of course, there would be open slots from time to time to allow for going out or carry out or when there were events where we weren’t all home. Otherwise, it was pretty essential to have a weekly menu to keep the family dinner tradition alive and have some sense of organization and budgeting when grocery shopping for and feeding a family of five.

As a single person, I don’t have a weekly dinner menu. I try to cook things that last a few days, or I’ll pick up something, or I’ll just have a light snack. Lunch tends to be my more important meal and I have my regular rotation of places I go...it’s important for my sanity to get out of the office. At least one night during the weekend, I’ll usually go out to a sit-down place and sit at the bar. As a single person in a new area, it’s important to get out of the house and be around people and I long ago learned to embrace eating out alone. I am starting to make some friends though and family/friends visit me or I fly to visit them on average of once every 1-2 months.
 
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