Meal Planning, Then and Now

On a "we're bored" trip to Target.

My cooking style has changed significantly since our first year of marriage. Back then, I used cream of chicken soup quite regularly and had no qualms with brownies or muffins from a mix. Now, I make pretty much everything from scratch. (You know, within reason, not sandwich bread or condiments, etc.)

But arguably the biggest difference is that I used to meal plan for an entire month at a time. We were still in college and didn't have a car, so once a month we rented a zip car and stocked up on groceries. We would get milk and fresh produce at the corner store once a week.

Now, I really don't meal plan at all. I try to keep our pantry well-stocked and wing it from there. I don't like taking the time to sit down and plan a menu, so I just....don't.

The moment I've been dreaming of! #milestone

Tuesdays are my grocery shopping day and I always pick up a rotisserie chicken. We'll have it that night with veggies and a starch (a baguette is the easiest, but maybe potatoes in the winter or corn on the cob in the summer). 

On Wednesday, I'll use the leftover chicken somehow. In the winter, I might make chicken pot pie, chicken chili, chicken tortilla soup, or chicken noodle soup. In the summer, I'm all about salad, either classic chicken salad or adding chicken to pasta/green salads. Enchiladas and taquitos sound good year around. Quesadillas and fried rice are definitely the easiest options. Often, there's enough leftovers for Thursday too and maybe even a lunch for Adam. It's hard to beat three meals from one $4.99 chicken at Costco! 

On Fridays, we pretty much always have homemade pizza because it's meatless and easy and fun. The rest of the week, though? I just play it by ear. We always have organic ground beef from Costco on hand. In the winter, I'll often use it for chili, shepherd's pie, or sloppy joe's. Lasagna, spaghetti and meat sauce/balls, or meat loaf are good options too. In the summer, I'm all about tacos, Korean beef, and hamburgers. 

We usually have another mostly meatless meal at some point - quiche, pasta carbonara, mac & cheese, tomato soup, red beans and rice, etc. We always have frozen salmon on hand and sometimes I'll pick up steak or pork chops. If I'm really on the ball, I try to assemble a crock pot meal on Saturday night so I don't have to make dinner on Sunday. My favorites are pot roast, brisket, and pulled pork, although I have been meaning to try this ham recipe.

The main reason I frequent Whole Foods (after my first love, Costco) is the double shopping carts. And the $1.50 a slice pizza doesn't hurt either.

You can bet that if I don't enjoy meal planning, I also dread making a grocery list. So, I made a extensive list of everything I like to stock in my freezer and panty, organized by category. Then, I made another list of all those items separated by store.

I alternate between Costco and Whole Foods for my weekly grocery trip, because they both have double shopping carts and we can eat lunch at both stores, which means I can start putting the groceries away right when we get home instead of dealing with hungry toddlers.

I probably go to Trader Joe's and Target once a month. We also get dairy products delivered once a week from a milk man, which is the best thing ever.

Claire's idea of heaven.

Now, I just have to print out the right list before heading to the store and highlight the items we need, stopping to check the notepad we keep on the fridge for anything I might be missing.

I thought I would share both of those lists here, just in case they might be helpful:

Master Grocery List
Grocery List By Store

I know now that the way I shop for and prepare meals for my family will probably change many times over the years, but this method is working really well for the moment.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds kind of similar to how we do it. I have some ideas and occasionally definite plans of certain things I'd like to make during the week, otherwise it's stocking up and seeing what's a good deal that week. :) I try to put meals together loosely in my head as I shop.


You are awesome.