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meal plan

The man and I go out to eat way too much. We know this. But we're sort of powerless to stop it.

When I was single, my meal planning went like this:

1) Get off work, stop by the store.
2) Buy groceries & cook.
4) Eat some, save/freeze the rest.
5) Leftovers for days!

The married plan has two options.
Option A:
1) Get off work, one of us stops by store.
2) Buy groceries & cook.
3) Man eats all the food.
4) Leftovers - maybe a lunch if we're lucky.

Option B:
1) Get off work, miss each other, more incentive to go straight home.
2) Neither of us feels like going back out after all that, since we don't live near grocery stores.
3) But we do live by restaurants!

My hippy sister told me that she and her man sit down every week and plan out their meals (?!) then go shopping once and it's all good. Other couples I know just stock up on processed crap, like freezer stuff... it saves money compared to going out, but not health.

So I'm open to suggestions here, from any of you who are good at doing home cooked things. Marc and I both enjoy cooking and eating home cooked foods, in theory. It's the planning and grocery shopping ideas we can't handle. Do you actually plan? Actually go to the store every day? Is there some way I could evolve to just not having to eat every three hours? Egads, when I was single I even used to wake up in the morning and make myself a sandwich for lunch... how'd that ever work?


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 22nd, 2008 12:25 am (UTC)
We generally plan four or five meals at a time. But we aren't fantastic cooks or anything. For example, we'll decide: Pierogies one night...pasta one night...Sloppy Joes one night...fish one night...then we'll go out...then maybe chili..." then we'll go back to the store and do it all over again, trying to vary it.

What we have a problem with the most I guess is variety. We can do ziti, tortellini with red sauce, fettuccine with low-fat white sauce, Sloppy Joes, tacos, pierogies, fish, stir-fry with asian dumplings, Pad Thai with tofu, chicken burgers, omelets with biscuits and bacon or breakfast sausage (yes, we do that for dinner sometimes) and honestly that's about it.
Feb. 22nd, 2008 12:26 am (UTC)
I like eating out. I hate the plague you gave me.
Feb. 22nd, 2008 01:08 am (UTC)
how did I give you the plague? I saw you for like ten minutes!
Feb. 22nd, 2008 01:23 am (UTC)
I don't know, but I'm really sick and I picked you to blame.
Feb. 22nd, 2008 12:37 pm (UTC)

Edited at 2008-02-22 12:39 pm (UTC)
Feb. 22nd, 2008 01:12 am (UTC)
What we do is:

a) take out $100 each on Monday to last the week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
b) We then take turns making dinner. We try to make enough to last for 2-3 days. Sometimes there's enough for dinner + lunch (leftovers) sometimes enough for 2 dinners, and lunch...depends.

We pick up the ingredients when we need them so that we don't have food going bad in the fridge. You have to make it work sometimes by taking the time to make lunch.

Sometimes we go out, but only if we have enough money saved up..this is more for debt reduction than anytyhing else.

Works for us - we each take turns cooking and whoever cooks doesn't clean which breaks out the work.
Feb. 22nd, 2008 01:40 am (UTC)
I don't do my grocery shopping until after the local ads come out each week. I go through the ads and figure out what items that we actually eat are at a good price. Then I buy extra of anything that can be frozen or stored for long amounts of time dry. I'm a big fan of buying in bulk. Lots of meat gets bought in bulk and frozen in smaller portions. There are also certain veggies that we always eat, and fruits we usually eat whatever is in season for a good price. That way we have lots of healthy snacky type foods around too.

I have a list of meal ideas that we enjoy eating- ranging from simple things to more complex and time consuming. This lets me look at it on a regular basis and have some ideas in mind of what I want to cook based on what we already have in the house. This keeps down from running to the store all the time. I don't officially do meal planning, but I usually have a night or two that I know what I'll be making, but it's always subject to change.

I almost always cook more than what we can eat or will eat for leftovers the next day so that I can freeze smaller portions for eating on a night I don't feel like cooking. I label it with what it is and when I put it in the freezer, so I can use it up accordingly.

I do grocery shopping probably once every 1-2 weeks and usually go to at least 2 different stores to purchase the stuff that's on sale.

This got really long, but hope it helps!
Feb. 22nd, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
I plan the meals for the next week on Friday evening, and go to the store as soon as my son wakes me up on Saturday morning, which is usually around 6:00. Gonna be awake anyway, and I get to avoid all the crazy people who are at the store on Saturday afternoons.

