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Menu planning - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
heleninwales
heleninwales
Menu planning
For about 6 months now I've been trying to plan main meals in advance for the whole week in order to avoid the, "What on earth are we going to eat tonight?" dilemma when it's reached 6 o'clock and I haven't even been shopping. I'm also trying to extend my repertoire and do more cooking from scratch now I have more time.

It seems to be working and from the 10-12 favourites we tended to eat week after week, I have now built up a list of 30 different meals in my spreadsheet. Yes, I admit it! I am geeky enough to have a spreadsheet which I'm using to count the frequency of each meal. This helps me to choose something we haven't eaten for a while rather than repeat something we had a few days ago. But then yesterday, despite all my planning, I got distracted by the internet and realised that I didn't have time to make the cottage pie we were supposed to be having, so I did a curry with the minced beef instead. We'll have the cottage pie tonight instead.
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Comments
kaishin108 From: kaishin108 Date: October 1st, 2015 02:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh my, you are so far ahead of me! There are only about 4 or 5 things we eat regularly! We just go on eating the same thing over and over.

I usually start the 'what should we have for dinner' conversation right after lunch and have a niggling of a idea then. But I have to say, there are some days I eat the same thing for lunch as for dinner.

Salad
Quesadilla
Steamed veggies
Spanikopita
Very thin pizza type thing with white sauce
Soup

We have SO many different allergies and food sensitives between the two of us, it is really hard. I don't eat much meat or bread and Gene cannot eat many raw veggies. Neither of us can eat spices :-/
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: October 2nd, 2015 04:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Allergies and food sensitivities make menu planning so much more difficult. It's a relief that after years of not being able to eat eggs because they triggered my IBS, I can now eat them OK, so that opens up a few more meal possibilities. Fortunately G can eat anything, so it's just down to what we like and don't like really.
seaivy From: seaivy Date: October 1st, 2015 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm not techy enough to do a spread sheet but i do keep a list

you remind me of all the years it came to be 4pm in the office and from desk to desk it was heard "what are you making for dinner?"
and stop in the market on the way home to get something to make - i always did scratch cooking
there is a fabulous cook book - 15 Minute Meals - Emma Lee Chapman - she saved me many a time


now because of the distance we shop once a week and plan the main dishes - husband is now the cook - each morning we confer - what are we doing today
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: October 2nd, 2015 04:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, when I was working full time with a long commute, I'd just shop on the way home, usually starving hungry and just grab things that were quick. But now I'm heading into retirement, I don't have the "lack of time" excuse and actually it's quite nice to revive some old favourites that I haven't cooked for years. I've even started baking cakes and puddings again.
athgarvan From: athgarvan Date: October 1st, 2015 04:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do you check what you're spending on meals over the year? I saw a recent programme on TV which took a family which never varied its meals or labels until the programmers showed how they could have wonderful new experiences at mealtimes by varying the contents and labelled items and save lots of money in the process.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: October 2nd, 2015 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's funny you should say that... I have been watching that series and as a result, I recently added another sheet to my spreadsheet to record what I'm spending. I'm wondering where they get their figures from though. They reckon that a family of four can eat well on around £80 per week and we're spending that just for the two of us. I don't reckon we're extravagant, though that figure does include wine, but it could be due to not having the large supermarkets available. We just have a Co-op and a EuroSpar. Our nearest Tesco is over half an hour's drive away, so that would wipe out any savings achieved by shopping there, and I don't know where there's an Aldi or Lidl. Bangor or Wrexham , probably(both 1.5 hour's drive), so out of the question for the weekly shop.

But I do buy a lot of the Co-op's own brand stuff, especially as they're good on Fairtrade and animal welfare.
pennski From: pennski Date: October 1st, 2015 07:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
What a good idea! I was inspired by someone to try one recipe from each cookery book we had - as a Sunday night dinner. This has added a few more things into the regular mix as well as a few more options for when we want to cook something special. It has also enabled me to get rid of a couple of cookery books that had NO recipes in that I actually wanted to try.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: October 2nd, 2015 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's a nice idea of adding new dishes to the repertoire! Also a good way of culling books that aren't any use.
khiemtran From: khiemtran Date: October 2nd, 2015 07:50 am (UTC) (Link)
We'll usually do one big shop a week, so while the exact meals aren't planned out, I'll have a good idea on Saturday of what we're going to eat at least until Thursday (when we'll usually buy fish). There will usually be one or two big slow dishes that we can cook on the weekend and then reheat, plus the ingredients for maybe two more quick meals that I can whip up after work on a week day.

Of course, there are often miscalculations, when we either run out of food or have way too much, and lots of improvisation of recipes when I forget what we'd bought and what I was going to cook with what...
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: October 2nd, 2015 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
The way I often miscalculate is to overestimate how much enthusiasm and energy I'll have left by Wednesday and Thursday. Hence the example in my post of substituting an easy curry for the cottage pie that needed a longer preparation time. Also I think I'm finally learning that if the main meal is more complex, then I shouldn't plan on making a dessert too and instead should just go with a bought cheesecake or ice cream.
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