I try to plan. I have notebooks of lists, I love a good list! I wrote about my diary and calendar keeping here. My system is still going and has, for the most part, worked. Although as I write this I have remembered a birthday card that I forgot to post! It has until Friday to arrive though so I hope the Royal Mail will deliver it in time.
Plans are always going around in my head, thoughts about this and that. By writing things down I somehow get them in order and find that even if I don't look at the note or list again I remember things more than if I had never written them down. It is something to do with letting go the worry of remembering I think.
One thing that I am terrible at remembering though is meal planning. What is in the cupboards, the freezer, will that fit with our plans, what if I have an early meeting that evening and need something quick to eat, or hubby has a club to go to.
So, as you might guess, I have a system and a list for organising meals. It goes something like this. I say something because you know, rules are made to be broken and plans are sure to change! This does at least give us some sort of framework to guide what we eat.
I plan meals for the month ahead. It is easier for me that way because I don't buy meat at the same place that I do the rest of our shop. So I can make a list of all the meat that I want for the month and go and buy all of that, put it in the freezer and then I can just shop at my local supermarket for everything else.
First of all I do a stocktake of what is left in the freezer and any other things in the cupboards that will make up meals. Then I make a list for all the days of the month, noting any particular dates, a holiday, days when there are evening meetings or clubs, days when we will be out until late. I know to select a quick meal for those days.
Next step is to assign meals based on what is in the freezer from the previous month.
After that I fill in the rest of the meals. I try to use no more than two recipe books (this month it is Bill Granger Easy and Nigella Lawson Express plus a few things from my own book that I made up). I do that because I find that writers of books tend to use a lot of the same "specialist" ingredients so by using several of their recipes in a month there is a good chance that I will use the half a pack of this or that ingredient that might otherwise be left - and wasted. I hate waste!
When I have the full months list of meals I work out all the meat that I need and will go and buy that. This saves multiple shopping trips, allows me to buy larger packs of things that I can then split down for the different meals and reduces waste! By buying larger packs and shopping less frequently I save money too!
Each week I then just buy all of the day to day things that we need and the other/fresh ingredients for that weeks meals.
I know that this might all sound complicated, but it isn't really. I make sure that I use up what is in the freezer so we don't end up with "mystery food" buried in there. As I said it also reduces shopping and cost. Plus I don't have the moment of standing in front of the freezer in the morning thinking "what shall we have for dinner" because I just consult the list and take out whatever we need. I should also just say that although a lot of this is because of my meat purchases, we don't eat meat every day and quite often have vegetarian meals! Today is cheesy quiche and salad for example.
Sometimes life throws us a curve ball. We were supposed to have chilli for dinner last Thursday and takeout on Friday. I forgot to buy any beans for the chilli. So we had takeout on Thursday and I made the chilli on Friday after I bought some beans. Last night we were supposed to have a pork dish, but I was exhausted and hubby said he would cook, so he made something else with the pork - which was yummy! - so we still ate the pork, just in a different way.
What I really love to plan are dishes where I can make a big batch of something, then I can freeze the extra for another day. It feels like a sort of homemade takeout, a delicious meal, but no work, just heat it up! What could be better hey!
All of these lists, but gosh, I don't have to worry about meals all month. How great is that!
So that is me! Now over to you. How do you plan your meals? Do you plan? What do you do?
I am having fun joining with Meal Planning Monday.