Meal Planning has been very helpful for me but sometimes it feels like an absolute chore. I’d rather be doing something else than sifting through my list of recipes, figuring out what looks good or what I have the ingredients for. Meal planning is not at all fun and eventually I get bored with it and quit. Then I stumbled upon 6 Tips for Sticking to Your Meal Plan. Number one on the list is to remind yourself why you’re meal planning to begin with. I started meal planning for several reasons and I think it’s about time I remember what they are.
- Budget. Only buy what we’ve planned to eat for the week, no extra unnecessary items.
- Health. Planning should prevent us from last-minute dinner panic resulting in too much pizza or mac and cheese
- Simplicity. Eliminate the guesswork, make a plan once and don’t worry about it again for a week.
And of course, you can’t know if you’re reaching your goals without a little evaluation.
- Budget. Last year, when I took a hiatus from meal planning, we spent about $490 a month on groceries. In 2012, when I planned more regularly, we spent an average of $440 a month. Still not what I’d like to see, but better. Unfortunately I’m not sure how to do that. For the month of August, when I started meal planning again, we spent $700 on groceries. UGH! It’s true that this time around I’m focusing on buying more fresh foods, organics, low-sodium, etc., and those all cost more. But $200 more?! We’ll see how September goes and re-evaluate then…
- Health. Well, I’ve been buying more produce and fewer processed foods, more organics and fewer extra junk food items, so technically it’s working. We’re not exactly losing a bunch of weight, but eating better food is beneficial anyway.
- Simplicity. In the beginning I tried too hard to mix it up all the time and only make new recipes we hadn’t tried before. This, of course, adds the stress and time of trying to find the recipes to make, then extra time cooking because I’m not familiar with the recipe at hand, and the ever-present risk of it being awful. I need to get better about picking a handful of tried-and-trues to make all the time, and limit myself to one new thing a week, if even that.
So as it turns out, Meal Planning is not, in fact, a silver bullet like many organization gurus across the internet claim it to be. Alone it’s only part of a solution that has to include a lot of other things like watching for sales, coupon clipping, going to the gym, and getting out of your own head. It is a good start, though. I find if I try to change too many things at once, none of them are successful. Next up, I’ll have to get better about coupons. Which means I’m going to have to look at what’s on sale before I make my plan. Is this encroaching on the Simplicity goal though?
I think for this week, I’m just going to plan on making the following things, whatever’s on sale.
Monday – Rock ‘n’ Roll Rice
Tuesday – Salad Of Epicness (all my favorite veggies in a bowl with walnut oil vinaigrette)
Wednesday – Chickpea & Veg Salad with Basil Honey Vinaigrette (except with fresh veggies instead of canned)
Thursday – Zucchini Day, attempt #2. Zucchini Fritters and Stuffed Tomatoes with Couscous and Zucchini ( America’s Test Kitchen: The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook)
Friday – Chicken Jardinière
Saturday – Grand Traverse. Eating out.
Sunday – Leftovers