Organized Mom on November 1st, 2009

I just recently got my copy of Make It Fast, Cook It Slow and I’ve been going over recipes with the intent of some meal planning. I don’t usually plan our meals. We’re more of a “What do you feel like eating tonight?” family. But with a stricter budget in play now, we have to do something.

spices.jpgSo instead of a strict list where we eat this on Monday and that on Tuesday, we make a list of dishes that we’d like to eat during the week. I make my grocery list from that. And then we have everything on hand that we need to fix meals, which saves last minute — and expensive — trips to the grocery store.

If we’re sick of chicken, we can switch to beef or fish that night. If we’ve already had roast beef two nights in a row, we can pull out something else. I’m already finding that just having a general list of meals in mind for the week helps a LOT. I’m less likely to cast around for a meal and settle on something unhealthy (like ice cream and candy bars for dinner. Ahem.).

I’ve also found that having meals (somewhat) planned out is actually easier on me. If I know in advance what we’re going to eat, I can plan ahead. Have things out of the freezer and thawed. That has been my downfall so many times. I fail to plan and then we have nothing thawed. So we eat out, order in, or do something else that’s detrimental to our budget and health.

I really don’t want to set my son up with bad eating habits.

So this week, I’m cooking a roast. It’s already in the crockpot with some onions and beef broth. Later on I’ll add some more liquid with some potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms. We can use the leftovers in soups, sandwiches, and pasta. And later on today I’m going to roast a couple of chickens in the oven, then take all of the meat off the bones to use in a variety of dishes this week. Shredded chicken is pretty versatile and SO easy to throw in a dish when it’s already cooked.

Also, I’ll take the chicken bones and make stock to use for soups later in the week, too. Since I bought some celery and carrots yesterday, I’ll throw some of them, some garlic, and half an onion in with the bones when I make the stock. Homemade stock is much tastier and better for you anyway — you know EXACTLY what goes into it.

So reading Steph’s book has been a huge help. I can follow her recipes exactly or use them as a stepping off point. Having a basic recipe, though, really helps me. I don’t have to come up with something off the top of my head, yet I’m free to tweak it to suit our family. And I love that.

When I was younger, I stuck to recipes exactly, not understanding how to tweak them. But over the years, with lots of practice and experimentation (my hubby has been a huge help in that area – without him I’m not sure I’d know how to improvise as well) I have found that I know what will work and what won’t. What I can substitute or add. And I love it. It makes me feel good when I experiment and it works. It’s so much fun!

But I still hate the dishes that result. Oh well, you can’t win them all, right? And maybe I won’t hate dishes so much once we get our own place with a dishwasher. Maybe.

Photo credit: grafixar from morguefile.com

Disclosure: I requested a review copy of the book because Steph is my friend and I wanted to take a look at the recipes and post about it. I receive no compensation for doing so. A more thorough review of the book is coming later, after I have a chance to cook a few more recipes. But so far, so good.

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2 Responses to “Meal planning helps my budget”

  1. This is a great post. I am *very* haphazard when it comes to meal planning, which is ridiculous because my life is so much easier when I actually take the time to plan!

  2. I know! It really does help to plan, yet I don’t do it often enough. We’re trying to change that, though, starting this week.

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