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All you food planners out there............... any advice?

(98 Posts)
BubblesDeVere Mon 18-Apr-05 09:34:06

I am just thinking about food planning for the weeks ahead.

I have a few questions.

How far ahead do you plan? Do you do a month or a week.

Do you find it saves you money.

Do you have the same thing each day, eg, tuesday is always spag bol etc.

Do you find it easier than just deciding to do something 'off the cuff'?

I am thinking of doing this.

If you have any more tips or advice please let me know, it will be just for myself and the kids because dh is such a fussy eater.

BubblesDeVere Mon 18-Apr-05 11:38:07


yoyo Mon 18-Apr-05 11:46:14

I plan meals because I find it much easier but not necessarily cheaper. I plan for a week with a couple of "just in case" meals in the freezer. I don't have the same things on each day of the week every week - think you'd soon become bored with the predictability of that. I have a number of meals that I know everyone will eat so plan those in and then try out a couple of new things too. The problem I find is that fresh stuff doesn't always last so end up going to the shop and spending more than I'd intended (going to try a cash-only approach to supermarkets to see if I can overcome this problem). I do try and plan salads/dinners for the beginning of the week and move towards pasta,etc. as the week goes on.

If you have a day where you could prepare pasta sauce, casserole type things and freeze them you will probably find meal planning easier.

Beansmum Mon 18-Apr-05 12:05:52

I plan a month ahead and do one weekly shop, it saves money because I don't buy food and then not eat it and I don't buy anything that's not on my list.
I plan what we are going to eat on weekdays but leave the weekends for whatever I fancy.

I write down 20 meals, 4 chicken dishes, 4 fish, 4 meat, 4 pasta and 4 vegetarian and then have one of each each week. Sometimes the plan changes for some reason but it still helps to keep me organised and when I get home I can just get on with cooking something rather than faffing around wondering what to make.

emmielou Mon 18-Apr-05 20:17:17

BUMP ... any more advice anyone... just gonna start menu planning ..

ambrosia Mon 18-Apr-05 20:32:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WideWebWitch Mon 18-Apr-05 20:33:45

I'm just starting to do this planning business bubbles. This week I have decided on 5 or 6 main meals and shopped for those only. The shop came to about £45 (all organic) and I don't think I'll have to shop again for a week. It included things we'd run out of like Marmite, Peanut butter, olive oil, washing powder too, plus a load of fruit for lunchboxes. I couldn't have the same thing each day each week, it would drive me mad with boredom! But I'm sure this will mean we don't waste so much food and will save money and actually, I think it will just make life easier. I've been meaning to do it for ages. This week:

Vegetarian shepherds pie (we had this today, I made it this morning so dd and I had it for lunch and dp and ds had it for supper)
I also made fairy cakes but we already had the ingredients in the house
The rest of the week, in no particular order
salmon steaks with Nigella's hot and sweet mustard sauce, baby sweetcorn and prob new potatoes for us, something else for ds/dd
Pizza Express pizzas (in the freezer) and dp's homemade garlic and rosemary pizza bread, probably Friday when I will drink wine too
Lentil hotpot, because I know both children will eat it and so will we
a tray of roasted vegetables with tuna steaks for us with rice or noodles for ds/dd
Pasta with Jamie Oliver's very veggie sauce (thanks Blossomhill for the link to the recipe) for ds, prob something else for dd and us since I don't like pasta, so whatever leftovers there are
Omelette with peppers and goats cheese
Eggy bread
fishfingers and peas
peanut butter sandwiches
potato wedges, veg
That lot's a random selection of lunches too for me and dd. I'll be interested to see what other people are cooking! And I've promised myself I'll do some new stuff that all of us can eat (I don't like pasta, both children are veggie, ds is fussy boy who likes bland food, endless complications!)

ambrosia Mon 18-Apr-05 20:38:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

tigi Mon 18-Apr-05 21:07:04

i just plough through a couple of recipe books - Jamie/nigella/annabel meal planner books, find what i like the sound of, scribble the ingredients (and note the page and book of recipe else pointless excercise!). i shop for a week, prob 5 good main meals. We are eating much more veg, and I am spending about £30 wekk less than I did before, and I am more organised at reatime as I know what we are having.
I also cut recipes out mags, and keep them in a scrapbook. I haven't duplicated a meal yet.

