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The Cookbook (Recipes, Cooking, & Food Prep) *Public* You can share recipes here, talk about "what's for dinner," and ask all sorts of questions related to cooking and food preparation.
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Old 11-05-2007, 07:16 AM   #31
jewelmcjem
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?

I use www.menus4moms.com as a basic menu plan, and plan for 2 weeks at a time, since dh gets paid every other Thursday. So sometimes I'm using last week's and this week's menus. I only plan 8-10 meals for two weeks, since we'll have mac-n-cheese nights or leftovers or whatever. If there are things I know my kids won't like, I look in the archives or in my cookbooks for an alternative. At M4M, they provide a PDF grocery list, but I like to figure my local prices so I've developed my own Excel spreadsheet for groceries (I think I can link it in Google Documents if you're interested). Wednesday before payday, I go through the recipes I want to do for the next two weeks and make a note of anything I need to buy, and enter it in my spreadsheet with at least guesstimated prices.
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Old 11-15-2007, 11:28 PM   #32
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?

I forgot I bookmarked this as I'm no good at meal planning.

Okay, first make a list of what you can cook:

dinner-wise
spaghetti
hamburgers
hotdogs
mac n cheese
crockpot meals in a bag

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Old 11-16-2007, 05:05 AM   #33
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?

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Old 11-16-2007, 06:59 AM   #34
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?

Ok, if you can make spagetti, you can make:

Pesto bowties with shrimp, and

Cavitiini (spiral noodles, with spagetti sauce and chopped up pepperonis and italian sausage, put in a pan and baked with cheese on top) and

Baked tortalini

If you can make crock pot meals in a bag, you can also make:

Stir Fry veggies
Quesadillias
Beef stroganoff from Hamburger Helper

If you can make a hamburger, you can make:

Any grilled or baked meat or fish (chicken, pork, salmon, talapia, steak)


See where this is going?
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Old 11-16-2007, 08:22 AM   #35
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?

This thread is great! I can't really eat out because of food restrictions (no dairy, soy, wheat, corn & nuts, plus limited fruits & veggies), so if I don't cook, I end up eating cereal, which generally puffed rice and uncooked oats with rice milk. Not the most nutritious meal ever!

Now I have to come up with a list of what I can cook. I'm not at all good at that!
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Old 11-16-2007, 09:26 PM   #36
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?

Allison, how do you do that though? Meaning, how do you take it from spaghetti to those "fancier" items. Is it a creativity thing? When I think (notice I used the word think there, not make) of making dinner I don't think, "Chicken with alfredo sauce and mushrooms sounds good." It's more, "We need bread, milk, vegs, and chx." But it's very hard for me to get creative with that and take it to the next level.

Am I making sense?

This is a great thread btw. This was never modeled for me and I'd love to learn how to do this so, at a minimum, I can teach my girls one day.
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Old 11-16-2007, 09:38 PM   #37
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?

apmommy, I read cookbooks. That's how I get from spaghetti to pasta Alfredo!
I love to cook, so I have a lot of cookbooks I own. BUT! I always check out about six cookbooks every time we are at the library, too. Then I copy the recipes that look extra good, easy, etc. Then when I'm making my meal plans I have those to consider, kwim?
And I never make a grocery list without a menu first. I used to do list first, menu later-and would always find out that I was missing one ingredient and then wouldn't be able to make that particular dish!
I use a meal planning/recipe software, too-it's called accuchef. It had like 60 free uses then you can buy it for really cheap. I think it was less then 10 bucks? I spent about 25 because I bought the back up disc and the how-to book.
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Old 11-16-2007, 10:10 PM   #38
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?

I used to use Mastercook when I used Windows. Now I use MacGourmet. I recommend both of them

During the first part of my pregnancy I was so grossed out at the thought of food that I started using Menus4Moms too. I only use it to get ideas. Some weeks I'd use all of the recipes. Some weeks I'd only use 1 or I'd browse through the archives to find something better. Most weeks I'd alter to make the recipes fit our family and our food restrictions. Since they only give 5 days worth, I'd use a few of my own as well. Now that I'm feeling better, I'm bringing back in my regular recipes.

