Food Fun (?)

One thing I’ve mastered since moving out on my own is organizing my meals and food prep. It helps that I enjoy cooking, I think, but that doesn’t mean trying to make meals on weeknights is super fun for me 😛 So, over the years, especially the last couple with Evan around, I think I’ve put together a really great system.

First, I keep a spreadsheet of every meal we like and categorize them (chicken, beef, veggie, breakfast, etc.). That way, when I get to making the grocery list (see below), I have go-to ideas and don’t have to come up with things on the spot.

Second, I plan our meals out for the week. I choose a dinner for every night of the week. Saturday and Sundays tend to be more involved. Monday-Thursdays usually consist of 1 chicken, 1 beef, and 2 veggie meals. I don’t commit a certain meal to a specific day, but just choose from the 4 (this is in case we don’t really feel like a particular meal one day). I shoot to have all these meals have leftovers for lunches for myself and DH the next day. Friday is my easy night – that means either take-out (from our pre-approved list of favourites) or something like individual pizzas, pancakes, or home-made chicken wings.

Third, I write out a grocery list. I go through all the meals I planned and make sure we have everything for them. I then make sure we stock up on breakfast stuff (cereal, bread, milk, fruit), and things for snacks and lunch fillers (fruit, yogurt, granola bars, crackers, cheese, etc.). I also get things like lunch meat or frozen meals (for DH) in case we don’t have enough left overs for lunch. Finally, I add toiletries and other household things to the list. DH then goes grocery shopping on Saturday mornings, and we aim for that to be the only time we hit the grocery store that week. Sometimes we have to make extra trips, but that can be done quick by me with Carter in tow, or by DH on his way home from work.

Finally, I always try to have some basics on hand in case we run out, forget it at the store, or don’t want a particular meal. We keep our deep freezer stocked with chicken breasts/wings, ground beef, sausages, beef roasts, and pork tenderloin. We always have pasta in the pantry, or stuff to make pancakes/waffles (the no fail meal!),

I’m thinking, over the next while, I might share some of my easy go-to weekday meals, because I know I’m always looking for ideas, and that’s the time a lot of us get stuck.

What kinds of things do you do to make meal time go a bit smoother?

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Comments on: "Food Fun (?)" (4)

  1. I love the idea of a spreadsheet! I'm just trying to learn how to manage dinners every night. It is one of my least favorite chores and sometimes I don't think we eat healthily enough. It is also hard to cook things that my 2 yr old will eat.

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  2. I do something very similar with the spreadsheet and weekly menu list. As it is just my partner as I, we are pretty flexible and like to eat out a fair bit. We usually schedule 5 meals and leave two floater days, which has been working well recently.

    Our challenge is coordinating sets of meals so that if we buy an ingredient for one meal, we make something else to use it up before it goes bad. Most things can be frozen, but we still seem to throw away more half-used veggies than I would like. I think making bigger batches of the given meal and then freezing half of that might be the solution (we are more sandwich for lunch people as opposed to leftover people)

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  3. We have a very similar system, though Excel is not involved. I just have one of those giant accordion envelope/folders with recipes in different categories and a ton of cookbooks. I plan for 3-4 meals and make enough that it feeds us for 2 days. I don't have the stamina to cook every single day, even when not pregnant!

    I make a grocery list that is sectioned according to the departments of the grocery store, in the order I'd actually walk through them. That format has saved me so much time! I also get the essentials for the meals I've planned, plus the usual staples (bagels, juice, milk, snacks). I do the grocery shopping once a week or every week and a half. I always do it on a weekday, either on a day off or after school. Jason always goes to Sherwood Forest on Saturday mornings so if we need anything extra, he picks it up there and we sometimes go to Angelo's together on Sundays for fresh lunch supplies.

    My freezer is a work in progress. Right now, I'm stocking it with meals for when the baby comes. Usually, we stockpile meat and some easy entrees for days I don't feel like cooking. I try to keep a list of what's in there and when I put it in so that we can use the oldest first. I always go through the flyers and when pantry items are on sale, I replenish anything that's running low (I keep a list) so it's always stocked.

    My current goal is to try to do more prep work on the weekends, like cutting fruits/veggies and washing greens, to save work during the week and make for easier/healthier snacks. Still haven't gotten into that habit yet, though!

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  4. Something I started this year is following a basic “cook's pantry list”. I personalized it a bit, but I find that as long as I have all of these items in the pantry/freezer then I can pull together a meal from most recipes. I try to stock up once every 3- 4weeks and then weekly we get “fresh” fruits and veg, dairy, breads. It's really cut down on last minute trips to the grocery store because I don't have whatever I need for a recipe.

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