Saturday, July 12, 2008

Planning Meals

I remember a trip we made to the mountains of Colorado a few years ago. We were sharing a cabin with some good friends, and I was the main cook. So I sat down and did what I always do when I'm going shopping for food: I made a menu plan. When my friend saw what I'd done, she chuckled. See, she is one of those born-organized people who never has to plan her meals, because she can walk in the store and remember what she has at home and what she needs to feed her family that week. She can also resist impulse buying, which is a big money pit for many people, myself included. My menu and grocery list were foreign to her . . . and quite funny too! ;)

I've been planning menus since shortly after my husband and I married more than 23 years ago. I'm not an expert at it, but I can't shop without it. This week, Leanne sent out an essay through FlyLadyMentors on laying out our food, just like we lay out our clothes for the next day. Her essay struck a chord with me because I've found that planning our food helps me in several ways.

First, with my being diabetic, planning our food helps keep me (us!) on track with the way I'm supposed to be eating. By planning what we'll eat, I make sure that there are the kinds of food that I need to stay healthy, along with the less-healthy things my husband and children can enjoy; planning allows me to include both. Planning also helps me keep things in balance - enough of the right kinds of carbs, enough protein, enough veggies. You get the idea! Planning what I'll eat - and sticking to it - helps me keep my blood sugar in control, which means fewer extremes of highs and lows (still working on those highs!). The best thing about making sure that I eat well is that the way I have to eat is how everyone is supposed to eat; it's good for everyone to plan for good food, have a good balance of the food types, and keep their blood sugars level! Therefore it's good for my family.

I would be lost when it's time to cook if I didn't have a menu plan! I don't (usually) have to worry each morning about what I'll fix for dinner that day; I can just look at my menu. I don't have to dig in the pantry or freezer to find something to slap together at the last minute. Because I know what I'm going to fix, I have the luxury of preparing the various components of the meal ahead of time. I can chop veggies, mix up bread dough, make a salad, or put an entire meal in the crockpot early in the day, freeing me to do other things during the hours leading up to dinner time. Then, when it's time to cook, I can pull the meal together quickly. I love this part! I don't necessarily like fixing things ahead of time, but boy do I love having it ready to throw together when the time comes! That ease of preparation motivates me to prepare early . . . because I have a plan that tells me what's on the menu for the day.

Not being independently wealthy, menu-planning saves us money, plain and simple. We shop for most of our groceries once a month. My menu plan for the month allows me to see what we need, including ingredients for any new or special dishes that I don't normally fix, so that I get what we need without getting things we don't need. This leads to less waste, which saves us money. We have little need for impulse food buying, such as running out for fast food, because I've planned our meals and I have the ingredients in the house that we need. Incidentally, having all our ingredients also keeps me from having to run to the store for a forgotten ingredient, which saves time and money. And now we've come full circle - not as much junk food. That saves us money and doctor's bills! ;)

Like I said, I don't always execute my plans perfectly. I still forget ingredients at times, and we still end up with food we don't necessarily need. My husband shops with me, and sometimes he vows that things just jump into the cart that I don't see till we get to the checkout. Things like Pop Tarts and chocolate milk and cookies - my man is a junk-food magnet, I tell you! ;) Those Pop Tarts just don't have a chance when he walks by. The point is, I do so much better when I have a plan, which is what FlyLady teaches us all the time. Even if I don't always follow the plan perfectly, I have it in place as a guide, helping me take better care of myself and my family.


cherylharrell (Mrs Harrell) said...

Interesting & good post on your menu plan. I do one for each week for the days I eat at home.

Tues we don't eat at home as we do grocery shopping & other shopping that day. We get home too late for me to cook so we eat out. A coupla friends from church have been meeting us to eat out so they eat with us when they can.

Thurs nite Mikes cousin has us come over and eat with them & have a Bible study with the. Fri nites we go visit my folks & eat with them.

Sat Mike & I go shopping just to have fun going out together & eat out. Sundays after church I eat out with my folks after I take Mike home from church (my folks go to the same church we do) & Mike watches his ball game while I eat & visit with my folks. So I pick him up something cheap from a fast food place for him to eat. It would be too much cooking for just one,

So I cook on Mon & Wed & then sometimes on Thurs if Mikes cousin isn't able to have us over. IF we need to go to the pharmcy or drs, I try to plan that to be on Tuesdays so we are doing that on grocery day & not having to clog up another extra day going out & then having to eat out.

There are 2 diabetic cooking magazines Diabetic Cooking & Healthy Cooking & the Better Homes & Gardens diabetic magazine which I like to buy when they come out. I love to try out the recipes in them. Gives us a neat variety to choose from to cook. I also alot of times try to make enough for 2 meals so I can stretch a meal out. I don't like to unprepared & wondering what to fix.

When I make out my grocery list, I not only write down what I need but also look at issues of the magazines to figure out what I want to cook. Once I figure out what recipes I want to cool for the week, I write down on my list the list of ingredients I need to fix them with that I don't have. Hubby tells me if he needs anything special like snacks for him & lets me know if we're out of something I'm unaware of. after hubby got diabetes & I had to cook diabetic for him, it helped me not only in being prepared for when I got diagnosed with my diabetes but also helped me learn how to cook. before he got diabetes I couldn't cook worth a lick. Now I cook homeade stuff & love eating it.

Our groceries run about $80 a week. I shudder to think how much they'd be if we didn't eat with my folks & Mikes cousin once a week.

The bible studies are good & fun. It's hubbys cousin & her hubby & an elderly lady she is friends with from her church, Mike & I & sometimes the next door neighbor when she is up to it. We also enjoy visiting & fellowship. Sorry for ramblin on so but that's my basic mean plans how they go.

Susan said...

Cheryl, thanks so much for sharing your meal plan! That's part of the community of blogging, sharing what works for each of us.

cherylharrell (Mrs Harrell) said...

Thanks! I've been enjoying your meal plans. Sounds yummy. I found out some bad news yesterday. Found out from my mom that she just got diagnosed yesterday with diabetes. My grandma had it & my dad does. My late uncle ( My dads brother) had it. At least my mom knows how to cook for the diabetes cuz she had been fixing diabetic friendly stuff not only for my dad but when Mike & I come over each Friday. She's handled the diagnoses very well tho. Better than me. I still hate my diabetes. This week I want to take a pound cake recipe I found in the paper last week & convert it to diabeti by using the Splenda with sugar stuff in it Sounds like it'd be good God Bless