Sunday, August 8, 2010

planny-mc-plannerton

I go to the grocery store entirely too much.  I always mean to go on Sunday for the whole week, but then I don't really know what I'm going to feel like cooking Monday through Thursday... Thus, I end up purchasing only the everyday staples we're low on + dinner fixings for a night or two, leaving me back at the store on Monday or Tuesday (and usually Wednesday... and perhaps Thursday...).  This is okay since there is a small neighborhood Tom Thumb a block from the cottage, but I fear is a habit that will become obnoxious once we move into the new house

Lately, I've noticed that if I need to go to the market after work but I've also planned on going to the gym, I'm tempted to ditch the exercise altogether... Two stops just sometimes seems overwhelming after a 45 minute commute home.  Note: This is a MASSIVE EXCUSE as the Gym-Grocery-Home trajectory is only about 2 miles in total.  

ALSO! ALSO! I'm in a bit of a recipe rut.  I feel pretty restricted in the kitchen during summertime.  It's too damn hot to spend an extended period of time huddled over the stove, and so many of my favorite weeknight recipes are soups, stews, and casseroles that feel too heavy when the heat index tops out around 110.  We've about OD'ed on Peanut Crusted Chicken, Spinach Pesto Linguine with Rotisserie Chicken & Asparagus, and  Tostadas.  My tacos are still holding strong, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they get shelved for a while, too. 

So... Time for a change! A change that will eradicate excuses and hopefully expand my recipe repertoire.  The change will also save me time and, I'm told, some cash - two things I like quite a lot!  

That's right... Recipe Planning!  I'm taking a page from loads of other ladies (Rachel comes to mind, specifically... and we won't even discuss how jealous I am that her husband loves to cook, too!) and attempting to map out and purchase ingredients for 4 nights' worth of meals on Sundays.  


I had a nerdily fun time this morning, pouring over my cookbooks with a steaming cup of coffee, rediscovering recipes I'd dog-earred but never created, and stumbling across yummies I'd never noticed before.  And I geeked out even more with my Menu Card...

Monday - Baked Tilapia + White Bean Saute, both from Everyday Food: Fresh Flavors Fast
Tuesday - Grilled Greek Chicken Kebabs, from EF: FFF + Near East Pine Nut Cous Cous 
Wednesday - Poblano Turkey Chili from Williams-Sonoma's One Pot Meals 
Thursday - Wild Card**

** I cook Sunday through Thursday, unless I go out with friends during the week.  My grand idea is to plan recipes for four nights, leaving a little leeway open for the fifth.  Also, the meal order is a bit arbitrary.  Por ejemplo, if I make plans for Tuesday night (coughcough) or if I'm not feeling fish tomorrow, I'll just play a little Menu Musical Chairs.  OMG is this the most boring post of all time?

The full menu won't become a regular weekly feature, but I thought I'd share my first attempt in the name of accountability... and because (again, Nerd Alert), I'm kinda jazzed by the sight of my Happy Orange Card!  

Do y'all recipe plan? 

28 comments:

  1. Meal planning is one of my top joys in life. I'm so ready to be the master of my own kitchen domain again.

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  2. Back in the days when I worked, and would come home and then need to cook dinner for my son, quickly, I found this cookbook to be indispensable. And delicious. http://www.amazon.com/Working-Cook-Fresh-Meals-People/dp/097608807X. Tara Duggan was/is the food critic for the SF Chronicle, if I remember, and her food is good and easy. Also includes nutritional information.

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  3. Funnily enough, I just finished planning my week's menu and am about to head to the store. I like to plan for 5 meals and use this as a rough rubric: 1 Pioneer Woman recipe, 2 Every Day with Rachel Ray Mag recipes, 2 recipes of my own/my mom. Sometimes, I view the menus of my favorite restaurants online and try to create an at-home version of their dishes, too.

