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Risible

Monkey Daze
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I've tried meal planning a few times and it's worked out, but I just don't have the interest/wherewithal to regularly follow through on it. So what I typically do is buy a ton of pantry/fresh items every three weeks or so, then get dairy/produce every week. With this method, I can plan a meal the day before, thinking it through to make sure I have the ingredients or, if not, plan something else.

I get inspired by watching Food Network ... Rachel Ray, 5 Ingredient Fix, Chef Anne are some of my favorites. I'll watch an episode and have this raging desire to have whatever it is they're cooking for myself ... so I like a well-stocked pantry to be able to do this.

I also get inspiration from our garden, planning meals around whatever's fresh. That's fun; I love cooking with fresh food.

Once or twice a year I'll place a Penzey's order; fresh spices and herbs always tempt me into trying new things.

Maybe that's why I'm not good at meal planning in advance - I like to try new recipes or techniques, and, though I'm hugely a creature of habit when it comes to food, I'm not afraid to try new things (unless it's an unusual meat or seafood product. Not a big fan of experimenting with meat or seafood).
 

kayrae

doot doot doot
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I need to be smart and start thinking like all of you.

I don't really plan meals, because I'm a terrible cook (yeah, yeah... I should learn). When I go grocery-shopping, I'm in there forever because I go through every single aisle and pick out whatever looks good. Then I'll circle around again if I feel like my cart's too empty. I do this because I'm too lazy to buy groceries all the time, so when I do go, I try to get everything I need or is on sale.
 

crayola box

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I've tried meal planning a few times and it's worked out, but I just don't have the interest/wherewithal to regularly follow through on it. So what I typically do is buy a ton of pantry/fresh items every three weeks or so, then get dairy/produce every week. With this method, I can plan a meal the day before, thinking it through to make sure I have the ingredients or, if not, plan something else.

I get inspired by watching Food Network ... Rachel Ray, 5 Ingredient Fix, Chef Anne are some of my favorites. I'll watch an episode and have this raging desire to have whatever it is they're cooking for myself ... so I like a well-stocked pantry to be able to do this.

I also get inspiration from our garden, planning meals around whatever's fresh. That's fun; I love cooking with fresh food.

Once or twice a year I'll place a Penzey's order; fresh spices and herbs always tempt me into trying new things.

Maybe that's why I'm not good at meal planning in advance - I like to try new recipes or techniques, and, though I'm hugely a creature of habit when it comes to food, I'm not afraid to try new things (unless it's an unusual meat or seafood product. Not a big fan of experimenting with meat or seafood).
In my house growing up this is how my mom did it, and I love the flexibility it allows, so this is how I shopped when I first moved out. Turns out this doesn't work so well when you are living in NYC and are single, for one thing kitchens here are tiny so pantries are usually a single cabinet and as a single woman if I didn't plan in advance I found that I end up throwing alot of stuff out; because if I didn't cook something its not like there was someone else who would eat it etc.

But I totally get where you are coming from on being able to be spontaneous and trying new things, yeah its kinda hard knowing what you are going to want for an entire week, that's why I could never be one of those once a month cooking people, a week in advance is about it for me. But on the upside shopping with recipes in mind means I am never out of an ingredient I need, and since the whole week is basically laid out in front of me it's easier to make sure I am having a diverse and balanced meal as opposed to three days of mac and cheese.
BTW sooo jealous of your garden, its beautiful, you guys must put a lot of effort into it. Fresh veggies are so delicious all on their own, who even needs planning and recipes, so many of them just need to be sliced or steamed and yummm:eat1:

Kayrae: wow I am in awe that you are able to shop like that, I have tried and I end up with a hundred bucks of random groceries, none of which go together to make a proper meal!
 

TraciJo67

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I'm also very big into recycling meals. Sunday is my cooking day. I'll make several items and freeze or refrigerate them to have during the week. Today, I'm making a meat & tomato sauce for tonight's lasagna, and I'll use the sauce again for a pasta dish during the week. Tomorrow, I'll make a beef curry and will use the remaining rice for a veggie fried rice later on. We usually eat something in the slow cooker at least once a week as well -- I'll usually cut some vegetables the night before, then just dump them in the crock pot with a roast and some seasoning before leaving for work. I used to be the queen of take-out, since I really hate to cook, but I do at least attempt to have actual meals 4-5 times a week since we now have our little guy to think of.
 

olwen

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I'm actually kinda surprised how many people plan ahead. I usually have something in mind that I want to make that day and hope that what I want is on sale, or I see how much I have to spend and shop according to that, and if there is any left over then I get to have it for a day or two. I can only eat the same thing three days in a row, then I gotta have something else.
 

kayrae

doot doot doot
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ah well, I don't eat proper meals :/

Kayrae: wow I am in awe that you are able to shop like that, I have tried and I end up with a hundred bucks of random groceries, none of which go together to make a proper meal!
 

