meal planning

I have never been great at meal planning.  Well, I take that back, I am pretty great at meal planning, but sticking to said meal plan is slightly challenging for me.  I have tried planning all dinners for a week, I have tried planning just a few meals and hoping to wing it or eat leftovers for the rest of the days.  I could never really stick to anything.  And then I had a revelation.

I decided to sit down and write out all the meals that I typically make, and then the ingredients I need in order to make those meals.  Once I did that, I realized that I had about 30 meals that I can make with most of the ingredients that I keep in my house.  Granted, we don't eat a lot of meat in this house, so most of my meals are veggie and bean based.  Here are a couple of examples:


pizza dough - i make mine from scratch
pizza sauce
veggies (spinach/onions/mushrooms/corn/broccoli/artichokes)

Chili - recipe here

black beans
pinto beans
veggies (onions/peppers/corn)
crushed tomatoes
nacho chips

Fried Rice

veggies (broccoli/cauliflower/onions/peppers/garlic/carrots/parsnips/peas)

Now I have a list of meals in my home binder filed in the "meal planning" section where I also keep recipes I find in magazines and my grocery lists.  We keep a lot of frozen veggies in the house for this reason.  At the beginning of the month I do a large shopping trip to the store for dry beans, flour, and veggies.  We will put all the veggies in the freezer to use throughout the month.  And I also have a day that I cook a lot of beans which then go in the freezer for use later.

This type of meal planning will not work for everyone.  There are people that need an exact recipe, and that might get a little more complicated.  As my list stands, I am able to substitute different things, like the veggies, so I don't get as stressed if I usually put corn in my chili and I don't have any that day, I just leave it out.

And this isn't to say we don't eat any fresh veggies, we love fresh veggies!  We get a lot of them from our winter CSA each week, but they are mainly root vegetables and then frozen or preserved veggies.  And being in Maine, frozen veggies are often the better choice.  I still go out every week to buy random things that I have forgotten, and I still have days where I look at my list and nothing appeals to me, but overall this process seems to work.  Since I have made this list we seem to get take out less, I realize that I have the ingredients to make something I hadn't thought of, and it is relatively easy since I put in the time to get the beans cooked and in the freezer ahead of time.

Do you meal plan?  What is your strategy?


  1. I am awful with meal planning. My husband does a lot of the cooking so it's hard to take that over. It's something I want to work on over the next few months though.

  2. Meal planning is a challange but I'm getting better! Thanks for the chili recipe - yum!

  3. Hi Heather,
    This is a great idea I am going to try. We also eat a lot of beans and no meat. I batch cook brown rice and then freeze. Here is a link to the fried rice recipe we like.

  4. @Tracey - Thanks for the link to the veggie fried rice! That looks awesome!


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