Sunday, April 14, 2013

Menu Planning #myheartdayresolution

Menu planning is easy, it's even fun. It's sticking to the plan that's hard. But I'm muddling through and it's been good for us. Family dinner almost every night, on time, almost. And no more wandering aimlessly through the grocery store. Not that that isn't fun...

Advantages to Menu Planning

Menu planning saves money
When you do your grocery shopping according to a menu, you will by more of what you need and less of what you don't. When you wander around the store, uninspired, you buy all kinds of weird stuff you don't need. You also might save money on gas with fewer unplanned trips to the grocery store as well as the savings you get by not resorting to the late night party store.

Planning your meals improves nutrition
When you plan your meals ahead of time, you are more likely to eat those things you planned to eat like veggies and lean proteins, and less likely to eat unplanned things, like donuts and hamburgers. Unless donuts and hamburgers are your thing. You're also more likely to plan complete meals and have everything on hand to prepare complete meals.

Planning meals cuts back on waste
You only buy what you need, so you throw away less. No more moldy cheese, questionable cold cuts or freezer-burned salmon.

Menu planning saves time
Yes, it takes a bit to look over your sales fliers and check out what's going on in your cupboards, but a few minutes once a week saves you time day to day with fewer emergency food runs and less time fiddling around in the afternoon trying to figure out what you're going to make for dinner.

Planning your meals promotes family dinners
Family dinners are important. They develop healthy eating habits in your children, encourage communication among family members and reduce stress. And of course they are traditions that bind the generations together.

Menu Planning Resources

I highly recommend, as it has great menu planning resources coupled with a family calendar. It also allows you to store your recipes and copy recipes from other websites, as well as providing recipe suggestions of their own. After you fill your calendar up with recipes, you can tell it to automatically create a shopping list for you. Then you just check it against what you have on hand and voila! all that's left is a shopping trip.

Now, I find this difficult to use because of my cantankerous printer. I have to print everything out. However, those people who have those nifty little devices like tablets can download the ap and have everything they need right there, without having to print out anything.

A pen and paper method that is much more feasible for my technically challenged self is the Magnetic What to Eat Pad. Goes write up on the fridge, easy peasy. Or print out one of these Menu Planning Worksheets.

My Menu Planning Process

1. I made a list of all of my recipes, asking my family for input as to their favorites. I listed all the ingredients in these. (I am inspired by this to create a cook book to gift my children with as they move out.) This goes right in my Book of Shadows since homemaking is a major part of my path.

2. I created for myself a weekly guideline for which meals to prepare on which days. On Monday it's vegetarian (not just meatless as we're not really meat people anyway, we're cheese and egg people) and Friday is fish. Since food is delivered on Thursday, Wednesday night is leftover night, to get rid of last weeks extras and make room for the new stuff.

3. Each week, I take a quick glance at my grocery store's website, which has an electronic version of the sales circular and I check to see what will be arriving in my Door to Door Organics box that week and select appropriate recipes from my list for each day, keeping in mind how quickly some of my delivered veggies will begin to wilt.

4. I make a grocery list based on what I have and what I need.

5. I go shopping.

Some Problems With the Process (and Possible Solutions)

People eating my stuff!
Oh yea, these boys, they eat anything and everything. Half a can of pasta sauce to make pita pizzas. Half a bag of pita bread. Giant handfuls of walnuts. Then when it's time for me to cook, I've got half of what I need!
Possible solutions
1. Put snack stuff in a special section in the fridge. You're allowed to eat from here, no where else.
2. Divide up food for meals and store them conspicuously so they know what's off limits.
3. Maybe a combination of both?

Schedule Changes, Screws Everything Up
So when the unexpected happens or I'm feeling like absolute crap, things don't get cooked when they're supposed to get cooked. The whole system goes haywire and things end up wasted.
Possible Solutions
1. When I have to skip a day, cook twice and freeze the extra the next day.
2. Get other people to cook on bad days.
3. Schedule in unplanned days.

Last Month's Goal - Get Active
My goal to be more active is coming along. I am making a point of taking the baby on an outing every day that I am home with him. It's really necessary because I am weaning him so I can go on some necessary medications and it's much easier to distract him from wanting to nurse when we'er out and about so that's an additional motivation. On nice days we go to the park, on not so nice days, we go to the museum. I bought a museum membership so it's easier. I am also making use of the Wii Fit and Xbox 360 games that involve movement. The baby especially enjoys Xbox Party. Getting to the gym, not so easy. I also do some active kids videos with him. Like Bo on the Go, but I'm not excited about that, so I hope to come up with something better soon. I am pleased with my progress this month.
Activity this week: Walking: 2 at the park, 2 at the museum, 2 with dogs Dancing: 0 Baby Video: 2 Yoga: 2 Fitness Center: 0

Weight: 185.1
BMI calculation: 30.85
Waist measurement: 39
Hip Measurement: 44
Waist to Hip Ratio: .89

MyFitnessPal - Free Weight Loss Tools

Next Month's Goal/Habit: Packing a Lunch