Do you plan?

angelaidAugust 15, 2012

I love to cook, just hate to figure out WHAT to cook. I make a menu up of five or six dishes that sound good for the week and make up a grocery list from that (usually for DH. I HATE to shop) No set dinner on set days, I just know what we have on hand for whatever sounds good through the week. This week was

Short ribs with a pot of green beans and taters (done!)

Sweet and sour chicken, fried rice and egg foo yong (done!)

Pork tenderloin sandwiches w/potato or pasta salad

Stuffed peppers

On off nights where I don't feel like cooking, plenty of leftovers.

Are you a planner or fly by the seat of your pants kinda cook?

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When there were kids at home I planned and made menus and kept a very large pantry...a 150 sq ft room next to my kitchen. Now I have a 12 " pull out pantry and it is usually 1/2 empty LOL. Just DH and I and he does almost all the dinners...he is a wonderful stir-fry cook and loves to make Chinese for us and I am glad to let him. We shop together for fruits/vegs once a week. I buy what looks good and we go from fly by the seat of our pants would be the category:) But we keep plenty of supplies in the freezer and in that 1/2 empty pantry so we can make just about anything for 2 to eat.

Great thread. c

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 11:45AM
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I plan and then change my plans. It's much like getting dressed in the morning - I could decide the night before what I think I should wear, but when I get up in the morning, I have changed my mind.

Last week-end I decided to smoke some meats to have during the week, and so we smoked some hot Italian sausage, a large boneless turkey breast, and two large chicken breasts. We ate the sausage the same days that we smoked them, and then yesterday I used half a breast of smoked chicken with a Caesar salad. Part of the idea was not to have to cook inside during our heat wave. We've been having temperatures in the upper 80s, which makes it too warm in the house to cook, but it is pleasant enough outside to cook and eat. It's still 20 degrees cooler than it was in Texas, and so it's not all that bad.

I tend to keep my kitchen overstocked so that I have a myriad of choices for any particular meal. This is very far from efficient, and I would like to change but do not know how. I try to limit my shopping to week-ends and therefore often have to cook frozen vegetables, but I'm okay with that. The vegetable/fruit market close to my house closed recently, and I do miss it. There are farmers' markets on Tuesday (Culver City, near DB) and Wednesday (Westchester, near me) that we can go to during the week, however.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 11:47AM
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DH works from home and does most of the weeknight cooking. He likes to cook, but does better when we have a plan. Otherwise, he would be running to the store every day and from past experience I know that he always buys things we don't really need on those extra trips, so spends more money that way.

Oh, and he really likes to try new recipes. So, on the weekends I go through some of my cookbooks and do some looking online to find things that I think we'll like and don't involve cooking skills he doesn't possess (but he's learning all the time) and run those by him. Then we make out our grocery list and get everything for those meals, except the items we want fresh (like bread).

At the outset we don't plan which menu is for which day. Based on what's happening during the week, we'll decide each evening what he will cook the following day, then take meat out of the freezer, if necessary. He has pretty much said that doing things this way makes him feel more confident about the cooking.

And we plan for the leftovers as well. If he's cooking a roast one night, we know there will be leftovers. Then he just needs to decide if we'll have the leftover roast just as it was the night before or if he will transform the leftovers into another meal, like burritos or sandwiches, etc.

He has a binder that he likes to put his favorite recipes in after he's tried them and we've decided they're keepers. He still looks for new recipes, but knows he has these to fall back on.

I get to cook on the weekends and usually try to make something special or a bit more involved - partly because I feel guilty that he is doing more than I am in that department. And I usually decide that day what I am cooking and have to run to the store for most of the ingredients.

I think I have a very special guy.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 11:51AM
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Well, I'm definitely a planner since we keep a one year food storage program. But, I don't plan each meal or even a week's worth of meals. I just "shop" from my own little grocery store for whatever sounds good. Obviously though - if it's not in the storage program that particular meal is a no-go unless we make a special trip for an ingredient & that rarely happens. We do large (really LARGE) shopping twice/year and fill in when necessary. We do food budgeting and fund that budget on an annual basis. When it's gone - it's gone. So summer/fall is our largest shopping to prepare for the holidays. Been doing this for 30+ years so have it down to a science. Cheaper, no impulse eating, never run out of anything, less time spent shopping/driving, etc. When our kids were young they could never say, "Mom, there's NOTHING to eat!" lol Downside is that any new product I want to try has to wait until the next "fill-up". No problem - usually by then I've decided I don't really want it anyway. When the kids visit now they always seem to ask, "Mom, may I do a little shopping before we head home? You're better supplied than my grocery store." :)


    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 12:01PM
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We plan all meals the days when I'm at work. I get home too tired to think about doing much. My weekends are cooking marathons when I will do batches of roast chicken, or pasta sauce or pulled pork. Most of this is frozen in meal-sized containers. Then DH who is usually home before me heats whatever is on the menu, and we toss a salad or make a quick veggie dish.

