May 20, 2010

Confession: I Haven't Been Menu Planning

I've talked often about menu planning, but I've also admitted that it goes in cycles with me - and lately, I've completely gotten away from it. I can't remember the last time I planned my menu.

Things have been okay anyway, but Moneywise Moms mentioned yesterday that participating in a weekly menu planning meme helps her stay on track, and her post reminded me of the many benefits of menu planning: saving money, reducing stress, more variety, less waste, and more.

So, I'm going back to planning out my menu, but with a focus on easy, fast dinners. Side note: I only plan dinners, since breakfast is usually cereal, toast or oatmeal, and lunch is usually leftovers or a quick sandwich.

The weather here has been a bit weird - it got warm for a while, and then this week it's been cool again. It even rained a couple of times, which is downright bizarre. But the farmer's markets should be looking good, so I can get some fresh, in-season produce because I also want to make our meals with less meat. I've been reading Mark Bittman's blog, and that along with his article in a recent issue of Cooking Light has me convinced that I should at least try to downsize the amount of meat in our diet. There's no better time for such an experiment than when fresh produce is bountiful and delicious.


lbellomy said...

I'm not a hard and fast menu planner, but one thing I do that's helped me is to plan one meal ahead. Since I also only plan dinners, I'll decide what we're eating for dinner the night before I have to make it. That helps me not get overwhlemed with long-term planning, avoid the 5:30 what-are-we-going-to-eat panic, and it's a short enough time-frame so I can plan around what needs to be used up. On a really good night, I may even have time to prep a couple things or load up my crockpot so I just have to turn it on in the morning.

Camille said...

I've been in the "winging it" mode lately with dinner. I skipped planning for a few weeks. I think sometimes we just need a break from the organization. :-)

I'm reading Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" -- same concept of less meat. I saw a sample menu of his either in a book or on-line and was surprised by it. I guess we are eating less meat than I thought!

CJ said...

Gosh where do you live that it hardly ever rains? I need to come there! It's rained here 9 out of the past 11 days.

Gina @ MoneywiseMoms said...

You're right to focus on fast & easy. Remember that even planning "McDonalds night" for a night you know will be nuts is part of having a plan. It still helps you avoid overspending on the other nights. I have weeks where I know I can't cook, so I plan for fish sticks or whatever. It still helps my stress level to know what's for dinner.