    Here is my biggest tip: If you have a seafood recipe, cook it FIRST. Fish doesn't stay fresh for long, so go ahead and cook it on Monday (or Sunday) in case you end up making out-to-eat plans early in the week. Otherwise, you should probably hold off on buying seafood until the day you make it.

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  4. I have to recommend a recipe. Zesty Baked Chicken Wings, courtesy of RHONY Bethenny Frankel. My boyfriend said they wouldn't be good, now we eat them once a week. I add more lemon zest and hot sauce.

    http://www.wearenotmartha.com/2010/02/zesty-baked-chicken-wings/

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  5. We have to plan, otherwise we end up eating out half the week and making pizza at home (which still isn't healthy!) the other half! I do the same thing regarding planning just 4 or 5 days. We may end up having more leftovers or going out on a Friday.

    Allison also has a great point about seafood - if we're planning on fish we waiting until the night before to pick it up at the grocery store.

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  6. Meal planning is amazing! My husband and I have so much fun looking through our cookbooks and then making a complete grocery list. We'll usually plan for 2 weeks, which is usually about 10-12 meals. We have to go back to the store to pick up additional produce before the two weeks is up, but even with that trip we are saving buckets of money.

    We'll usually plan for one or two really indulgent meals (carbonara or bolognese), and we always try to include one or two new recipes with each shop.

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  7. He may help with the cooking, but he will not watch Bravo tv with me like Evs does with you!

    Happy meal planning!! I can't wait to hear how it all goes!

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  8. I always attempt to plan, but it never lasts long (usually because we're always craving something different than what's planned...) Plus, lately I've been all over meat, veggies and a baguette - which means I have to stop after work to buy a fresh one. Not to mention some vino....

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  9. umm i feel inferior to everyone who menu plans for almost everyday. i menu plan 3 days a week so we won't eat out every single day. otherwise we totally would. it's pretty fun to try new recipes though! if you like pork i just posted my favorite recipe last week- pork chop hash brown casserole. if you're trying to be healthy it might not be your thing, but it's soooo delicious.

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  10. I do not menu plan for the week ahead, but always wish I did. It's on the list of things I'll do when I'm a real grownup.

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  11. My husband loves to cook (thank God!) so I only have to worry about cleaning up the massive messes he leaves in the kitchen. We try to plan but, sadly, fail every week. We have a grocery store with amazing meat and produce that's very close to our house, so no matter how much we try to plan ahead, husband ends up stopping by there almost every day after work. He gets inspired way too much by the Food Network and wants to make whatever he sees THAT VERY MOMENT, regardless of what's already in the fridge. I wish we were capable of planning ahead, but I'll never argue with husband's spontaneous 10 p.m. cupcakes!

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  12. I'm obsessed with recipe planning. I usually do it on Saturday or Sunday (depending on whether or not I go to the Farmer's Market on Saturday). But there are times when the whole plan goes to $*!t and we waste a ton of food. Also, I tend to get really snippy with my husband because he isn't helpful in the planning process.

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  13. I totally plan for the whole week AND now that we have a big new freezer I've started making cassaroles and bakable pasta dishes and freezing them. They can go straight from the freezer to the oven and dinner is on the table in 60 minutes, which is clutch for days when you don't feel like cooking or get home too late.

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  14. I love meal planning. I love it so much I'm gathering recipes all week, make my lists on Saturday and look forward to shopping on Sunday (This is also known as law school makes you craaaazy). It's so much more efficient, but I'd be careful to plan very perishable items in the beginning of the week. Its pretty depressing to realize some produce went bad on you before you got to it. My parents thought I was crazy when I started doing it this summer, but it really helps keep costs down as well, so they grew to like it.

