Meal Planning, at it's laziest

a small plate with a serving of mashed potatoesImage via Wikipedia

Meal planning has saved my sanity, and probably my marriage.

I used to call Mr. B. around lunch time and ask:

Me: “Hey baby, whatcha want for dinner?”

Him: “I dunno”

Me: “You feel like chicken?”

Him:  “I dunno”

Me:  “You want a big meal or a little meal?”

Him:  “Whatever you want to fix honey…”

Me:  “You’re no help.”

It would frustrate me to NO end!  I had food to choose from but no idea where to start.  It never failed that if I made a big dinner, he wouldn’t be very hungry.  If I made a quick and easy “salad and a sandwich”, he’d be STARVING.

A wise woman once told me, “Cook it, and he’ll eat it, and he’ll like it.”

She was right.  Even if he wasn’t in the mood for what I fixed, he did eat it, and he did like it.  Rarely does he complain.  The more I thought about it, I tend to NOT complain too as long as I didn’t have to prepare it.  I’m just grateful to have been fed something.

This is what prompted me to give Meal Planning a try.  After reading all sorts of posts and articles on inventorying your pantry and indexing your cookbooks I almost gave up on the idea.  That was entirely too much for me to keep up.

I tried it anyway.  When I take the time to just write out some dishes, it actually takes a lot of stress out of my week.  Here’s how I do it, in my head mostly:

Weekly Meal Planning, the lazy way 

1.Review the weeks planned activities.

  • Do we have activity day? classes? 
  • Any doctors appointments?
  • Will Daddy be working out of town, or be working nights?
  • Will we be home this weekend?

   Count up the busy days.  “Busy” days will tell me how many easy, crockpot, or leftover days I will need to plan.

2. Usually my goal is One easy/junk/takeout day, 2 potato side dish days, 2 rice side dish days, and 2 pasta side dish days.  Sometimes there is no taters, rice or pasta, just lots of veggies.  This ‘goal’ keeps me from making mashed potatoes EVERY night.  There is almost always two vegetables available, or a vegetable and fruit.  They are typically chosen at the last minute.

3.  I ask ‘the question’ to hubby:  “What one thing would YOU like to have that I haven’t made in a while?” Normally, I get the standard “I dunno”.  He had his chance. 

4. What does Momma want!

If I have time I might flip through a cook book for ideas.  Sometimes I leave the plan pretty generic where I’m pretty much just planning my ingredients.  This comes in handy with picky eaters.  For example: instead of planning a fancy schmancy chicken dinner, I just plan on chicken, rice, peas, fruit.  I know to take the chicken out to thaw.  I can bake up a piece for the girls, and do something ‘cool’ with the rest for hubby and myself.

My final bit o’ lazy:  I don’t plan for a specific day.  I just pick out however many meals I need to fill the week and decide in the morning which one we’ll cook.  We can thank my pregnant appetite for this trick.

I’ll be posting my meals for this week shortly and I’ll add a few details on why I picked what I picked, so you can see my planning in action!

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Do you do meal planning?  How do you decide what to plan? 

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