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Monday, August 09, 2010

My "Laid Back Method' To Making Simple Meal Plans

One of my favorite things to do is to go to the library and look in the "new release" section for interesting cookbooks.  There always seems to be one that catches my eye, (this week it is Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce, great cookbook!) and it keeps me up to date with what is happening with food.

Ever since I was little, I love to sit with a cookbook and read it like a regular book, starting at the front and working my way to the back.  I remember when I was about 10 years old being so excited to find Amy Vanderbilt's cookbook at a garage sale for ten cents.  I bought it and devoured the insanely thick book from front to back!  When I was 11, I made an entire Thanksgiving meal with very little help.  I loved cooking!
 I think I got my love of cooking from both of my grandma's.  I remember my Grandma Thelma having us over and making us little snacks, commenting on why they were good for us.  I remember her telling me why whole wheat bread was better than white-- she knew back then what Doc Oz is trying to tell us now!!:)  She always had something on hand to feed us, and to this day, even if our visit is unannounced, she loves on us with some sort of bite to eat.  She makes the world's best sunny- side- up egg and toast!  Love her..
My Grandma Marian, who is in heaven now, was also known for her love of cooking.  She had a strawberry patch in her back yard, and was the first to introduce me the amazing freshness of homemade strawberry jam.  I remember watching her grate a potato when I was young, and making us the best potato cakes for breakfast. On Valentines day, she would send homemade candies in the mail to us, all the way from Michigan to Nebraska.  A box delivered in the mail, full of homemade goodies from grandma, was one of my most favorite childhood memories.  Under all the newspaper stuffing were tiny little chocolate peanut butter cups, wrapped with such love and care.  Now that I'm old enough to know the work that was involved, I would so love to tell her how much that meant to me as a child.

The Start Of A Plan...
Back to cookbooks and meal plans... what I have been doing lately is while reading a cookbook, I keep some post its and a pen handy.  When I come upon a recipe that sounds appealing, I write the name of the book at the top of the post it, *and list the recipe title along with the page number.  I keep the post it (or two) stuck to the front of the library book. Then, on the day I am going grocery shopping, I find the book, look at the post it, and pick a few chosen recipes to make for the week. I look at each recipe to jot down what groceries I need to buy, which is the start of my grocery list.
When I make a recipe and decide it is a keeper, then it goes on this blog.  My recipe tab on this blog is slowly becoming something that I have always wanted, -- recipes that I use regularly, organized and easy to find.  If it is a week that I don't have a new cookbook to inspire me, or time to browse the web for new recipes, I just click on my recipe tab and use my tried and true recipes here on the blog.
*I use the same method while reading magazines.
Things I consider when meal planning:
Dinner-
I usually only plan for 4 meals a week.  We have Bible Club on Tuesday evenings where we are served dinner,  and on a couple Saturday nights a month we have a bunch of young men here at the house for a "video game club," so we order pizza to feed everyone.  On Friday nights we have Family movie night and order Arby's Roast Beef Sandwiches--5 for $5.95, baby!  We have spaghetti with this sauce at least once a week, because it is so simple and everyone loves it. So really, that only leaves about 3 meals that I have to plan for.  I try hard to make healthy meals on those evenings, especially when we are eating fast food (pizza and Arby's) on the weekends!
Breakfast-
We keep it simple.  Oatmeal, whole wheat bagels, cereal, toast, eggs, and whole grain pancakes are our usual choices throughout the week.
Lunch-
I choose a soup recipe (one of his favorites) and make a big batch at the beginning of the week, to put into mason jars, (use 1/2 pint mason jars to freeze in individual portions) for my husbands work lunch.  I pack my girls lunch all though the school year, again keeping it simple.  Usually a sandwich, vegetable, fruit and crackers.  Sometimes they will get hot soup or noodles in a thermos if I'm extra motivated!
Snacks-
I usually find some great snack ideas when reading through my cookbooks, so I refer to the post its!  I talk about some healthy snack ideas in this post.
Use What I Have On Hand-
Before sitting down to write weekly meal list and grocery list, I do a quick check of my pantry and freezer/refrigerator.  I take a mental note of what we have on hand and do my best to plan meals around those items.
Flexibility-
I usually do not assign meals to different days of the week.  Instead, I have a list of meals that I keep on the refrigerator for the week, that I've bought groceries for.  I am too fickle with food to assign an exact day.  I have to see what "mood" I am in that day as far as what I want to cook and what sounds most appealing from the list.  Because of this fickleness, I don't think I will ever be one who has super organized & printed calenders on the refrigerator, with assigned meals for each day of the month, but I'm at peace with that.  I make a grocery list every week, go to the grocery store once a week, and have at least 4-5 meals planned for the week.  Simple, laid back, and good enough.
This post is linked to:
Tip Junkie
The Trendy Treehouse
We Are That Family

7 comments:

  1. Good stuff, Amy! Good enough!

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  2. Great tips. I was looking for help meal planning last week so I will bookmark your site. I am your latest RSS Subscriber from RSS Monday!

    www.letsjustgiveitaway.com

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  3. what a great plan! i don't love to cook like you do, but as i grow my skill set, i'm learning the joy of feeding and nourishing others. i may have to put some of your plans into action!

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  4. I wasn't even going to post today because I wanted to glean as much as possible from all the other great blog menu plans. Your post is just too inspiring so I had to post. http://anothersummeroffun.blogspot.com/2010/08/menu-plan-monday-undecided.html
    Thanks for being so organized and sharing these great tips with us today. beth.

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  5. you sound like me..i can't post specific meals for each day..i just make a list..i need to get more into finding new recipes..we seem to get stuck on the same ol routine!

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  6. Thank you so much for a great post!

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  7. I love your blog. I am trying to change my eating habits, and this is really helping.

    Thanks!

    Katlyn

    www.anibbledlife.com

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Thank you so much for your lovely words to me! Due to the number of comments I receive, I cannot respond to all of them - but know that I read and love every word. If you have a question in need of a response, please e-mail sponsornewnostalgia@gmail.com and either Robyn or I will get back to you.