In addition to being a cheapskate, I hate going to the store (especially the dreaded
On each meal plan, I always mix it with a few favorites and a few new recipes. One thing I'm glad that I've done is make a "recipe repertoire." This handy list frees up space in my brain for more important things, like the quadratic formula (x=‐b/2a ± √(b²-4ac)/2a) or the gestation period of an elephant (22 months). At the front of my cookbook from friends and family given to me at my bridal shower, I added a page that just lists every meal that I know I'm comfortable making, including the basics. It's less than 40 right now because I didn't learn to cook until adulthood, but when I really nail something new, I add it. It's also just a list of guide points, if you want to think of it that way (one entry just says "spaghetti/pasta" -- heaven knows where I can go from there).
So I use my favorite cookbooks (always my shower one with the repertoire and my Betty Crocker) and scour the index or just see what catches my eye. I also give consideration to the ones I've saved online, and then just start writing down the ones I want to do. I read a really good tip on one blog that said only to pull out 2-3 cookbooks so you don't get overwhelmed. I think the hardest part is balancing out our meals, since I pretty much love anything and everything with ground beef and tomatoes in it. But I don't want to eat that every day for a month, so I have to stretch a bit. Lately, I've been making sure to add at least one or two crock pot recipes to my meal plan. Also, when I realized how everything I know how to make contains meat, I've decided to do at least one vegetarian night per plan.
I think the best thing about my menu plans is that they aren't attached to hard-and-fast dates. I basically just put the list up on our white board, shop for all of them at once and freeze most of it, and then cross off the meals as I make them. Yes, this requires deciding the day before the meal which meat to move from the freezer to the fridge for thawing, but it sure as heck beats the daily "What should we have for dinner?" conversation I've heard both my mother and MIL have numerous times. Sometimes meals on the list never actually happen, but that's alright. I'm not a gourmet chef (and I'm not even trying to pretend I'm anywhere close), so there's probably a good reason we skipped it. Maybe next time. Or maybe never.
|This plan got us all the way through January, but I never did make the stew or the desserts!|
And if you're really at a loss and in a time-crunch, try this awesome website called Supercook.com. I actually had thought of this idea a few years back, and I'm so glad someone who knew what they were doing made it happen. You can just enter what you already have in your pantry, and it will give you recipes to make using those. Voilà, no trip to the store for you! (You always spend more money than you planned on anyway, right?)
Do you menu plan? And how long does each plan last?