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Saturday, January 19, 2013

weekly meal plan

I have saved quite a bit of money since I started planning meals and doing a focused shopping once a week.
Plus, meals tend to be a little more interesting, since there is time to think ahead to when in the week I will have time for cooking, prepping, and baking after-school snacks.

We had fallen into the lazy habits of many parents around the world, catering to speed and the bottom line in meal planning. Many, many years of meals such as plain pasta, raw carrots or bell peppers, a glass of milk, and an omelette or handful of nuts (all the males in my family are vegetarian--I am not). So, so, so boring.

One of my boys is a very picky eater. Very picky. As in, plain foods not touching kind of picky. Luckily for his health, he loves tofu, nuts, and fruit and will eat many types of raw vegetables, including (when pressured) salad. The other boy used to be a fairly picky eater, but has developed a more sophisticated palate in the last few years and also dislikes too much repetition. These boring meals were driving him (as well as Minou and I) crazy.

So....I have added a few more dishes into our regular rotation. These include:

  • bean and cheese enchiladas or enchilada casserole
  • vegetarian curry with tofu, carrots, and potatoes (YUM)
  • lentils cooked with sauteed onion and garlic
  • pureed vegetable soup with whatever I can throw into it for the adults (my boys will not eat soup), usually carrots, potatoes, turnips, leeks, tomato sauce, & leafy greens like chard or kale
  • basque skillet beans, made with spinach and tomatoes
  • orzo pasta with sauteed vegetables and parmesan

I try to always add a salad or sliced raw veggies, plus a vegetable soup, to the main dish for our evening meal.
I buy fruit, milk, yogurt, and vegetables during the weekend shopping trip, and then pick more up as needed during the week (or ask Minou to do so).

We mostly eat rolled oats for breakfast, sometimes with brown sugar and raisins added, so I make sure that we have those on hand plus brown rice, peanut butter, whole wheat sandwich bread, jam, and whole grain pasta. 

I bake muffins for after-school snacks, and add as many fruits and nuts as I can (plus a few extra eggs) for nutrition.

I think this system has helped me be more organized and avoid the dreaded "What in the world can we have for dinner?" or frustrating last-minute 5:30 pm grocery shopping trips (or plain pasta for dinner). I can also try to plan meals around what we already have in the cupboard, just looking at what needs to be added to make a dish, which lets us spend out and save money. My goal is to keep our monthly food budget under $450, which is a challenge with hungry teenage boys in the house.

This morning I made: vegetable soup, vegetarian lasagna, and walnut-chocolate-chip muffins.

Do you pick things up day to day, or do a big weekly (or even monthly) shopping trip?

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