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FP4HLOSER Posts: 968
4/4/13 2:33 P

I usually plan on Friday or Saturday after I look over the sale previews for the store we shop at the most. We usually will shop after church Sunday mornings since the place we like best is closer to there then our home. I wish more stores would offer previews.

IVFNURSE2 SparkPoints: (1,563)
Fitness Minutes: (871)
Posts: 35
4/3/13 7:19 P

I only plan one "new" meal each week. This way, I'm sure that most nights we will have something edible!

I meal plan once a week with the calendar in front of me - my kids are in sports so I need to think about what time we need to be at the field/gym/dance studio, etc....

Then, like my mom did, I pick out the following types of meals:
chicken or pork
red meat (ground beef, lamb or lean steak)
fish again
breakfast for dinner

SRAPP707 Posts: 106
4/3/13 2:34 P

I'm giving Fresh 20 a try:

4/3/13 2:09 P

I usually start planning on Wednesdays when the new grocery ads come out. I created an excel sheet so that I can plan, write out family activities, needed grocery items and things to do (make blueberry muffins, early prep. items...) I usually go grocery shopping on Saturday mornings with my youngest daughter. Mostly our meals rotate through several of our tried-and-true recipes. I am hoping to branch out more because I am very tired of them. I am a good planner but not as good at executing the plan. I'm hoping that switching some of our regular recipes with new ones will help.

We generally try to have a Meatless Monday, Crockpot Wednesday and family pizza night on Fridays (my autistic son loves that predictabilty of the Friday pizza, and it is something that he will eat with us).

I have several cookbooks that I can look through, but mainly I look through the spark recipes (meal planning tool is fun) and pinterest (LOVE!!) to try and find ideas.

Good luck! You can do this!!!

YOJULEZ SparkPoints: (15,981)
Fitness Minutes: (120)
Posts: 2,171
4/3/13 11:22 A

i also thought of something else. I don't do this, but a friend of mine does, and I think a lot of our mothers did this. Basically, designate each night as a certain "theme" night... like Chicken on Monday, Fish on Tuesday, Meatless on Wednesday, Mexican on Thursday etc etc. that way you don't have to worry about planning 5 chicken meals in a row.

CBLENS SparkPoints: (47,498)
Fitness Minutes: (16,557)
Posts: 1,220
4/3/13 6:51 A

Wish I'd be a better planner. I need to make it a goal.

SVETLANA08 SparkPoints: (19,329)
Fitness Minutes: (41,553)
Posts: 285
4/2/13 11:09 P

Thanks for all your great ideas. I was actually able to plan some meals and will also try buying things on sale and wing it a couple of nights so I'm not so overwhelmed. I also have to remember I can make some simple meals and not try a new recipe every night. I am going to Whole Foods tomorrow (which is a splurge because it's about 40 minutes away) and will have to remember to not buy too much produce. I always get excited at all the pretty colors and sometimes can't use it all before it goes bad. Thanks again.

NIRERIN Posts: 14,297
4/1/13 10:51 P

i don't plan meals out for the week, but i do keep commonly used ingredients on hand. so while i don't say monday breakfast x, monday lunch y, monday dinner z, and so forth i do plan to have multi meal ingredients on hand. so monday morning i might look in the fridge and notice that i need to start using lettuce up. so i made a salad and had it with old bay shrimp and potatoes. and i'll have the rest on a sandwich tomorrow. then i might poke my head in and see that i need to use up my zucchini, so i'll spend the day with that though on the backburner. red lentils with zucchini and cauliflower is one option, shrimp and angel hair and zucchini is another, curry is a third, or cream of zucchini soup or i could make zucchini bread. i'll mull over those all day tomorrow and have what sounds best when i get home to actually cook. heck, i may wake up in the morning and decide i want to have zucchini in an omelet and it might not make it to dinner. but that's is what i do. i look at what i have and what needs to be used up first [generally one ingredient, but no more than two] and think about all the different things i could have with what i have on hand. then i make whatever sounds best at the moment when it comes time to cook.
there are a few keys in doing this. one is i never buy something that i can't think of at least three uses for offhand. if i can't hit that threshold, it doesn't go into the basket. i can look up as many recipes as i want when i get home, but when it comes to purchasing, i have to be able to think of things that sound good offhand. two is i limit the quantity of fresh vegetables i purchase. i try and make sure that i'm not buying more than 3 days' worth so that they don't go bad if i push using them up for a few days because i get busy. so i do keep a little more frozen on hand and rely on it a little more than i would like, but the balance is i don't waste. third is i have a lot of favorite staples that are really flexible in terms of what i can put in. pasta plus a veggie or two plus some protein plus a sauce. curries. lasagna. stew. shepard's pie. fourth is i rely heavily on those staples most of the week. i already know how to make them and that i like them. plus, i'm in the habit of using them. at some point i did have to tweak them to make them reasonable, but once you get them adjusted to where they should be it's great to be able to cook without recipe or much thought. so it was taking my backup meals and figuring out easy ways to add more vegetables and reduce fat and salt. fifth is i plan on no more than one or two new recipes in a week. when i get busy, learning a new cooking technique or style or having to adjust flavors takes a backseat to needing to get food in me. whenever i try extensive new meal plans, i get bogged down. one or two i can fit in somewhere in the course of a week, but any more than that and i am just buying too many ingredients and not getting any use of them.

