Monday, July 16, 2012

Meal Planning Sites

After my last post, I tried prioritizing a few things in terms of what was bothering me the most and what seemed to be the biggest issues.  I found that dinner seemed to be the root of a lot of my angst. After a long day at work, I have a long evening of parenting, cleaning, paying bills, advising my girls of poise and purpose, laundry, and bottle washing before I even get to think about dinner.

I figure if I can get dinner under control, it would solve the poverty issue, the time issue, and a lot of this stress.  My solution: meal planning!

First, I found this blog:, which is a really great account of how a woman in NC stopped eating processed foods completely.  Now, while I try my best to eat as little processed food as possible, I genuinely enjoy my instant oatmeal, Dunkin Donuts, and pizza.  But when I cook, I really don't use processed food, so the recipes and meal plans were great inspiration for me.  There are also a few weekly menu plans, but the odd ingredients (coconut oil, almond butter, etc.) just don't really work for us and the grocery stores I have available.

Then I found another blog:, which is similar in ethos to 100 days of real food, but modified all of the recipes for bulk cooking and freezing and even has a shopping list and portion adjustable menus.  I downloaded the July menu, and I was pretty impressed.  Because you can adjust the menus to however many of you there are, it really takes the guess work out of things.  Even the shopping list adjusts when you change the number of portions.  I was even able to delete recipes that I didn't want to do (ham, yuck), which was really nice. 

I've made a few of the recipes (which are taken and adjusted from other websites) so far, and they've been pretty good.  I also substituted a few things (couldn't find sweet chili paste and I wasn't about to make my own tortillas when I'm trying to save time), but most of the ingredients were really easy to find and I already had many of them in my pantry. 

Enchiladas pre-oven
The one recipe I managed to get pictures of was the Thai Enhcillands.  They sound weird and I wasn't sure it would work, but there were really good and it was perfect for a night when we were tired and didn't want to do ANYTHING.

I'm not sure that I saved any time doing things this way, but it definitely saved me a lot of stress since so much less thinking was involved.  I even managed to get out of the grocery store for less than $150 for about 3 weeks worth of groceries and do that in under an hour...

Biggest take away from this part of my experiment--when I have the time, energy, and ingredients, I need to make a few extra servings and freeze it. 

Biggest advantage found so far--we didn't get takeout (or even suggest it) once last week...$!

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