If I don't plan the meals, I still go to the store on Saturday morning and make things up as I go along. I usually buy more crap those weeks.
Feb. 22nd, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
This is mostly what my folks do, but since I've noticed myself dealing with food in the same way, I figured I'd pass it on.
The weekend is the big shopping trip, we get various meats and whatever of the veggies it's proven we like look good, and then on each night cook one from column A and one from column B, so there's some variety and surprise in flavor. Mostly it's meat with some seasoning sprinkled on it, cooked in the foreman grill thing and a steamed vegetable- brocollini, asparagus or brussle sprouts. Discounting the time to defrost the meat, it's about 30 total minutes of cooking, most of it uninvolved.
My favorite one-pan meal is stir-fried chicken sausage with peppers and onions; everything carmelizes nicely, but it's still moderately healthy.
I also like to keep around those boxed soups since they don't take up fridge space and are a good destination for leftover veggies that aren't quite enough to make a portion.

If I lived closer to the farmers' market I'd probably switch to shopping two or three times a week, and eat a lot more goat cheese.
Feb. 22nd, 2008 02:38 am (UTC)
oh goodness... i think after marriage that (meal planning) was one of my biggest changes!!

and no, I can't plan that far ahead either. we usually go shopping for groceries once in two weeks or sometimes even three. We buy a variety of things, that we both like, or one of us likes and other thinks is okay, and some items neither loves but is healthy. Our shelves are usually stocked of spices and other items. So some nights we have italian, some nights Indian, and some Mexican. yum. I just go with what we feel like eating.

And I just cook the most likely to perishable items first and go that way. I cook for like 3-4 people in one go (we are two) and so it gives us some leftovers. Hubby also packs his lunch to work and so that saves some money.
Feb. 22nd, 2008 12:42 pm (UTC)
This is exactly what we do too!

1. Grocery shop every 2 weeks. We do it on a weekend, so we can both pick out stuff we like. Some stuff is perishable (fresh vegetables, fruit, meat), others are canned stuff (tomato sauce, sauerkraut, soup), and other stuff is frozen (not TV dinners you're talking about-- we actually freeze some meat, pierogis, dumplings, vegetables, etc).

2. I cook for about 4 servings, so we eat 2 servings, and put 2 away. That way I only have to cook half as many meals as I need to.
Feb. 22nd, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)
i cook for me and my roommates sometimes, and what i usually do is every couple of shopping trips buy a ton of staple items that will last: chicken/beef/turkey to freeze or to make that night, tomato sauces, diced tomatoes, beans, canned veggies, fresh veggies, tortillas, rice, pastas, cheeses... things like that that are easy to make things out of. my favorites:
diced tomatoes + meat + canned veggies + salsa + chili powder = chili, serve with rice.
thawed chicken from the freezer + brown sugar + paprika + chili powder + olive oil = brown sugar chicken, serve with cinnamon'd baked sweet potatoes.
leftover beef or chicken from anything can go into a tortilla as a burrito
Feb. 22nd, 2008 09:29 am (UTC)
My current solution to the problem "person I live with has eaten my lunch from the fridge" is to put portions in tupperware boxes and write "Jo's lunch" on them in marker pen. I have not yet thought of what I will do if she eats them anyway.
Feb. 22nd, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
We attempt to 'plan' and buy food for 10 meals for a 7 day week. then we have some choices. We always end up with leftovers, and we kinda try to plan for that too, but we don't stress on it. Then one week a month (usually the same week that all the bills come due) is "use up all this crap in the house" week. We go to Costco once or twice a month and get a lot of things in bulk so that they last a few months.

Lately, it's been crazy, and we've not been planning meals, so we end up eating chicken nuggets from the freezer or something. It's much better when we plan.

Feb. 22nd, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
Every week Jen and I take turns making a recipe we've never tried before. Jen goes one week and I go the next. The dinner can happen any time that week but we usually do it on the weekend. We make little menus and put them on the fridge!
We both love cooking so that helps :)
Feb. 22nd, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC)
We try to limit ourselves to going out once a week (usually fridays), and shop on the weekends for food for the entirety of the week. We used to go out a lot more because it's easier (and difficult to find food we both like) but it was way to expensive and we both ended up broke.

We don't cook much, though. Usually one night is spaghetti with sauce and "put it in the oven to heat it up" garlic bread. Usually one night is a hamburger helper. We do nachos (tortilla chips, beans, cheese and jalapenos heated up in the microwave), we do hotdogs with macaroni and cheese, we do chicken/tortilla soup (that's especially easy and delicious!). Ummmm... rice-a-roni with sausage in it is always good. Stir fry... green bean casserole, yeah. Just ... easy stuff. Cut down our food bill by hundreds of dollars doing it this way. And you can go out to a fancier place that once a week to get a little variety in.
Feb. 22nd, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
Totally hear you about A-3. Seriously, it's unbelievable how much more my boyfriends have eaten than I do.
Feb. 22nd, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC)
We do both. We plan our meals. He doesn't mind left overs for lunch the next day, and I do, so he has left overs and I get frozen dinners for lunches. But I usually eat out for lunch on Monday's and Friday's because I can't stand staying in the office.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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