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Am I the only person who meal planning DOESN'T work for? Anyone else? So, what do you do/eat/buy instead?!

(17 Posts)
pipkin35 Thu 08-Sep-11 10:03:19

This will sound absolutely pathetic I know, BUT meal planning NEVER works for me. Am I the only one who it doesn't 'work' for?!

I have tried it out several times over the past few years but for whatever reason, it never quite works. Either, OH and me don't quite 'fancy' what's on the menu that month, or whatever - but I can never seem to get my head round it.

So, even though when I did do it for a couple of weeks (it's never lasted for more than 2 weeks) - and I found it did save us money...we're back to not doing it. And I'm back to wondering what y'all eat and spend on a weekly shop in your household...

We're 2 adults and 2 DCs under 5. Currently spend £100 a week.

homeaway Thu 08-Sep-11 10:30:12

It might work if you dont stick to specific meals but rather main ingredients, for example one day a week is something made with mince, so it could be shepherds pie, lasagna, hamburgers, meatballs. Chicken as main ingredient could be stir fry, curry, breaded, roast etc... This gives you more flexibility and makes it less boring. When we make homemade chips we make more of them and freeze them so that there is part of an easy meal in the freezer. Oh makes them and you just par boil them and then throw them in a bowl with some oil , shake and then put them in the oven. HTH.

boringnamechange Thu 08-Sep-11 14:05:10

I started a meal plan for the month on Saturday and did my shopping - only made the first meal off it last night as before that other things came up. And even at that I switched it with another meal. I think even though I have done that and not followed it properly I know I have all the ingredients in to make them IYSWIM? And my shopping at lidl and morrisons only came to £70 and that was with household items and I wont go back for another big shop for a good few weeks only top ups of milk, fruit and veg.
Freezer and cupboards are stocked well so prob why its so cheap this month and might not be like that again.
First time I have ever done a meal plan too

mamofK Thu 08-Sep-11 14:09:47

I tend to plan dinners for week, buy all the ingredients and then do a few hours cooking to prepare all meals for week in advance and pop in freezer. That way, dinners for week are sorted, but if something comes up and we don't use them all, there's no food waste (a major peeve of mine), but we're still saving money by buying all at once from Aldi and/or Dunnes for the more unusual items.

mamofK Thu 08-Sep-11 14:12:43

Our weekly food shop for two adults and DD comes to between 100-150 euro, with a few milk runs (we are total calves and go through two litres a day min!). We take our lunches to work with us, so that amount covers all edibles for week.

belgo Thu 08-Sep-11 14:13:54

I cannot meal plan either. Last minute activites and cahnges in appetites get in the way.

I tend to have a selection of the basics in the freezer and fridge and go shopping every few days.

haveigotnewsforyou Sat 10-Sep-11 09:26:36

No, I plan two days at a time and shop every few days. Tend to go everywhere too - Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsburys, Lidl, Morrisons, M&S, etc.

Same reason as you really - don't always fancy what was planned and other things come up or I feel too tired to cook something from scratch.

It actually works out much better as I look in the fridge and decide what to cook with what's in there (i.e. an aubergine, half an onion, some frozen lamb, etc.). When I'm out and about I pick up reduced items and stick them in the freezer.

I save myself a fortune and rarely throw food away. I do spend quite a bit shopping though (but actually quite like that!).

bacon Tue 13-Sep-11 17:31:28

Yes and no. If I plan it properly with great menu then it works but usually I end up getting in late so that knocks that one off the list.

I tend to do alot of batch cooking so freeze as many portions as possible so when I dont cook fresh I can revert to the freezer and microwave.

I dont do the "fancy it" I just do it and never give options to the children.

goingmadinthecountry Wed 14-Sep-11 10:56:10

With a family of 6 (only one under 15) batch cooking isn't very practical timewise. I'd probably find meal planning more successful if we had an ordered life, but like many I rarely know who'll be in from one day to the next, and I often work on short notice myself. Sometimes the planned meal isn't a great choice if it needs to be heated up later for one or more older children.

I've always let the children have input so over a fortnight there'll be a balance of stuff they all really like. We choose things the children can cook if I'm busy - stir fries, chilli, curry, pasta sauces etc. No-one likes packaged food or ready made sauces so at least the children are getting pretty good at knocking up simple curries etc.

