making menus.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


you've heard it before, but it comes down to meal planning. since i loathe the word meal planning (as it sounds like a very tedious task) we're calling it making menus. proceed... 

get your groceries on saturday (or whatever) and don't go back to the store until next week. how? prep work.

1. check your family's sched for the week. some nights you may be having dinner alone, cooking for 3, or eating out.

2. start your grocery list by writing down what meals will be cooked. check the recipes and go from there. 

3. keep the grocery list on your iphone, ipad, blackberry, etc. it's always with you and you can delete/add items as needed. make menus on the subway. make menus on the flight home. make menus while making love.

4. share the menu with your family

5. cook more than you need. freeze it. eat the leftovers for lunch. take photos of it for your blog.

6. cook ahead of time. sunday nights usually free? cook a few meals ahead of time. or at least do some prep work. chop the veggies. grate some cheese. cook the pasta sauce. mix the vinaigrette. 

i know, i know. we don't have time for this do we? it's about priorities. i have made it a priority to cook wholesome meals with actual real food ingredients. bow down to me. gag. i get it.

but get this: i don't make it a priority to go to the gym. i don't even belong to a gym. i get my exercise by walking all over nyc and a little yoga in my teeny living room. 

to each their own. we all take care of ourselves in very different ways. find what works for you... 

that being said, what works for you?

ps: hodge podge = leftovers = bagel anyone?

36 comments:

jillian m. said...

Love this! I like to freeze things like tomato sauce and turkey burgers, specifically to be used for the days I come home extremely tired from work and don't feel like making a big production.

Great idea about sharing the menu with other household members. Bob and I like to put up our menu on Goggle Docs and share it with each other, so that if any one of us needs to make a change to it, we can. What's great about using GD, is that I can access the document from work or my phone.Super convenient!

Emily said...

I love that you call it hodge podge! In my house growing up, my mother called it FFYS. Fend for yourself. :) Good list of reminders, though. I usually managed to plan through Thursday then give up until Sunday!

rebecca said...

jillian-
google docs is a really great idea since you can actually share the menu.

Mel said...

Love this! I only started meal planing four weeks ago. Some of this advice is just what I as needing. Like putting the list on my phone....why haven't I thought about that........jeez

:)

Kyla said...

Oh I love this! I like the idea of splitting up the grocery list into sections of the store. I sort of "meal plan" in my head but I should probably start writing stuff down...

Elizabeth Harwell said...

you are making andrew's case for iphones even more convincing; i can't let him see this post! (i'm holding onto my 4 year old samsung for dear life).

this really was helpful. thank you, friend.

jen said...

I've been doing this for years and refuse to even enter the grocery store with a menu and a grocery list. I keep the list on my phone, separated just like this into sections of the grocery store. I put an X next to an item when it goes in my cart or if I don't need it that week. I work from home so I don't really worry about prepping ahead for the week since I can do it at any point during the day. It does take effort to plan and eat this way, but it's the only way we can eat the kind of healthful real foods we need.

Elizabeth Harwell said...

ps... here is a really great (and really easy) recipe for a whole wheat pizza. i make my own pizza once a week now and we all love this yummy crust.
http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/04/01/recipe_homemade_whole_wheat_pizza/

i think it's best with spinach, bacon, and onions but that's how i roll.

rebecca said...

elizabeth-
thanks for the recipe. what a great idea for a blog.

ps: you inspired this post. :)

the sassy kathy said...

um very very impressive. i think i tried doing this a few times and it dissolved into failure very quickly haha. i'm hoping once the new thrill of nyc culinary overload wears off (how long does that take? my wallet hopes soon) i'll get back to actually cooking on weeknights.

Kim said...

This is a great way to plan out menus. We do a little of this in our house, but it's more like, "what's going on this week?" OK, let's eat soup three nights in a row and make a big salad the other two. It works so far, but it would be nice to mix things up. And yes, Sunday nights usually are free, so I have no excuse!

Atsuko said...

I like how you categorize each item above. It is a good idea because at a supermarket, I often time end up going back and force a fresh product section and a meat section. I do not know why they are not right next to each other... Thank you for the idea.

Hannah said...

I've been doing this since I graduated from college and honestly, I don't think I have the time NOT to do it! It seems so crucial to my sanity that I don't have to think every day about what I will eat AND I only have the go to the grocery store once a week.

Rob and Jen said...

love seeing your dietiitan roots coming through. :) I especially loved your prior posts. If only I could convince my patients that it really is THAT easy to meal plan and prepare budget friendly, healthy meals.

Quindome said...