MisticalMisty

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I find that I'm able to keep a tighter reign on our budget and we have less spoilage if I plan ahead.

I sometimes get tired of the same thing..I am notorious for hating leftovers...ask my mom...but I'm trying to do what I can to make sure that we keep on budget.

I'm always reading recipes and try a new one at least once a week. Rob is a very picky eater..so I try to find things I know that he and I both will like.

I'm glad it's just the two of us..I can't even imagine trying to cook for a large brood.

 

Risible

Monkey Daze
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I forgot to mention that at least some of my meal planning is driven by grocery bargains. God, I love a sale and to use coupons ... I'll buy the stuff on sale and work meals around that.
 

lypeaches

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Heh...I hear ya Risible. I consider a sale item to be my own personal Iron Chef challenge.

I do loose menu planning...in that I generally plan for about 4 or 5 different dinners for each week, but I'm flexible as to what day I actually do them, to allow for specific cravings, bargain finds, and such. Friday night is always pizza, so that gives one other day for complete spontaneity. It seems to be the balance that works for me. If I don't plan at all, I find that I spend to much time in the day thinking about what I'm going to make that night.
 

Fuzzy

Just a dirty old man
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Spur of the moment, unplanned, ingredient hoarder. If it were up to me, I'd have chinese every day. (waitaminute.. I think I do..) I cook very well, and tend to focus only on the 500 or so recipes I know by heart. Or Spaghetti. :)
 

crayola box

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so after not really cooking for a while decided to be proactive and plan for the week, shopped on Thursday, cooked tonight:

-chicken soup with matzo balls
-two pans of roasted veggies (potato,parsnip,cauliflower,asparagus)
-baked chicken meatballs
-leek patties/cakes
-chopped salad (cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, carrots)
-matzoh brei

just realized that the weather is supposed to be springy and I made wintery food...
 

HottiMegan

I'm a fat geek!
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i have successfully meal planned for like 3 weeks. We have had little food waiting or spoilage. I am so proud of me. I have also managed not to go out to dinner with the family more than the once when my father in law was in town and desperately needed meat so we went out for breakfast.
I have been using a vegetarian crock pot cookbook a lot. I make the food while Alex is playing in the morning and it's ready when dinner time rolls around. It really helps since i'm usually really tired by the time dinner rolls around. Menu planning is also helpful for me so i don't have to say "i don't wanna cook, lets go out to eat!".
I happened to just see this thread as i was about to open a notepad and plan this week's menu so we could grocery shop tomorrow :)
 

spiritangel

AmandaClause
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I always do a rough menu plan, as I have to stick to a budget. Living on my own whatever I make other than a few simple things like stirfry or meat n veg tends to feed me for a few meals. I only do groceries once every two weeks so need to plan ahead somewhat, however there is usually room for a little chopping and changing or creativity, took chicken out to make a stir fry the other day and ended up making chicken fried rice instead. I have just started re stocking my basic supplies and cooking more from scratch again as opposed to using ready made sauces and the like. I always keep my plans reasonably flexable as long as there is enough to get me through the 14days ect.
 

Tracyarts

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I've been having to do a lot more meal planning lately. My husband and I made a pretty radical change in the kinds of things we buy and eat and as a result our monthly food expense nearly quadrupled but our monthly food budget stayed the same. That means that I really have to think out what all I am going to make over a 2 week period before I go shopping so we don't end up having to scavenge the pantry before the next payday. One of the things I am doing is planning meals that can carry leftovers over to at least one more meal and preferrably two. And that is taking a bit more planning than I am used to.

Tracy
 

Tracyarts

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" Tracy, out of curiosity, how did you guys change the way you eat? "

We wanted to eat more naturally and see just how far we could take it without feeling deprived or turning into food nazis. So, we picked up aspects of different food movements that sounded like good ideas to us so we look for things like locally grown, sustainable, humanely raised, organic, all natural, etc... and pick those things whenever possible. Since neither my husband nor I wanted to go vegetarian, finding natural and humanely raised meat, dairy, and eggs was a big challenge. The seed had been planted in my mind for quite some time as I was raised with a lot of natural food, but after watching Food Inc. and King Corn, along with reading a couple food activist books, I was ready to just go for it.

Tracy
 

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