Steph vs Joy: Meal Planning

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{Steph} Oh goodie, goodie, goodie, goodie!  I love everything about feeding my family.  I know… it might sound weird but one of my favorite places in our home is the kitchen.  It’s where all of the fun happens, right?

So for this week’s S vs J post I thought it might be good for all of you to hear the inside scope on how we plan our meals.  Sound good?

Well upon  moving to Arizona I started getting in the habit of going to the grocery store at least 4-5x a week. I’d decide each day what I wanted to make that evening and I’d stop by Basha’s to pick everything up. Although the grocery store was literally across the street from our first apartment I felt like I spent more time at the grocery store than doing things that I loved to do. After about 6 months of this and a thorough analysis of our budget I knew I needed to make some changes to my grocery shopping plans.

I came up with a simple weekly strategy for planning our meal’s.

1. Collect Recipes. Throughout the week I collect recipes from websites, blogs, magazines (I LOVE Cooking Light) and friends.  When I think I might potentially make a recipe I print/rip it out and put it in a folder I have in the kitchen to use on Sunday’s when I meal plan.

2. Choose Recipes. Every Sunday morning I sit down and leaf through my recipes to determine what I need to make that day.  I write each night’s meal on a marker board in our kitchen for easy reference. (For a very cute Menu Planning document Click Here.)

3. Make a list. Based on what I’ll be making that  week, I make a list of the items I need to purchase at the grocery store and when shopping I stick to the list (this will save you lots of $$$ ladies).

4. Cook away.

That’s it ladies!  Easy-peasy!

{Joy}  Sigh.  Ugh.  Blah.  Bleck.  Yes, that is exactly what I think of “meal planning”.  It is something that I revisit time and again.  In fact, JUST this week, I’ve been thinking of yet another method that I’m going to try out.  Now, I’ve tried it Steph’s way “by the recipe” and I was spending way more each month than I was comfortable doing.  So now, I’m going to try an integrated approach… a little bit of recipe AND a little bit of something I like to call flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants.

One thing about our family is that we only eat fresh fruits, vegatables, meat (and cheese, please).  That’s right, no bread, no cereal, and no grains.  So, some of the “filler” foods (what my husband calls ’empty calories’) aren’t an option.  That means I have to get creative with snacks and meals.  (Which is good because we get more vitamins and minerals from the fruits and veggies, but bad b/c we need more of them.)  I thought Steph was going to die laughing when I emerged from my kitchen with a freshly peeled carrot as by afternoon snack.

I like to think of three things when I think about dinner:

1. Meat
2. Veggie
3. Fruit (gotta have something sweet!)

What I struggle the most with is HOW MUCH SHOULD I MAKE?  Oh, and HOW MUCH SHOULD I BUY?

If anyone have found the formula for HOW MUCH to buy each week, please send the link my way: [email protected].  Seriously, I need all the help I can get.

So, if you want solutions, see above.  Obviously, Steph has a system that works for her… I just can’t find one that will work for me.  (Yet.)

{Steph Again.} So that’s it for another week of Steph vs Joy.  As you can see – Joy and I do things VERY differently around our homes but we accomplish the same task – we both put food on the table.  That’s all that matters, right? Till next week…happy meal planning…

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