meal planning

There is not much I’m OCD about.
The Soldier might beg to differ, but I have enough OCD friends to be certain that I cannot be categorized as OCD.
I have very few routines that are so engraved that I can’t function without them.
I have to brush my teeth immediately before taking a shower,
I have to have a glass of water to go to bed,
and I have to plan my meals every week.

I seriously don’t know how people function without meal planning.
OK, that’s a bit over stated.
For the lucky group of Americans who live within walking distance of a market with good produce I totally understand why you wouldn’t meal plan.
{doesn’t that scenario just sound dreamy? cooking on a whim based on what you’re craving and the ingredients available. swoon}
For the bulk for people the super harsh statement still stands.

My meal planning isn’t as rigid as some.
I’ve seen lots-o-ladies in the blogosphere who plan their meals for an entire month.
I can’t imagine that that much planning is freeing in any way.
Seriously, are you bound and handcuffed to that menu?
Because if you are, what happens when someone gets sick or the Army says your hubby has to work super late?
How do you keep produce fresh that long?
Will I be required to use cream-of-something soup? Because that’s a deal breaker folks.
So to the month long meal plan I say, “Hang the code, hang the rules. They’re more like guidelines anyway.”
{anyone? anyone? pirates of the caribbean: the curse of the black pearl}

So this is how I manage our meals.
On our fridge are 4 things.
That’s it. Any more and I’ll twitch.

A timer, a sharpie, my All Out Of pad, and a paint swatch listing our meals for the week.
Three of those should be fairly self-explanatory.
When we are out of stuff we use the sharpie to mark it on the All Out Of pad.
{revolutionary, i know}
The timer is used to time activities that need to be timed.
The paint swatch has 7 different colors, conveniently the same number of days in a week.
I write our meals for the week on each of the colors and that is what we use as a reference for the week.

I have to plan my meals for the week, but really it’s just me committing to 7 meals.
I shop based on those meals (and our standard breakfast and lunch fodder) and then cook what I feel like on the day of.
The meals based on the most perishable produce are generally cooked at the beginning of the week.
We eat cereal, or toast and fruit for breakfast every morning.
We eat leftovers or sandwiches for lunch every afternoon.
This make everything super simple.

The plan not only goes onto the paint swatch, it also goes into my phone.
I have a nifty little app on my iPhone called MealBoard.
It allows me to put recipes into the app, plan meals based on a calendar and then it will assemble my grocery list based on what I have planned.

So that was literally my list from this past Saturday’s planning.
{we do eat on tuesdays. it is our gospel community night. we didn’t have that all squared away till monday this week}
When I put a recipe in I also put all the accompanying sides including veggies.

Before I hit the commissary I “shop” my pantry and fridge to see what I already have on hand.
This keeps me from making assumptions at the commissary and ending up with 10 extra jalapeños.
{you think i am joking. i kid not. i’m always in a pepper panic}
I also make sure that breakfast, lunch and snack supplies are on the list.
We don’t really snack much, the kids get a snack after nap and they are allowed fruits and veggies whenever they want them.
I never impulse buy at the grocery store.
I might buy one too many of something we already need, but I never just chuck random stuff in the cart.
I have to function within a fairly strict budget which doesn’t allow for impulse buys or really many processed foods.
The only paper product we buy is toilet paper and I make all of my own cleaners so I rarely am buying a non-food item at the commissary.
I cook from scratch nearly 100% of the time, we buy a lot in bulk, we eat very little meat/pork and all that combined keeps our food budget super low.

So that’s how I plan and keep us organized, on budget and fed.
Happy Wednesday!

  1 comment for “meal planning

  1. Christine
    09.21.2011 at 17:13

    I too am a meal planner. I have a cute little laminated pots and pans graphic where I put our meals for the week. I seriously don’t understand how people grocery shop without meals and lists in mind.

    I am downloading that app.

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