Monday we had Chinese white-cut chicken with garlic sauce. Tuesday was a roast chicken/avocado/chutney sandwich. Tonight is pasta caprese. I think we have pulled pork later in the week, and probably pan bagnat. Weekends I cook dishes which don't freeze well, or foods I see at the local markets.

I've found that many foods can be made in large amounts and frozen. Rice is one, creamed spinach is another. Curries, casseroles, many soups, anything that is slow cooked all do well being frozen and reheated. This way we eat homemade every day despite having a demanding work schedule.


    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 12:02PM
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I'm really big on food prepping. My kids are in constant need of entertainment (when do they start playing with eachother?!!!!) so I find myself prepping bits and pieces here and there while they're awake, then doing as much cooking as possible during nap time. But, like Lars, what I had originally intended to be one thing often ends up as something else. It's always good to have the basics and favorites ready to go, though.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 5:47PM
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Heavens no!....In the days when I worked, I would stop at the store on the way home.
I believe in being spontaneous....there have been times when someone would call and say lets go out to dinner....and I would say I have a roast in the oven....and My DH would say well take it out and we'll eat it tomorrow.

I plan a party but certainly not everyday meals.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 5:59PM
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I'm like Lars, I plan and then promptly abandon my plans. Life just seems to get in the way! I eventually make my "planned" dishes, although it is sometimes weeks later. Thank goodness for the freezer! Many of my vegetables just get cooked or turned into a basic salad instead of the elaborate treatment I had planned for them. I FINALLY made pumpkin ravioli after having it on the planned menu for about a month. What a mess, I won't be doing that again! But fun to try once.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 6:12PM
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I follow a guideline rather than do complete meal planning. Any day can be left out or moved to another day of the week and not wreck the entire week. "Sandwiches" can be wraps, grilled hamburgers, bbq pork/beef/chicken or sloppy joes on a homemade bun, arepas, something between two slices of bread cold or grilled...

Monday- Big Meal
Meat based meal (using a large cut of meat or meat or fish loaf, baked chicken etc.) and traditional side dishes that go with it. It will usually have enough leftover for lunches, possibly meat for sandwiches, the base for soup (chicken carcass), some in the freezer to use later.

Tuesday- Leftovers from Tuesday - may take on a completely different look than the original Monday meal. This summer we have shifted this day to "sandwiches", and when possible made the meal meatless.

Wednesday- Stir-Fry

Thursday- International
Which usually means something with pasta, tortilla or taco shell. Some German and Irish favorites are also served.

Friday- Vegetarian

Saturday- Soup and/or Sandwich

Sunday- Homemade pizza or a dinner salad
Both are a great way to clear out the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 5:19AM
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Oh, I'm a consummate planner. I plan weekly menus, carefully arranging the meals to best take advantage of our schedule and leftovers. I plan for my dietary needs and the days the grandkids eat with us and snacks to keep everyone happy. Then, when I hit the store, the plan begins to change based on what is available and what looks good.

When I start cooking, the plan changes more. Unlike many of you, I have no help in the kitchen (except, occasionally, one of the grandkids), so if I'm exhausted at the end of the day, my options are McDonald's (no thank you!) or simplification--and simplification wins.

Still, I do love to plan.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 7:58AM
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When the girls were home, I was working full time and helping Dad with the farm, plus working a second job. At one point I was also finishing my degree. Planning was a necessity. I'd let the girls sit down with the cookbooks and they each chose 3 evening meals they wanted me to cook. Sunday was whatever happened. Breakfast on weekends usually included enough to freeze and have during the week. Lunch was leftovers for me, school lunches or brown bags for the girls. I had it down to a science.

Then the girls grew up, moved out, got married. I married Elery but we still haven't lived together, LOL, so unless he's here I cook whatever I like whenever I like. If I want just coffee for breakfast, I have it. If I want a brownie with it, I have that too. If I feel like pancakes and eggs for supper, that's what I have. If I don't want anything then I don't bother.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 9:54PM
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