Friday, December 6, 2013

The Menu Plan Failure

I have a confession to make.
It's a big one. 
I despise menu planning!  
I have tried for years to succeed at it but I just don't.  I love the idea of being organized and sticking to my plan but half the time I look at what's on my menu and I'm not in the mood to eat what I've planned or I get distracted and it's five so I need something quicker than what I've planned so I end up winging it.  Really there are a lot of "issues" I have here so I have decided to quit menu planning and instead I "non-plan." 
I'm actually saving money this way because we are still eating at home most of the time and I am no longer driving myself crazy so it's a win win for me.  I hope some of you can use this non-planning method and save yourself a headache or two.  
I get a basket of produce once a week from a co-op on Saturday, so I never know what will be in there.
On Wednesday or Thursday, I look around and see if there is anything that we are out of that we need and how we are on meat, eggs, cheese, and any canned items we use.  
I ask the kids and husband if there is anything special they want for the week and if there are any recipes that I want to make (I have become obsessed with playing with new recipes lately) I add those ingredients to the list.  From there I head to the store. 
The first place I head to is the meat department.  I have been finding marked down meat lately on Wednesday and Thursday's and have been stocking up.  Last week I found grass fed meatballs on clearance, a dollar a package!!!  I buy meat that looks good and is on sale or affordable.  I also try to buy bigger cuts because we are a family of six and my three boys can EAT!  I would rather buy a whole chicken than just a package of thighs plus then I can make bone broth from the bones and we can have soup for lunch the next day.  I will also buy the giant packages of meat so that we can eat leftovers for lunch or I can freeze half of it to pull out one night I don't feel like cooking.  
The next place I head is the canned goods area (mainly because it's the next place in the store I shop).  I always try to keep canned tomatoes on hand (I aim for bpa free and organic).  You can do so much with canned tomatoes so they are one of my favorite staples.  I also try to keep tuna, rice, and tons of different spices on hand.  
From there I hit the frozen foods.  I always have frozen broccoli, mixed veggies, and green beans on hand.  Most of the other produce I buy fresh but these are just ones I prefer frozen, plus they are good to have if you are running low on produce.  The mixed veggies I toss in with rice and diced chicken to make a stir fry.  Broccoli is good sauteed in garlic and butter and green beans are just GOOD!  
Then I head to the dairy section.  I get my milk from a farmer so I don't need to worry about that.  My kids eat eggs daily so I always have to stock up on those (yes, I'm the weirdo that buys six to eight dozen eggs at a time).  I also make sure to have fresh cheese on hand, my kids LOVE cheese!
From there I hit the produce area.  I only grab stuff there if we are low on something and we won't make it until we get our box.  My favorite go tos are; carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, avocados, apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, and spaghetti squash.  
So I'm done shopping, what's next you ask?  
Simple, I make what I feel like.  In the morning or the night before I pull out what I feel like cooking.  If I know it's going to be a busy day I toss stuff in the slow cooker.  If it is a day I feel like playing with a new recipe I will do that.  You can never go wrong with roasting a chicken or cooking some ground beef and throwing in some veggies to go with it.  I still have a plan the only difference is that I'm not stressing out if I don't follow the plan.  
My only rules are that I only go to get groceries at the store once a week and that I don't let anything go bad.  By following those two rules I have found a lot of new uses for using up ingredients AND I have saved us some money too!
What about you, do follow a meal plan or a non-plan?

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