Meal Planning question

marie26November 9, 2007

I have a dilemma that probably will seem silly but it's always bothered me. As I've been going through my recipe binders, I really need to figure out how to come up with a menu plan that I'll stick to. The recipes will be organized by course with all the "tried and true" separated from the not yet tried recipes.

The dilemma is when I come up with a meal plan, I don't want to always be cooking the same type of meat so that there will be chicken on Monday, beef on Tuesday and pork on Wednesday, etc. and then start over with chicken, beef, etc. When you plan your meals do you consider roast chicken to be different than a chicken stir fry or roast beef to be different than beef stew? Is spaghetti with meat sauce considered to be a beef meal or a pasta meal? In other words, how do you make sure that there is variety? I've thought that I can choose main courses by regional cooking (Italian, Chinese, etc.) but I'd still want to use different meats.

I hope this makes sense. It's something I have never quite figured out.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have 4 weeks worth of menus that I rotate through. Unless using leftovers, which I like to do the next day rather than let them sit in the fridge, I planned them to use a different meat on consecutive days.

Then I found out that this was only important to me. DH said he doesn't care if he eats the same meat for lunch and for supper on the same day! He said: "They're different meals."

Maybe you could relax your own requirements a bit if your family doesn't care either??

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 7:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have kids and a husband who do care about repeat meats in one week. I am of 2 minds re this. One is-I make great meals usually and they'll have to live with chicken twice in one week once in awhile--this family is hardly suffering!
The second is-I do like to make meals my family enjoys and have a lot of variety.

I actually plan my meals according to the weather if you can believe it. So a cold day might call for beef stew, on an unusually warm day in the fall I might grill. I do try to have just one kind of meat in one week also.

my advice then is--try to plan the menu around something else for awhile-what's on sale, what your mood is like-and then look back and see how much variety there was. My guess is there will be enough.
good luck!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 9:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

marie26: why don't you ask your family your question? They're the ones eating your meals. My guess is that it would be some combination of meat and type of recipe/ethnicity that would determine whether it seemed like too much repetition. But I'm not them.

Most families I know would not balk at having roast beef with veggies one day, spaghetti the next, beef stir fry the next day, and hamburgers the next. Would yours? I've always been able to keep adequate variety by just not serving the same meat on consecutive days. And now I learned that is only important to me--not DH!

Why not find out, rather than worry needlessly? Then decide what to do.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 2:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I asked DH and he won't commit to an answer. It's really not worth pressing him for one. This is probably more for me than him. As I stated earlier, this stems from my going through and culling the recipes I've been saving. I threw out a bunch more last night but still have a lot left that I would like to try.

To be honest, I have been trying to come up with the perfect meal plan for years. While others put their energy into sewing or whatever, I think about recipes and meal planning. Almost to the point of it being a hobby, if that makes any sense.

I really am very curious to know what other people do.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 2:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I really am very curious to know what other people do."

FWIW my family eats chicken probably five nights a week and are mostly just happy to get it :)

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 3:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I never plan meals more than a day or two at a time. I keep the refrig and pantry well stocked and can make most things without needing to go to the store. When I want to make something different than what we typically eat, I pick up what I need the next time I go to the grocery store. I grocery shop about twice+ a week. Produce stand once a week.
That way I alwyas have food (particularly meat) bought at the lowest price, and I always stock up at sales.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 6:04PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well we haven't been doing this for very long, but it's worked well for the last 2 months.

I made a little matrix to help us come up with differnt meal ideas.

Meat column:

Starch column:

style column:

We pick something from each column and try not to repeat a choice from any column in one week... sometimes it leads us to choose old favorites, sometimes it inspires me to try new recipes. It's just a tool to make sure we get a variety because without it we seem to end up eating a week of italian food or thinking 'gee, it's been a month since we had a stirfry'.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 12:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I understand now that you said this is a hobby. This is fun for you! I'll add one other thought to the mix here. I pay attention to the form or format (don't know what to call it) of the entree itself as well as the entire menu. And try not to repeat a format too often, and at minimum not on consecutive days.

