Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Meal planning: Where to start

Now for the basics, how to plan your meals for the week. Step 1 is to make an outline. Your outline is your framework, you go back to it week after week, month after month. It's going to help you guide your planning. What does an outline look like?

Well my current one goes like this:
Sunday: Casserole, meatloaf, chili or stew.
Monday: Chicken
Tuesday: Meatball/sausage over pasta (or sandwich)
Wednesdays: Leftovers from Sunday
Thursday: Fish
Friday: My husband BBQs
Saturday: Dinner out

It's not set in stone. BBQ night and dinner out often get switched up, depending on our weekend plans. Your plan may be radically different... say you're vegetarian or have food sensitivities. Maybe you'll start with a theme (italian, japanese, comfort food) rather than basing your meal plan around a main ingredient. Consider trying Meatless Mondays. Think about your life, maybe you have a volunteer comitment on Tuesdays, date night on Fridays or your kid wants to have buddies over to watch football every Sunday. The key is to go with a framework that works for you.

Even if you don't really know much about cooking, it helps to start with a framework. Go with things like canned chili, peanut butter sandwiches, frozen burritos... but set aside one day a week to try and cook something from scratch. Preferably a weekend day, when you have some time to really learn. And slowly, as you learn to cook one week at a time, you can start to add new, home cooked, favorites into your weekly menu.

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