MICHELLEXXXX SparkPoints: (12,272)
Fitness Minutes: (5,920)
Posts: 3,790
4/1/13 10:26 P

I generally plan according to budget/sales, and I usually stick to what I have planned.

4/1/13 10:08 P

I am a single. So what I used to do is cook one meal and if it says 6 servings I would divide it into 6 containers and eat it for lunch and supper until it is gone and then I would cook another meal. Now I changed it up a bit in that I cook a lunch divide it up and put some in the fridge and some in the freezer, I do the same with the main dish that I cook and the side dish that I cook. The main dish might be 4 servings, the side dish 6 servings and the lunch 10 servings. This means that I'm preparing usually just one dish at a time and I get some variety as opposed to 6 meals in a row with no variation.
For example this week is Tilapia with leeks & cauliflower au gratin & 2 mini cucumbers or 2 days, Tilapia with leeks & cauliflower au gratin & 1 cup of carrots for 2 days, and then a new main dish with leeks & cauliflower au gratin & carrots for another 2 days, then it will be a new side dish. I plan the new menu item the day before I need to cook it so that I have time to run to the grocery store and grab fresh organic ingredients.
Being a single person, fresh is important. If I buy more than what I will be using then I have too much wastage. Wastage is wasted food & wasted money. Nobody wants that, do they?

Edited by: JINJERGURL at: 4/1/2013 (22:08)
JCWIAKALA Posts: 347
4/1/13 9:51 P

First I look at what I have going on for the week. I stay busy, so I think about how much time I have available. I'm also very budget conscious, so I plan my meals based on what proteins are on sale (or I already have in my freezer). There are several meals I have weekly: eggs, turkey bacon, and toast or potatoes and some form of Mexican (tacos, fajitas, nachos). I plan for leftovers or reworking a previous meal, so overall I have fewer meals to cook.

Monday: eggs, bacon, and potatoes (after the gym)
Tues: whole chicken in the crock pot, side of green beans
Wed: broiled fish tacos
Thurs: chicken tortilla soup with leftover chicken
Fri: out/at a friend's
Sat: leftover soup
Sun: a brand new recipe (from Sparkpeople, Pinterist, any website you chose)

That's just a quick idea, but basically you're using recipes that you're familiar with, using the leftovers to make another dish, have room for leftovers, have room for going out, and have a day when you get to be creative. You don't need to be creative 7 days a week.

I understand what you're going through--this whole eating healthy thing is a bit overwhelming when you start out. Focus on reworking existing recipes that you're used to making, only making them healthier.

YOJULEZ SparkPoints: (15,981)
Fitness Minutes: (120)
Posts: 2,171
4/1/13 9:12 P

I start planning for the following week (Saturday-Friday) on the previous Monday. Throughout the week I make tweaks to the plan if something comes up that looks better, but the plan becomes "set" on Friday since I shop on Friday evening/Saturday morning. I have a large arsenal of recipes saved on Pinterest, and often I will pick a cookbook to cook from at least once a week for a month or two. Then, I think about what I already have in my freezer or pantry, and we have going on, and even look at the weather forecast to see what the weather might be like so I'm not planning to grill something if it's supposed to rain etc. For Sunday or Monday night, I try to pick something that makes at least 4-6 servings and reheats well.... skillet meals, pasta dishes, casseroles etc. That way I will have the leftovers for at least a few lunches at the beginning of the week. I try to do another meal on Tuesday nights that has leftovers too.

