Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Meal planning

One of my greatest failures (and probably a source of quite a lot of expenditure) is my failure to sort out dinner. Yes we are subject to random takeaway evenings. This has become even more expensive now that we live 8 miles from the nearest takeaway and we can't get delivery. The biggest problem is deciding what to cook... for years I've followed my mothers way of "cook what we fancy" and I have resisted planning ahead so that I can buy whatever is on offer and cook what is in the fridge. Sadly I'm not quite as creative as my mother and I'm also not very good at figuring out what to cook.

Randomly generating your main ingredient... take away that decision stress!
To avoid countless evenings spending an hour deciding what to cook, then giving up, I am going to meal plan! To start the process off I have created a 31-day main ingredient list in excel. By listing the various 'base' ingredients, fish, chicken, cheese etc. I have compiled a list for the 31 days of a month. The great thing about this is it is now automated. If I decide I want chicken more or less often I just have to change the 'weighting' and the whole thing updates! I can also just press return on column G and the whole column updates for a new month.

I chose 'weightings' based on what I think is a good compromise between what we really like to eat (meat! or for my husband red meat) and what is healthy. So fish should be eaten twice a week (8 or 9 times in a typical month), and so has a weighting of 8. Vegan meals are on the agenda for health and value for money (I've also found that they make me a more adventurous cook), but coupled with cheese meals  (i.e. basically vegetarian unless the cheese isn't strictly speaking veggie-safe) I didn't want to cook this more than three times a week. I have aimed for weightings that will result on average with (roughly speaking), two fish meals, two chicken meals, two veggie/vegan meals and one red meat meal per week. However, I am sure we will adjust.

So the August meal plan will follow the ingredients list above. Now I just need to come up with a list of recipes to dive into! That should be the fun bit.

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