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  15. haha not a boring post at all! It grabbed my attention because I've also been interested in creating new meals as we're in a rut too. I think you should post about new recipes/meal plans often :)

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  16. I try to go to the grocery store every two weeks. It was hard for me to adjust to this at first, but it saves us money and time. It also means at the end of the second week we eat the most random things because I have run out of food and all of the fresh ingredients are gone. But it sure is nice to have a weekend where I don't make a trip to the grocery store. I also make a menu card! If I don't I forget what meals we have planned.

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  17. I'm a recipe plan spaz. When it's really busy around the house, it's pasta or rotisserie chicken. But if I get inspired, like I did this weekend, I have 3-4 meals planned out. I prefer to plan it that way, but sometimes life gets in the way! :) I love the note-card idea!

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  18. I am a major meal planner! It saves me a lot of time and also $$ because I go to the grocery store with a plan instead of "hmmm, this looks good....well, now, what side dish should I make? Hmm...". Yes, I'm a total nerd.

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  19. I have been known to have the exact same problem as you.. go to the store on Sunday and stock up on essentials and stuff for maybe 1 dinner. I then go back at least 3 other times later in the week! I hate it, but just can't get it all together on Sunday.
    I've tried weekly menu planning a few times, but never stick to what I wanted to make and get stuck with a pantry of odd ingredients that were supposed to go in a recipe and never did. I'm going to try to force myself to try it again once school starts in a few weeks... a trip to the grocery on the way home from work is the worst!

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  20. I love to meal plan! I even type my grocery list-dork alert!

    Right now I am in serious diet mode, so my shopping trips revolve around fruits and veggies.

    I noticed when I planned for the whole week-I would end up not making everything-flexibility is key!

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  21. Oh yeah, I have to plan or we;d never have anything to eat. I do the same Sun-Thurs routine that you do. I feel like I deserve the reward and treat myself on the weekends. It's worked for us for 9 years now! Good luck.

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  22. That's pretty much exactly how we do it, except we do our shopping on Monday after we pick up our CSA share. (We don't find out what's coming in our CSA until too late on Sunday night.) But otherwise, the same... we plan for four meals (Mon-Thurs), but feel free to mix it up as far as what meal on what day if we're not feeling it. We usually have enough stuff in the kitchen to cobble together meals Friday-Sunday if we don't end up with plans. If one of both of us has weeknight plans, we adjust accordingly. I even mark down on our meal plan what source the recipe comes from, just as you did!

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  23. Someday when I grow up and figure out this whole "housewife" thing, I truly intend on menu planning. Oh yea. And cooking.

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  24. Great idea! My boyfriend and I really try to do this too but sometimes it's so hard! We usually will try to think about what we want while we're at Trader Joes for our weekly shopping trip. Of course we somehow never seem to purchase enough and I'm always stopping at the store at least once during the week.

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  25. I've been trying for weeks to get into the menu planning groove. It's also hard for me to get to the grocery store during the work week if I want to run or workout, too. And trying to visit farmers markets during operating hours is another challenge altogether. Oh, and we've spent approximately three weekends this summer in our own home, so Sunday shopping has been a struggle. Yikes. Enough with the excuses. I need to give this thing another go. Thanks for the motivation!

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  26. Oh I totally do, but I still frequently have to dash back to the grocery store. I pour over recipe books/blogs on Saturday mornings, then tend to cook at least 2 meals on Sunday, plus prep a ton of veggies for snacking. If you want more recipe ideas for summer, I've got a gazpacho and easy Chinese Chicken salad recipe that last all week!

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  27. My husband and I meal plan together, and we love it. It's a relatively recent development for us, too, as we were encountering a lot of the same issues you were before we started spending too much, taking too many trips to the store).
    We are currently getting a farm share of produce midweek, so that is a bit of a wildcard for us but it's worked out really well so far.

    Lucky for me, my husband is a chef so he ends up doing most of the cooking. But something about meal planning together has inspired me to get in the kitchen more. It feels like a fun mutual project!

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  28. We try to recipe plan, but its tough for us....I'm always looking for inspiration so thanks for posting links!

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happy little comments!