Such a great, handy post. I love that you are honest about a hodge podge night and think that is equally important in meal planning, knowing that sometimes you won't cook.

rebecca said...

rob and jen-
you mean the daily muse isn't a hospital reading requirement? thanks for the encouraging words.

Alex said...

I get stressed thinking about creating a meal plan, but I am always so glad I do. Living alone makes cooking a little bit more challenging, so laying it all out there for a couple of weeks is such a huge help!

What Would a Nerd Wear said...

ha, i love the hodge-podge bagel! when christopher works late or plays soccer in the evening, i go for my single-girl meals: yogurt with fruit, peanut butter toast, or garlicky pasta. they aren't beautiful healthy round meals but sometimes i love the times i can just nibble like a bird all evening.

Lucent Imagery said...

I call it hodge-podge too! I think I got the saying from my mum. I don't know of anyone else who says it. Wonder where it comes from originally? I try to always overcook for freezing or lunch the next day. I tried buying fresh food once a week, but I found that our plans often change to a spontaneous dinner out because we live so close to everything. Now that we have mid-week markets too and all the local shops, I just keep non-perishable stocked and grab fresh food as I need it on a morning walk with my dog and husband. I love grocers that open early!

Chessa! said...

a fantastic idea. I think I should use this method...but that would make way too much sense. :)

Stephanie said...

I've just started doing this and not only does it save time, but I've been saving about $20 a week on my grocery bill. These are GREAT tips! : )

P.S. I hope you and your nieces try the crayon hearts. It was really fun!

in dreams said...

just found out i have mice in my stove. (well, we um 'disposed' of two, but who knows how many more? yuck.) this means if you have a kitchen you can cook in right now, i'm officially jealous. we're doing takeaway tonight...! :(

Lonely Wife Project said...

I used to make a weekly menu which seriously simplified my life and then my husband went back to school and I started living on toast and hummus most nights. Trying to get back on the cooking bandwagon. This is good motivation.

rebecca said...

stephanie-
yes! i didn't even mention that making menus saves moola.

in dreams-
mice in your oven sounds like a nightmare. take out indeed.

Gaby [The Vault Files] said...

Planning meals ahead not only saves you money but a lot of groceries not to go bad. My sister in law and her husband are pros in this matter, I've always admired that about them. Love how you organized it!

Kayla Poole said...

We're pretty diligent with our grocery budget/food list. Although, I tend to love hodgepodge nights the best. And any night with wine.

Carolyn said...

My dad and I started weight watchers and we've found we HAVE to plan in order to eat proportionally and healthy. My favorite saying they tell us at our meetings is "failing to plan is like planning to fail".

Chrissi Holt said...

We started doing this a while back and it's perfect there's always plenty for the workday lunch too ... And it's all healthy love it !!!

rebecca said...

carolyn-
failing to plan is like planning to fail.... love this catchphrase. thanks.

Shoko said...

This is AMAZING. Seeing as I eat basically the same things every day, I could probably benefit from some planning. Thanks for the inspiration!

rachel kirk peterson said...

wow, what a great idea. it looks simple, but it's hard, so bravo. such a great way to save money and eat well.

Samara said...

I know I'm just adding to the chorus here, but truly: THIS IS FLAT OUT AMAZING. I just sent the link to my bf with a note that said: "How amazing is this?! Can we try it out for next week? Pretty please?"

PS -- I'm ALL about the hodge podge on nights when my bf is in class. My current standby (leftover veggies with quinoa and a fried egg on top) actually came from the comments section of your quinoa post.

Ashley said...

I need to start doing this. But really.

I officially love your blog :)

Lauren said...

Amen! I have been making a weekly menu for years now and it takes SO much stress off of me-never having to decide what to make for dinner at 5pm when I'm hungry and tired is amazing. Also- I totally hear you about priorities! We all have the same amount of time and you just have to choose to use it in the way that makes the most fulfilling life for you and your family.

Margaret said...

When I saw you mention Hodge Podge I was curious to learn your meaning. In Nova Scotia where I grew up Hodge Podge is a local dish of fresh-from-the-garden vegetables (typically new potatoes, carrots, green beans, peas) cooked in lots of real butter and milk. The butter and milk make a delicious creamy alfredo sauce. It's so simple and immediately takes me back to my childhood.

Just stumbled upon your blog and love your beauty tips and look forward to more health and wellness posts as well.

Katie said...

I love this, but if I try to plan it seems like we always end up getting invited out or have a change of plans and then sadly, wasted food...am I the only one?? Maybe I need to be less social? Or grow up?
Luckily, the grocery store is under my apt building!

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