Thursday, February 24, 2011

menu planning Q&A

wow! i absolutely loved hearing from all of you yesterday about menu planning and the obstacles that keep you from it. i know those obstacles! i was there, too. and i truly want to help you. having a firm grip on the "what's for dinner" thing is good.

i want to address some of your questions and comments, and hopefully help you take control of your meal planning.

1. "i want to, but i simply can't get into the habit." i've heard it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. that's 3 weeks. if you can plan your menus weekly for three weeks, maybe it'll become a habit? what keeps me going is knowing how miserable i am on days when i don't know what's for dinner. i'm miserable, my kids are miserable, and my husband isn't too happy either. it's a lot of extra work, yes, but to me it is so worth it. put Menu Plan on your to-do list. try it for 21 days.

2. "when do you shop?" i shop on Sunday afternoons or evenings. typically after church we come home for lunch and put the little one down for nap. that's when i start my meal planning, coupon clipping, and list making. this process takes me maybe 30-45 minutes, but i'm relaxed about it. meaning, i'm distracted and usually doing laundry and dishes while thinking of meals. if i know Bubba will be napping for a while, i'll take advantage and go to the grocery store without him, leaving DaddyHall at home with him. sometimes i take BigGirl with me. if Bubba isn't napping, i'll take him with me to the store and leave BigGirl at home. so when i go to the store i'm either alone or i take one child. taking both children with me requires more patience than i usually have on tap.

3. "where do you grocery shop?" two stores: Target and Costco. Target on Sundays and Costco as needed, which is about every other week. we get our meat from a local farm about quarterly.

4. "how much time do you spend clipping coupons?" not much. i'm not extreme couponer by any means. we don't take the newspaper, so i don't have all the flyers and inserts to deal with. i look for coupons online specifically for the products and brands that i need. i only take to the store the coupons that i'm going to use. here is more on how we are Diligent with our Dollars.

5. "what about picky eaters?" yes. i have one of those. and it is crazy frustrating trying to plan meals around what he'll eat. so i stopped doing that. and instead, i plan meals that everyone else will eat. he wants to be picky, he can pick out what he doesn't like. i try to be as accommodating as i can to a point. for instance, on BBQ Pineapple Chicken night, i make 3 portions with BBQ pineapple and 1 portion completely plain. i keep peanut butter and jelly on hand for those days when my picky eater refuses to eat what i've made. and he's happy with that.

6. "what about special diets or food allergies?" yes. been there. earlier this year, DaddyHall and i did a 21-day fast. our special diet was fruits, vegetables, and beans only. i planned our meals accordingly, finding recipes that i could easily add meat to for the kids' portions. most recipes can be altered to accommodate a special diet. the key here is planning and flexibility. yes, it will take a little bit more time in the kitchen but at the end of the day you'll all be glad that you did because you'll all have full tummies.

7. "will meal planning work with my cat (or dog)?" yes. but you should know that cats and dogs love you even if you serve them the same food at every meal every single day.

8. "are you going to have more children?" i don't know what God has planned for us. i do know that we have been blessed with a healthy daughter and a healthy son and we are completely content as is.

(ok, so that last question isn't about meal planning but i get asked all the time so i thought i'd go ahead and answer.) 

i can tell you that the benefits of planning our dinners each week greatly outweigh the cost of time and effort put into it. i don't love menu planning. but i love what it does for me and for our family: saves money, reduces stress, and helps us eat healthily.

 i'm linking this at the Things I Love Thursday