My big project this week is trying to figure out my meal planning strategy. I’ve never been one to meal plan in much detail. When I go shopping, I have an idea of what I might be cooking that week, but nothing concrete. It helps that when dealing with only whole foods, meals tend to blend into one another. A roasted chicken leads to meat, drippings and stock, which can lead to sandwiches, a gravy base for a casserole, and soup. Dried beans turn into stew, which can then be blended into a thick sauce that is great over rice or eggs. Though this ‘method’ has worked well for me so far, I am looking to cut our trips to the grocery store and to further reduce the amount of leftovers that end up being either tossed in the trash or fed to the chickens. Enter: The Monthly Meal Plan
I first read about monthly meal planning over at Passionate Homemaking. Yes, it takes hours to put together, but it doesn’t need to be all at once. I have been working on mine for the past few days, whenever I have a few extra moments. The most difficult part for me is determining how much leftovers a meal will leave. It’s just the two of us; with the average recipe serving 4-6 people, we always have extra. I suppose it will take a month of trial and error to figure it out. I’m going to make careful notes about portions, leftovers, and cost per meal. I’m also throwing around the idea of purposefully making big batches of meals to freeze, then eating only that frozen food during the last week of every month. It would be a nice little vacation from cooking!
Halfway through writing this post, I discovered Plan to Eat. It is a FANTASTIC meal planning website. You can upload your own recipes or add them from around the internet. You basically create your own cookbook, then simply drag and drop recipes onto a calendar. You can plan weekly, biweekly, monthly, whatever you want! The best, most awesomest part is that it also creates a shopping list for you. An exact list of the specific items you need for your meal plan. I am so excited about that, because I am one of those people that cannot help but buy extra stuff when I go shopping. Having a list that I know for a fact has every single thing I need, no way that I could have ‘forgot’ something, will definitely make it an easier, and cheaper, trip.
So that’s where I am right now, trying to upload as many of my usual recipes as possible to Plan to Eat.
Do you meal plan? What is your strategy?