Tipex Mon 18-Apr-05 21:39:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Prufrock Tue 19-Apr-05 07:40:35

I'm not sure I should admit to this - but you all know I am anal anyway.

I have mine on a colour coded excel spreadsheet. It has 30 "dinner" options, 12 "me and the kids lunch" options and 6 "weekend breakfast". Sunday nights I drag and drop my selections into a form, which I am in the process of filling in to tie up with a pivot table containing ingredients to form my weekly shopping list.

I do think it saves us a fortune. A lot of that is down to the fact that I manage to do just one big shop a week, and just a bread and milk top-up on Fridays. I try and make double of any freezable meals (cottage pie/fish pie/soups) so that I can just get them out of the freezer with frozen veg later in the week.

Definately don't do the same thing every day. I also try to factor in things that can be moved around without screwing up use-by dates - so if I wake up and don't fancy cooking or eating that particular thing, I don't.

WideWebWitch Tue 19-Apr-05 07:47:43

Prufrock, hahahahaha, I should have known! But hey, I'm impressed, esp at the linked pivot table ! Tipex, our weekly shop has been known to be £150-£180 (without booze) so I'm quite amazed I got it down to that too. When it's been that high I think it's because I randomly buy stuff, some of which I have no idea when we're going to have and then it gets chucked out when it goes off. Dp's parents are coming on Sunday so I will have to think of something for them but I reckon I can do something lovely for £10 or so. And I will need to buy wine on Friday but Asda are doing organic red and white for £3.50 a bottle and it's fine so we're still up to less than £60 for the week for 4 of us and Dp's parents at the weekend.

WideWebWitch Tue 19-Apr-05 07:48:25

come on though, tell us some of your dinner options, I want to expand my repetoire. copy and paste them

wheresmyfroggy Tue 19-Apr-05 07:49:34

Plan week by week

Yes it saves us money

we usually just liberally spread our our favourite meals over the week, no particular day for any meal

easier than off the cuff for me, off the cuff for me often entails looking threough the contents of the fridge, freezer and every cupboard about ten times before just doing crap like tuna pasta


Prufrock Tue 19-Apr-05 10:20:22

I think they'll be a bit meaty for you www - I have to cater to my carniverous won't eat anything green dh.

Courgette Omelette
Fishcakes, Peas and Sweetcorn
Chicken Dippers, Chips, Peas and Sweetcorn
Couscous With Carrot, Onion and Chick Peas
Rice Soup with Spinach and Tomato
Pasta and Pesto
Beef, Beans and Barley Stew
Mini Macaroni Cheese
Mini Shepherds Pie
Germanish Meatballs and Rice
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken with CousCous and Yoghurt and Coriander
Chicken stuffed with Tallegio, Roasted Potatoes & Veg
Roast Chicken
Lemon Chicken Thighs and Rice, Roasted Vegetables
Roast Pork, Cauliflower and Broccolli, Mash
Pork Escalopes, Saute Potatoes, Mushrooms
Pork Stew (Slo-cook) with Mash
Chorizo and Potato Stew
Pork with Mushrooms and Mustard Sauce, Rice
Lamb with Peppers and Tomatoes, Rice
Greek Lamb Stew with Macaroni
Roast Lamb, Roasted New Potatoes and Vegetables
Lamb with Houmous, Pitta and Peppers
Lamb Stew (Slo-Cook) and Mash
Fish Pie
Squash & Shrimp Soup
Poached Salmon and Vegetables
Baked Cod, Roasted Vegetables
Sea Bass, Asparagus Corn & Cauliflower
Spaghetti Carbonara
Pasta With Tomato Sauce
Red Pepper Rissotto
Mushroom Rissotto
Peppers stuffed with Mushroom Rice
Steak, Mushrooms and Onions/Salad
Stir Fry beef with black bean and noodles
Cottage Pie
Spaghetti Bolognese

frogs Tue 19-Apr-05 10:33:16

I plan too, I'm afraid. I plan a week's menus on Sunday night, so that I can use up leftovers from Sunday lunch, and anything remaining from our organic delivery box (Thursday).