I also try not to plan the same protein in a row (like chicken 6 times like you mentioned). But sometimes I can't get around it because of what I have on hand, so I at least try to do them in different "styles". Like, tonight I'm making a middle eastern type chicken dish with boneless thighs along with rice, but tomorrow I'm making herb roasted chicken with bone-in leg quarters, with herb roasted potatoes and asparagus. So, they're both chicken, but they're different enough so it doesn't feel like we're eating the same thing too many times in a row.

For sides, I look to see what's on sale. The stores put their ads out on Wednesdays, and I just use the online ones. So, say green beans are on sale. 2-3 of my side dishes that week will be green beans, and I just try to prepare them in different ways. I don't have as much variety with my sides though... I leave that to the main dishes.

When I'm doing my meal planning, I also build the recipes in the recipe builder on sparkrecipes. That way I'm not scheduling two high calorie meals for the same day... usually I can swing one but not two. But, I've been at this for awhile now so I can tell just by looking at a recipe if I can have it or not.

I organize my plans on Pinterest (have individual boards for "this week's meals" and "next week's meals"), but if you don't use that, you can just print out a calendar and use that. Do it in pencil so you can move things around once you see you have 5 chicken meals in a row.

As for not wanting to eat what I've planned... well, that happens. Most of the time I just stick with the plan, since I hate going to the store on weeknights. But like 2 weeks ago I was sick, so I reworked a few dinners to be easier to make and just used pantry stuff.

It is overwhelming at first, but after you get into a groove and figure out a system that works out well for you (along with assembling a good collection of go to recipes), it becomes very easy and doesn't take much time at all. Good luck! If it helps, I post my weekly meal plans along w/ explanations and calorie counts in my blog, usually on Thursday afternoons.

Edited by: YOJULEZ at: 4/1/2013 (21:16)
SLIMMERKIWI SparkPoints: (253,455)
Fitness Minutes: (41,531)
Posts: 27,134
4/1/13 8:09 P

I don't actually plan my meals at all, other than plan that they be healthy with plenty of fruit and veges. I know that heaps of people can't work this way, but I go more by what my taste-buds feel like on a given day. I am fortunate in that I have loads of different soups/casseroles in the freezer in single serve containers, and as I prefer veges to rice or pasta, and have a fridge, freezer and cupboard full of veges I don't have a problem - just grab what I feel like. My pantry is loaded with cans of tomatoes, tuna, salmon, lentils, etc., so I don't run out of options there, either, because my supplies never even start to run dry. When I start the last or second to last of something I buy more in, unless they are on a good special and I buy them in anyway.


4/1/13 7:39 P

I plan meals for the week on Thursday night and either shop Friday or Saturday.

I make the plan based on the amount of time I have to cook for the family. Do I need a meal that I can prepare in 10 minutes, 30 minutes, etc

I will only test 1-2 new recipes weekly. And I place them on days when I have more time to focus on a new recipe. If they are good, then they get saved and can be used at other times.

I keep a running list of recipes that work for my family so I constantly have my regular, go-to list for ideas.

I do keep a well stocked refrigerator, freezer and pantry for staples, emergency changes, etc.

SP Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Becky

SVETLANA08 SparkPoints: (19,329)
Fitness Minutes: (41,553)
Posts: 285
4/1/13 6:59 P

How do you plan your meals for the week? I sit down on Sunday with the best intention to plan healthy meals for the week and make a shopping list and then I get overwhelmed. I try looking at magazines and online for new recipes and start writing things down and discover I planned 6 chicken meals for the week or I can't figure out what to serve as a side dish. There has to be an easier way to do this. When I'm planning on a full stomach, sometimes nothing sounds good but when I'm just a little hungry all the food pictures send me running to the kitchen to eat. So basically I end up with nothing planned and make bad spur of the moment choices each day.

Another question, what do you do when you've planned a meal but when it's time to cook it you really don't want the soup you had planned to make? Do you just eat what you planned regardless or do you make something different?

I would love to hear your strategies.

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