Frugal Dinners: Thoughts on Meal Planning

(source)

I’ve been reading quite a few finance /frugal blogs which post their meal plan for the week.

The idea of a meal plan is quite foreign to me.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I live on my own (sharing basement with a room mate), and I usually batch cook for most of the week.  So my “menu plan” usually consists only one or two dishes on repeat.

Of course, most of the bloggers who do post their menu plan may live with a partner, or family, and I can understand how cooking for more than one person (and more than once a week), a plan can come in handy – or indispensable.

After cleaning out and re-organizing my pantry (later post to come), I realized that I could definitely benefit from a menu plan.  I probably have quite a few meals that I can make from my pantry and freezer combined.  And so, I created a nifty little spreadsheet with all my pantry items – categorized and tallied with pretty colours, and then I also made a tab for menu planning.

I really like spreadsheets with pretty colours and nicely organized :).  It’s like it’s calling me to use it!  (Click on the images to enlarge.)

The spreadsheet is still in the works, but I’d like to also add a line item if a certain ingredient needs to be used up so it doesn’t go bad (i.e., my yogurt expires next week), and a quickie grocery list.

I am going to try making and using a menu plan for the next few weeks, and see how it goes.  What I’d like to accomplish from this exercise is better utilization of my pantry items,  being more organized and also eating more healthy.  I would really like to incorporate more legumes into my diet, and as we know, cooking legumes (from dried beans) takes preparation.

Wish me luck!

Readers, do you have any tips for making or using a menu plan?  For readers who don’t currently use a menu plan, what helps you plan your meals?

Cheers,

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Frugal Dinners: Thoughts on Meal Planning

  1. Frugal Forties

    Good luck with your plan. I always eat better and have less food waste when I go by mine.

    I’m also a big spreadsheet fanatic! 🙂 Lots of boxes and lines and organization makes me happy!

  2. I used to try to meal plan, but to be honest, like budgeting, being super organised doesn’t work for me (especially with mine and my fiances differing schedules.) Now I usually pick out a couple of new recipes to try, and put those ingredients on the list. Then we pick up staples like meat, produce, and stuff like coconut milk, canned tomatoes, soy sauce, noodles, etc. The rest of the week we whip up old standby meals (I blogged about some of those here: http://eemusings.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/go-to-dinners/)

  3. I am a big fan of the meal plans! In addition to watching my dollars, I’m careful too about what I’m eating.
    My bf and I take turns planning the meals and doing the shopping on a weekly basis. I don’t mind to take 30 minutes on a Sunday to put together a week’s worth of recipes and write-up a grocery list. I tried to do a running excel file of our pantry, but it didn’t last more than a few weeks as we had trouble with inventory control! Instead, I’ll write out/print the recipes and highlight what we already have in the pantry/fridge before heading to the store. I also go through my coupon envelope and pull out any of the rebates will be relevant for the week. By having just 1 of us plan the week’s meal, we are able to better maximize the same fresh ingredients. I also take the left-overs for lunch at work so it’s less stress knowing that I won’t need to resort to buying take-out.

    Check out the site: http://paleogirls.com/. I’ve started following these sisters since I’ve kicked up my exercising a notch for triathalon training. I find their recipes to be healthy & sustaining!

    *Rosie*

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