I write it out in three columns, one for the day, one for the food and in the third column put any extra ingredients I will need (after checking cupboards). I then use that to compile my shopping list for my trip to the supermarket on Monday.

It saves a fortune, and lots of hassle not having to wonder what you're going to cook each evening.

Fascinated by Prufrock's advanced excel skills. I didn't even know you could colour-code spreadsheets. And what is a pivot table? Sounds much more impressive than my scribbled list.

MrsWednesday Tue 19-Apr-05 10:49:43

Another meal planner here. I go through all my cookbooks on a Sunday morning, do one big shop later that day and it lasts for the week (apart from a quick trip for a few bits and bobs like milk and bread). I just do it a week at a time, and find most of the stuff lasts all week. I'm sure it's saved me money, and it's stopped me from spending what seemed like half my life in the supermarket.

This week we're eating:

Chicken and noodles
Salmon in mustard sauce with veg and new potatoes
Slow cooked lamb and veg
Thai veg and cous cous
Grilled peppery pork and apple

GeorginaA Tue 19-Apr-05 10:55:59

Wow prufrock - seriously impressed with your pivot table! Must work on my excel spreadsheet to include the ingredients, bloomin' good idea!

Bozza Tue 19-Apr-05 10:57:04

Right my system is this bearing in mind that I work full days Tues-Thurs.
Tuesday night plan meals - Fri - Thurs.
Wednesday at work online shop.
Thursday night online delivery.

For the meal planning I plan to cook double of 3 meals on my 4 days off. Then one day I will either cook a one off or we will be visiting family or go out. Then on my working days we just get whatever out of the freezer and maybe cook some pasta or veg or whatever. This is for DH, me, DS (4) and DD (11 months). DD eats the same as us but that means I have to be wary on salt/stock but usually just use herbs/spices to flavour.
Last week we had:
Fri - Delia's spicy chickpea cutlets with potato wedges, babycorn (DD loves) and salad.
Sat - pasta with chicken, brocolli, courgette and spinach in a tomato & mozzarella sauce (made up recipe).
Sun - went to friends and had chinese take away
Mon - chicken breast marinated in a spicy yoghurty sauce, mash, brocolli , sauteed leeks, frozen peas.
Also made some pot and leek soup for lunches and some stewed fruit for DD.

Now ideally I would keep these in the feezer for a week so that we could have 3 different dishes for the rest of this week but have already got the sauce out for tonight and so will be having that again. Next week we will have a totally different menu but have not really thought about it yet.

piffle Tue 19-Apr-05 10:59:03

I do a monthly plan, a fortnightly big shop and twice weekly trips for milk/bread and fresh fruit and veges and the odd thing that you invariably forget
Yes it saves as you never have to just pop into supermarket for that one thing and come out £30 worse off.
Also it takes so much panic out of what to cook that day
Here's our sample this week
Saffron Lamb Pittas and salad
Pasta arrabiata with parmesan and salad
chicken fajitas and dips and salad, plus pudding=fruit pancakes
Thai Fish Curry with steamed veges and rice
5 bean and vege soup with granary rolls and pudding =frozen homemade yoghurt
braised lamb and couscous Jamie Olivers recipe VERY NICE
Baked fish with steamed veges
I find you can eat better if you plan ahead too
PS this is my first week of doing it

spykid Tue 19-Apr-05 10:59:17

Interested in reading ideas on this thread
..scuttles off to browse through cookery books...

piffle Tue 19-Apr-05 11:11:08

we follow a mainly GI based diet too, so that simplifies shopping a lot

TracyK Tue 19-Apr-05 11:34:25

piffle - do you use a gi recipe book - or do you use the principles and make the recipes up?

ggglimpopo Tue 19-Apr-05 11:51:03

Message withdrawn

peckarollover Tue 19-Apr-05 11:55:50

Ooooooooooooh I would also LOVE a copy prufrock if they are up for grabs!

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