Gay40 Sun 18-Sep-11 12:01:34

I can't meal plan weeks in advance, so I buy about 4/5 days of meals and see what we fancy on the day. This also accounts for changing minds, last minute meals out etc. I throw very little away, use my slow cooker loads and rarely buy lunch at work, unless it is Lunch Out with people.
I never batch cook. Can't be bothered and no-one will eat leftovers apart from me (see lunches).

BecauseImWorthIt Sun 18-Sep-11 12:10:27

I only plan a week in advance. I plan 4-5 meals and then cook the one that I fancy on that day.

TrillianAstra Sun 18-Sep-11 12:12:21

Meal planning only works if you know exactly how many people will be eating dinner every day and how much time you will have to prepare it and you are not (like me) in the habit of not really feeling like the thing you had planned.

beatenbyayellowskull Sun 09-Oct-11 20:03:27

Do you have an iphone? I use an app which has really delicious, yet lowfat recipes and it creates a shopping list for you.

I add the ones for the week onto my favourites list, create a shopping list, and then return the recipe back to the unfavourites list once I've cooked it.

And I cook extra and have it for lunch the next day too.

HattiFattner Sun 09-Oct-11 20:17:24

Ive started meal planning in a broad sense, in that I found us eating the same old same old every week.

So I made a baby spreadsheet, listing the things I make with....mince, fish, sausages, chicken, rice, pasta etc.

Then week one plan I try and take one thing from each column, plus in each week I plan to make something completely new.

This means I now have a list of 30 or 40 dishes/variations that I can cook, plus a couple of other new recipes for the month.

Next month I shall use the same menus, swapping out anything that was unsuccessful with another dish from the list.

I couldn't be arsed with planning breakfasts and lunches though.

That said, we had a take out last night because I was fed up with cooking. Plus looking back, I have at least one evening where I haven't cooked what I said I would and have opted for something completely different because family circumstances can change week to week, even day by day.

I do find having that list means my shopping is a little more focussed rather than "Oh that looks nice..."

TheRealLane Mon 10-Oct-11 12:12:45

I've been meal planning for a few years now. I think it depepnds on what kind of person you are. I would be totally lost without my weekly menu and shopping list, but if you are more spontaneous that can be a blessing! I also think it depends on the type and frequency of your plan, for instance, are you using recipes/meals suggested by someone else, or are they the meals you usually enjoy? Even I'd be hard pressed to "fancy" from a list I found on tinternet! Also planning and shopping for a month can be a chore.

This is how it's done in our household (not too extreme/uptight I hope!)

Wednesday night - browse through recipe books, free magazines from the supermarket etc for ideas. Write 7 day meal plan of evening meals only (breakfast and lunch are usually the same things anyway), write shopping list (most items are pretty standard every week eg, milk, bread, cereal, packed lunch, you get the picture, so you don't even need to think about that.) Write meal plan on blackboard in kitchen to give family members chance to object (DH hates fish.)

Thursday - go shopping. Thursday dinner is usually the one meal of the week I put little or no effort into, having drained myself of all creativity with the shopping. So kfc anyone?

Friday onwards - cook nothing that takes more than 30 mins prep, not including cooking time. Although I am not working at the mo, the last five years working full time have givien me a good repertoire of recipes which take little or no time to make.

Check out caloriecount.about.com/ for a huge collection of healthy family friendly recipes and I always check forums.moneysavingexpert.com/ for money saving ideas and recipes.

substantiallycompromised Mon 10-Oct-11 12:36:49

I plan meals inasmuch there is a structure to the week but I don't decide the precise dish until a day or so before depending on season/activities etc/what looks good in shops.

So, the weekly plan roughly looks like this:
roast with trimmings on Sunday
cold cuts/pots/veg on Monday
usually egg dish or pasta on Tuesday
chicken Wednesday
veggie day on Thursday
fish on Friday
home made veg or pulse soup (made on Thurs when I prep veggie dish) for Saturday lunch and take-away (or something cheap and cheerful) Sat evening

and so on ....

Meglet Mon 10-Oct-11 21:49:42

It never worked for me. If my IBS flares up I can't eat properly and things were being wasted.

But I've started doing it 3/4 days ahead and I think it's going to work out ok.

I have a wipe-board in the kitchen so can scribble down meal ideas a couple of days in advance after checking the fridge / cupboards. As I walk through town every day before work I can always grab the odd item to keep us ticking over.

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