I’ve been meal planning. It’s not the first time, but it is shaping up to be perhaps the most successful time. We’ve sustained the new system now for about 10 weeks – and that’s almost long enough to be a habit.
Ours is a fortnightly plan and runs Saturday to Friday. I work it out either Friday night or Saturday morning, and get as much input from other members of the family as they are willing to give – they are learning that if they contribute ideas I’m more likely to plan meals they actually like. I use a simple spreadsheet so that I can make notes about where the recipe comes from if appropriate, what’s already been done (such as ‘already cooked & in freezer’) and what still needs to be purchased (‘buy Turkish bread’).
This goes on the fridge so ANYONE can see what’s for dinner tonight…. This has not necessarily cut down on the number of times I am asked but at least I can look up the answer instead of saying ‘I don’t know, I haven’t worked that out yet’! This picture is an example of one from a few fortnights ago.
I write the shopping list as I go – when I put a dish into the menu plan I check the cupboard for ingredients and then add those I don’t have to the list. It is saving time both at the supermarket and at dinner time – which is a plus for everybody. I think it’s saving us money, as we have very few impulse supermarket purchases during the fortnight and really only top up on fruit and veg or perishables that might be essential for the meal (such as the Turkish Bread example above).
This does mean that once the plan is on the fridge it’s pretty set in stone as all the ingredients have been bought and the freezer and pantry are full of bits for those meals. That doesn’t mean we are not able to be flexible – on the whole we stick to it but most weeks there are arrows drawn all over the plan by the end of the fortnight as we swap meals around to better suit the weather, the botheration factor or to accommodate that fact that suddenly there’s only 2 for dinner instead of 4 that night.
As the backlog of spreadsheets is building up I am finding I can cut and paste meals we had a few weeks ago and put them into the current plan – I go back and mark anything that really wasn’t very popular as there’s not point going through that pain a second time! Our current leading favourite is the rocket pesto pasta that’s in the plan I posted here – I’ll blog that recipe separately as it is visually very appealing and needs photos 🙂