Sunday, January 18, 2009

Meal Planning

I'm a procrastinator.  I'm not even gonna lie.  If it can be put off, it will be.  I have the best of intentions, but really, don't we all?

Dinner is no different.  I love to cook, or maybe I should say I used to love to cook.  Back when there was more money than I knew what to do with, and more time than I could shake a stick at. 

When something goes from a hobby to a chore, well that's the beginning of a downward spiral... 

Nowadays, making dinner is part of the job description, so somehow - it's just not as fun. Especially when Professional Penny Pincher is at the beginning of the job title...

With the budget I'm working with, Giada and Rachael's recipes are a little out of reach.  It's the old stand by types that I have to rely on these days.  Things like chili, spaghetti, rice dishes, soups, lots of chicken and ground beef.  I have my freezer and pantry nicely stocked, and honestly the possibilities are endless!  All I have to do is decide, plan and follow through.  

(If I had the capability to provide you with sound effects, at the moment you heard that last sentence, you would hear that zzzzzzzip, sound of a record player being stopped suddenly...)

Decide?  Plan?  Follow through?  Dun dun dun....

Commence procrastination...

In my bloggy travels, I've come across a lot of great ideas. Using the crockpot, freezing meals, assembling meals early in the day and popping it in the oven at dinner time, and most importantly... Meal Planning.

I had an aha! moment last week, and if I can find some follow through - our lives just might be forever changed.

It occurred to me that I could treat meal planning like lesson planning.  For those of you that don't know - I use to be a teacher, in a former life, so this rings a bell that hasn't been rung in a while.  I came this close (thumb and pointer half an inch a part) to buying an actual lesson planning book.  Once I got a hold of myself, I opted to go with the standard notebook.

I began by making a list of all of the meals that I cook.  I went through my recipe book, which was very helpful in jogging my mommyfied memory.  I separated out all of the recipes that I will be using on a regular basis, and put them in a recipe box, so there will be no goose chasing later.

I chose the recipes I'd like to have in the next few weeks, keeping in mind things in the pantry, and making note of the items I'll be needing on my next grocery outing.

I started trying to fill in my days, and I was immediately overwhelmed.   I remember it well.  Knowing I had so much I was responsible for teaching those bratty kids, and knowing I wanted to do a really good job and feeling so overwhelmed.  Oftentimes, I'd hang it up before I even got going.  The good news is, now,  my only critic doesn't care what he eats for dinner.  As long as it ain't beets.  And the State of Michigan and the President of the US of A, couldn't care less about my content.  That's a welcome change.

I love the flexibility that comes with my new game plan.  If things change on a particular day, I can switch things up.  Say I have an unexpected visitor, and opt to not slave in the kitchen when they're here.  I can swap Tuesday's chicken parm, for Wednesday's freezer cabbage soup.  No big deal.

My new plan will help me cut my big grocery shopping back to monthly instead of weekly.  This will save money, since there will be less opportunity for the impulse buys.  Of course, I may need a few fresh fruits, vegetables, milk or eggs, but for the most part, it will be one big shopping trip.

If things go as planned, I'll be... 

*stocking the freezer as I go and will eventually only have to cook a couple times a week.
*saving money, hopefully allowing for funds to re- implement date night.  Soon!
* resting at 4, instead of racking my brain over what I'll be making for dinner and how I'll pull it off with frozen meats and no motivation in an hour.
*a month ahead in my planning.  Something I would have KILLED for when I was teaching
*patting myself on the back.

I'll keep you posted.  I'm sure I'll come up with more ideas as I move forward...

Wish me luck!


No comments:

Post a Comment