Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Scandalously Easy Meal Planning
I really do not enjoy planning out the main dishes I'll cook each night. When that meal planning day comes, I think, "Oh no, not again," and it just makes me want to hide.
BUT--I have finally solved this dilemna. And I like my solution so much it makes me giddy. I've been doing this for about three months now, and I actually love this kind of meal planning! I look forward to it.
I'll tell you what I do. (Even though I am a little embarrassed about how easy it is.) Each week, just plan ONE main dish for that week. Yes, one. Choose something that can be prepared/assembled and then frozen, or something that stores dry and takes basically no work to throw together. And buy SEVEN days' worth of that food. (Or six days or however many days per week you cook a supper meal.)
After few weeks (yes, you have to wait a few weeks for this method to work--no, you don't eat the same thing every night!), your freezer and pantry will be stocked with something you can just pull out and use for supper. And you only have to think of ONE meal to add to your stockpile each week.
I've found this method also helps me get a good perspective on how economical a particular meal is, and if it's worth the money. When you're making six or seven times the quantity, you can really see if it fits in your budget or not.
If you want an example of a main dish that I've done, I'll tell you one of the most shockingly simple and cheap ones: 13 bean soup. I bought 7 days' worth of dried beans. I soaked them all overnight and then froze each meal's worth, along with seasonings, in gallon bags. Then just throw them in the crockpot with some water (and anything else you feel like) on the day you want to eat them. They even seem to cook quicker because they have been frozen. Add some homemade bread or muffins. Now that is one cheap and easy meal! Later that night, be sure to peek in the freezer and see the six other bags of bean soup waiting to be used in subsequent weeks. Smile and sigh contentedly.