ITA about getting cookbooks from the library. I have the Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook out from the library right now

I'm also using doortodoororganics.com for my food delivery, so I am planning my meals based on what comes in my weekly box. When I did this with Menus4Moms, I mostly used the stuff in the box to substitute for the sides that she had planned. I get an email the Friday before my box comes (it comes on Wednesday) so I have plenty of time to plan.

FWIW, I actually prefer to leave my options open, so I don't plan which day I'll do each meal. The only time that days are loosely planned is if I'll be using the leftovers for a meal later in the week.
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Old 11-16-2007, 11:06 PM   #39
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?

I wanna come back to this, but a few years ago I came across my mom's planner for meals...back when she cooked meals. It was like two weeks of meals that rotated. So, let's say week one was -

Sunday - Tuna & Noodles (it was the 70's)
Monday - Mac n Cheese (homemade, of course)
Tuesday - Tacos
Wednesday - Chicken, Baked Potato, Salad
Thursday - Frogs Legs (I don't know!)
Friday - Hamburger Patties & Tator Tots (while watching Diff'rent Strokes)
Saturday - Fried Fleas Knees

Then next week she'd change the menu, including the horrible steamed veggies over steamed white rice (blech!...every kids nightmare). It always felt new because apparently we had the memory of a gnat and didn't remember we had just had it not too long ago.

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Old 11-17-2007, 08:07 AM   #40
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?

I have to ask,What is fried fleas knees?
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Old 11-19-2007, 11:23 PM   #41
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?

My method:

1. Have a collection of cheap old home-cooking-type cookbooks (garage sales yay!) and links to home-cooking recipe sites.

2, Shop once a week.

3. The day before shopping day, go through the food on hand. What staples do we need? What meals can I make with what I have? Can I expect leftovers from any of them? What can I use the leftovers for? Are there any mealtimes this week when I definitely won't be cooking and what are we going to eat then? How many meals do I need to buy for? I jot down the week's menu on a sheet of paper.

4. Check the current sales flyers and my coupon file. Write down the best deals per serving on protein ingredients I know the family will eat. (We eat protein at every meal for reasons not germane to this thread.) Fill in the gaps on the menu using these ingredients, allowing for leftovers. Also look for deals on fruits and veggies that I know I can use up before they spoil. The price and quality of frozen veggies or juice-canned fruit (or canned tomatoes) may be better than fresh and they sidestep the spoilage problem. Also jot down a couple of backups in case they're out of what I'm looking for.

5. Shop with a list and coupons in hand and DON'T shop hungry! If possible, take a minute to jot down unit prices on things I'm not buying THIS week, but may want to keep in mind. (Before my computer had an aneurysm, I actually kept unit prices at different stores in an Excel file. I could tell when a sale at one store really did beat the regular price at another--and also see how our weekly bill went up about $25 whenever we shopped hungry. But I can't open Excel files anymore.)
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Old 11-20-2007, 05:42 AM   #42
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?

i have a 6 week rotation of meals (about 4-5 per week) and then we get pizza once every couple of weeks and i also like to try new recipes - i collect either torn out pages from magazines or printed out recipes in a 3 ring binder. i also peruse my cookbooks once in a while. i have just the main dish listed. i keep on hand a selection of frozen vegetables. i am also starting to freeze meals, so this may change my planning... and in the new year dh will have a new job where he may be gone anywhere from a night or two to a week or so at a time - again, this will probably impact my planning/cooking. i keep my rotation list in the front of the binder, and then the next section is recipes that are in the rotation. behind that are recipes i want to try divided into categories. (we don't do desserts regularly - and of course those are always most appealing when looking at magazines - so my sweets section is huge! i am even putting recipes that are in my recipe box or in my cookbooks (of course i know which one ... usually :/ ) in the binder, so that that is my one source for meal planning/cooking.

i am loving this thread too, i just wanted to put the idea of the notebook and a longer rotation out there. i finally started the rotation because i was tired of cooking "i don't care" and "what do you want"
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Old 11-20-2007, 05:43 AM   #43
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?

let's sticky this!
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Old 11-20-2007, 06:08 AM   #44
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?

Sticky, sticky, sticky!
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Old 01-26-2008, 11:59 AM   #45
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Default Re: Can someone teach me how to meal plan?



I want to resurrect this thread because I'd really like to start doing this. Anyone else interested in posting some meal plans?
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