Format exs:
*a slab of meat plus veggies
*a bowl of chunks of meat with other contents, and usually liquid (soups, stews, rice bowls) and side salads or whatever else
*another form of one-dish meal, with perhaps a side salad, but appears on a plate or flat pasta bowl, such as spaghetti or other pastas; stir fry over rice
*whole-meal salad
*sandwich plus a side dish
*other bread-based meal: focaccia, pizza, etc., plus a side salad
*traditional eggs and meat breakfast for supper (a winter favorite for a change, esp. since we're old and have been told to eat oatmeal or cold cereal for actual breakfasts)
*finger-foods meal, esp. in summer (raw veggies/hummus, guacamole, other dip; plus hot chicken fingers or similar)

Hope this is of interest to you. I thought of my former inlaws this a.m. and this came to mind. They grew up in the country and kept a house there but lived at the beach. He was a contractor. He had NEVER eaten, and swore he never would eat a sandwich or a hamburger. And had never eaten at a fast food restaurant. In N.C. they had their own wonderful style of dry, smoked pork bbq. But they ate it on a plate with hot veggies on the side, warm sliced bread, and coleslaw. Never on a sandwich.

Their small beach town, and of course the nearest town to their country home, was full of cafes where he always had his workday lunch. It was the same meal format as they ate at home, midday and evenings for every meal their entire lives: a meat, lots of fresh veggies (whatever was in season and in the gardens locally), hot bread. And when they ate out they went to a family style restaurant that passed around--guess what?! Big platters of meats, big bowls of veggies, and baskets of hot biscuits and cornbread!

MIL was bored out of her mind with cooking this way. It was a huge treat for me to eat that way on visits, rushed city girl that I was back then. But for my entire life, it'd get real old. Mix it up for me!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 8:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Marie, this was an interesting post. I get in a rut because my husband travels a lot, out of town for about 9 out of 10 weeks. I'm happy eating the same thing for about three days, but dh isn't too fond of leftovers. I go through my recipe file for inspiration, and sometimes it just doesn't work. Sometimes I just go to the market and tell myself I'll fix what looks good that day. I've even been known to say to a fellow shopper "I'm fresh out of ideas, what are YOU having for dinner tonight?" Amazingly, some of the best ideas happen that way.

I know, not too efficient, wastes some time, but time I got, ideas not always.


    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 11:01AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't plan my meals that far ahead. When I do cook, I always I make enough so there will be leftovers. I try to avoid the same meat two times in a row. So I wouldn't have fried chicken Sunday and roast chicken Monday. I have got very good at using the microwave to re-heat leftovers.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 11:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Our dinners generally go by what meat I bought on sale. We are on a fairly tight food budget per week. So I usually will buy a variety & plan my meals around those.

However, I usually never have the same meat 2 nights in a roll--I do mix it up: beef, pork, chicken, ground turkey, fish & one vegitiarian meal (usually the veg. meal is when dh is not home, because he likes his meat).

My favorite site is (there are many others) & I'll put in the ingred. I have and it will give recipes which have been rated. People not only rate the recipes, but, also give idea's on how to make the recipe even better. Chances are if the recipe has high ratings you can depend on it being a good dinner.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 12:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

bspofford: That's hilarious, and a great idea! It's just the kind of thing I would like to do (ask fellow shoppers what they're having).

I heard one woman say her planning got a lot easier and her complaints a lot fewer when she told her family she'd cook anything they wanted, but they had to plan the menus. It's the stewing (pun intended) over the menu that gets to me. (I'm very unlike marie, who considers my agony her joy.)

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 3:21PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Cleaning Service--what do you have them do?
I enjoy reading this forum and now understand the difference...
Getting rid of part of an item- WWYD
Okay, here's the question: I have a larger, aluminum...
Organizing/de cluttering success (please share yours too!)
I cleaned out and organized the tool box! We live in...
I am donating like a madwoman!
In 2006, we put our home on the market, and to get...
under sink organization (kitchen)
Had to share this photo. It is perfect use of the dead...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™