Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Slaying the meal planning dragon!

I have been attempting to slay the mighty dragon of meal planning for about 21 years now.

I've geared myself up for battle in several ways.  At first there were recipe cards that I got from my many bridal showers.  They were hand written with love and wrapped in nice cellophane.  From someone who had (only) cooked chocolate chip cookies and grilled cheese sandwiches prior to getting married, these recipes were golden.

You mean I can actually "make" soup?


I thought biscuits came from a can that you twisted.

Soon enough, I was devouring cookbooks.  By the time I was 25 and expecting my second baby, I was doing advanced things like Once a Month Cooking.  (yes, that was 18 years ago.  I know that because I was ready to hatch Joanna, and she is nearly 18..  but I digress...)  Pros: yes, you really do have a ton of food ready to go. Cons: It takes an entire day or more to cook, and I do not like to eat freezer food.  I like fresh!!

Oh, but the third baby and a move to Panama, initiated the hippy cooking style in me.  I was grinding grains, eating beans and cooking stuff like More with Less and Make a Mix.   More with Less-- a little too hippy-ish and vague in focus.  Make a Mix--  a little too "everything tastes alike" on the main dishes..

On to the fourth baby, and I discovered Dinner's in the Freezer.  Too many math calculations.   Too many meatloafs or same food items over and over. Too left-brained for me.

And then I made a rotating menu.  I just basically served the same thing every week on the same day.  Tuesdays= tacos, and Wednesday= burgers.. or whatever.  That's one way to make sure your kids hate tacos or burgers.. LOL.

And then I did the "meal makers" thing where you register online and then go to this little place and assemble your meals right there.   You paid a certain amount of money and then left with a pile of meals to put in your freezer.  I did that right after Emily was born, and it was such a luxury. It was  quite fun, but it got pricey.

And then the blogging world and I met.  Menu-plan Monday from the Organizing Junkie and I intersected.  And you know she is awesome, and so is her site.  But, quite honestly, I am too lazy to plan a menu every week. And I couldn't use anyone else's meals, because they all eat like birds.  We, quite honestly, eat like gorillas.

Planning takes SO much time and mental energy.  It's right up there with clipping coupons.  I admire people who do it, but I can't get it done.

So, my next plan of attack has been not to have a plan. Just buy a bunch of food and hope it comes together.  Now, you can imagine how successful that is!! The miracle of this is not the lack of success, but the relative amount of success despite the lack of plan.  BUT when you have a child who is completely inept of eating anything that involves the least amount of creativity in getting it to the table, beware.  That child will probably starve to death or hold the younger children hostage until you serve it to him on a silver platter.  Thankfully, aforementioned (mythical) children live far away from home and I plan to have a better plan together before said  (mythical) children come home in seven weeks.

Without further ado, I would like to introduce.... (drum roll .. please)  my next plan.  In a long line of failed menu planning attempts and other disorderly conduct, I am going for the big bucks and have subscribed to the SavingDinner.com menu-planning mailer!!!!   I tried the sample menu, and it looks great.   I tried the first meal, and it was fabulous.

When I described it to my mother, I told her the little menus come right to my mailbox and so do the little shopping lists with perforated edges..

Her only response was, "Oh, so where is the little guy who will set the table and light the candles for you?"

"I'm sure they'll come out with that next year, Ma.."

Not that anyone should trust me on this, but I have a feeling that this will work.  Well, it may work as well as any of the other things I've tried, which isn't saying much.  But anything that I paid for (almost) guarantees that I will get my money's worth because I'm like that.

And I have noticed that anything you like to do gets done regardless of how much money or lack of money you put toward it.  But anything you do not like to do that has to be done, won't get done unless it is super easy, in your face, obvious "here's what to do next, you moron".  Have you noticed that?

And sometimes "gettin' 'er done" just involves figuring out what you are going to do and what you are going to farm out.  

What are you farming out? and what are you doing?


singtothelord2 said...

I have struggled with this same thing for years and it is one of my husbands pet peeves. I have tried and tried and just can't seem to stick with it...but maybe it is that I hate to cook. hm... I am at the stage where you buy things and think it up as you go. That gets stressful on the brain when you are caught up doing something you love like sewing or gardening and the kids show up and say, "we're hungry, what's for dinner?". That's when everything comes to a screeching halt. I can't wait to hear of your success! :-)

Bernadette Veenstra said...

I love your posts! They make me laugh.
I enjoy planning our menu. We don't really have a routine. I just haul out the cookbooks and look for new recipes, or revisit old recipes, when I feel like we are eating the same things too much.
I do a two week menu. In the two week period, I usually try one new recipe, and I try to do s pup that will go for 2 meals, plus another meal that will go for two meals. I have never been in to the 30 day menu in one day of cooking thing. You eat the same kinds of stuff over and over.
I was a camp cook though, so I enjoy cooking quantities, and variety.
Anyway, I hope this new plan works great for you.=)

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Mrs. Parunak said...

I have never had trouble with meal planning because I am a certified plan-a-holic. If there is no plan, I get a nervous twitch. Where *I* struggle is with staying full of the fruits of the spirit when my plan gets interrupted. Unfortunately, there's no mail order godliness flier with perforated edges.

Organizing Mommy said...

Why are some of my best friends plan-a-holics? I think it's great, but I have difficulty with it. When I find godliness with perforated edges, I'll be sure to promote it. thanks, Mrs. P!

sara said...

I farm out about half the meals to my husband. Does that count?

Kathi said...

Right now I'm at my daughter's home,helping out with her new baby, so we've been blessed with meals compliments of others. But, when I'm home, I've started using recipe.com to try new ideas. Of course, you have to know the name of whatever the dish is, but they have lots of versions to try. I print out my favorites and keep them in 3-RING BINDER FOR FUTURE REFERENCE.

The dB family said...

Heh heh! I should be farming out more, but alas we're not in a spot to do that so instead I'm learning to ignore some things and just tackle the other ones head on. The menu thing is still always a battle for me too. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who's not fond of freezer food. I hope you'll post more about your newest plan of attack. I'm curious.