Dear 100 Hour Board,
How do you plan dinner? How do you budget? How often do you go shopping? What works best for you? We are really struggling in our family and we end up eating the same things every week. Any suggestions would be helpful!
-My Name Here
Whatever cravings I want for dinner, I make! (If anyone hasn't caught on yet, I'm pregnant.)
On a more serious note, I try to look what we have in the fridge and pantry first to see what I can make. For example, I noticed recently that the celery isn't looking as crisp, so I made a recipe last night that used up the rest of my celery. That way I didn't have to worry about throwing away bad celery and feeling like I wasted money.
I also have a Pinterest board of Dairy Free 'Tried It' Dinners and 'Want to Try Dinners'. If I get bored of the usual routine, I go to the second board and choose a recipe that I hopefully don't have to go out and buy a ton of ingredients. I just went shopping today and I bought the ingredients for a slow cooker Cashew Chicken recipe. Only thing I needed to buy that I didn't already have was cashews.
Another thing that I've noticed is that when I'm on Pinterest I see certain food websites being repeatedly pinned. While it has an expletive, I've never made a bad recipe from Damn Delicious. She even has her own cookbook so you know she must be good. I've tried her:
- Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce - added pineapple since I saw another satay recipe with pineapple
- Chicken Noodle Soup - I added a bit more chicken flavoring and then it was perfect.
- Olive Garden Knock-off Soup Pasta E Fagioli - Literally one of my favorite recipes. I find the OG one to be a bit too spicy for my liking. I converted this to be a Crock-Pot recipe, just add more liquid and add the dry pasta 30 minutes before serving.
My Mom, sisters, and I send each other recipes that we like, and we're all busy so they're usually Crockpot recipes or quick. That way we get some variety of different recipes. You could start this with really anyone that you feel like is a good cook. I asked Quixotic Kid for some of her dairy free recipes and got some that way as well.
We used to go to Walmart multiple times a week because we lived so close to it in Provo (or Smith's). But now we live up north and the closest one is 12ish minutes away (not bad, but I'm tired and pregnant). So now we only good once a week and I take my time making sure I don't forget certain ingredients.
I also have this (currently unavailable) magnetic dry erase Weekly Calendar Whiteboard on my fridge. I try to look at what we have in the fridge on Sunday and prep for what I should make for the upcoming week. I always ask Carl what he wants for dinner this week and he always replies, "Food." He's so helpful...
We also don't really budget, but I really try to stick to what's on the list and we usually spend about $50/week or a little bit less at Walmart. (That's including toiletries, cleaning supplies, and other random things you find at Walmart.)
I made minnow a scrapbook cookbook a year ago, complete with "healthy" recipes I found online, my favorite recipes, pictures of us, and lots of space to add new recipes. It's turned into the only cookbook I really use since I know I like most of the recipes in it. I also own several recipe books, both online and in print, but since I'm horrible at flipping through them I've written down all the recipe names I'm interested in and their respective cookbooks on a large piece of paper, and stuck that paper in my scrapbook cookbook.
I try and do dinner planning on Saturday mornings or Sunday evenings. I pull out my scrapbook cookbook and find the meals I want to make that week. Sometimes it's "I'm really craving spicy tuna spinach pasta" and sometimes it's "I have no idea let's go down this list of all the recipe names I'm interested in." I have a whiteboard weekly calendar and keep track of the meals that way. If you do this, don't forget to have two or three scheduled leftovers day, because wasting food is the saddest thing ever. After the weekly meal schedule is set, I write down all the ingredients I need and head to the store that day or the next, which means I'm grocery shopping usually once a week.
I don't really budget. I know from experience what's cheaper and what's more expensive - so for example, I'll always buy the store brand. I also know the things we eat a lot (chicken, lunchmeat, pasta, etc.) so I try and stock up on that in bulk whenever we head to Costco, which is once every few months. I try to stick to the shopping list and only buy the necessary items. I've also had to get good at finding out how quickly we eat certain foods so I wasn't buying food that would spoil before we could get to it. RIP the three salads I bought at once.
I've found what really motivates me to make good food is minnow. I really want to make him delicious food that will make him never want to leave me happy. But because he's so busy with classes and such, there's too many days where 6 pm rolls around, minnow texts me that he's getting dinner on campus since he's staying late, and I end up ignoring my meal calendar and eating mashed potatoes with loads of cheese. This is another reason you have those leftovers days - even if you don't have leftovers, there will be one or two days that you just don't want to cook. Figure out how often this occurs for you and plan accordingly. It's totally fine and normal to not want to cook, just make sure you're not buying (and then wasting) excess food.
Also if you want any recipes ideas please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I'd love to share my favorites with you.
-guppy of doom
My girlfriend I meal plan and do shopping on Saturday. We have a weekly food budget, and we've gotten pretty good and guessing about how much everything is gonna cost. It helps that we get a lot of the same groceries from week to week.
We repeat dinners a lot, but we try to cook something new once a week. If we like it we put it into the rotation. For example, we had pork chops with mashed cauliflower the other week and it was bomb so we did it again this week. This weekend we're gonna try Philly cheesesteak soup.
Also, we're making a cook book together! The most important thing is gonna be the table of contents because it'll remind us of all the different things we make. Then before we can go shopping we can look at the list and pick a few out.
Hope this helps!