Meal Planning 101

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I know, I know, you can find 1,000 other post about this topic on the Internet, but stay with me for a minute.

A little background. I come from a family of cooks. My mom did the majority of cooking when we were growing up, but I remember my dad liked to cook just as much. He would make my special birthday dinner (taquitos, beans, and rice) and often try to recreate recipes from things he'd eaten at a restaurant, which meant we'd sometimes have the same thing multiple times a week until he perfected his recipe. My parents were also champion dutch oven cooks back in the day. All four of my siblings like to cook and are good at it. Cooking, for me, has been my longest and most beloved hobby (since the time I was eight-years-old). Point is, I like to cook.

One of the unexpected benefits of marriage is having more than one person to cook for. Yay! The other benefit, at least in my case, is sharing the actual task of cooking with someone else. (GH is great like that.) When we were first married (which I guess we still are) GH telecommuted twice a week. This luxury meant he often did more of the cooking than I did. Since moving to the Midwest, however, we noticed a dramatic shift in our evening routine. And not in a good way. With both of us working and telecommuting out of the picture we would frequently arrive home tired and hungry, dreading the What's for dinner? question. We'd get into tiffs about what to have or who should cook or if we needed to run to the store for ingredients. Eating out was an easy, but expensive, fix. It didn't take us long to discover dinner time was causing a lot of unnecessary stress in our relationship. The solution? Weekly meal planning! As clearly stated on one of our 2013 Post-it notes. Brilliant.

So here's what we've done. Every Friday we come up with a Menu of the Week that consists of four meals. (GH cooks two nights and I cook two nights.) The other three nights are for leftovers, breakfast for dinner, on our own, or, occasionally, eating out. On Saturday one of us will go grocery shopping for the entire week. The menu is then posted on the refrigerator and each of us selects our respective nights to cook. From a financial perspective, cooking at home makes sense; but we have noticed the added benefit of more peace in our evening routine. Plus we get to enjoy the benefits of tasty leftovers for lunch the next day. Have you tried anything similar to a weekly meal plan?

Some of our new favorite recipes include this lamb kebab platter, a to-die-for veggie marinara with crusty bread on the side, and this flavorful vegetarian curry coconut red lentil soup.

Image from A Blog About Love. 

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