I probably should have started a support group. A group of people to cheer me on through the ups and downs of starting something new.
Yes, I’ve finally jumped on board the Meal Planning Train. A summer full of millions (millions, I tell you) of minute decisions that only I could (or would) make has made me run full steam ahead back into the safe and caring arms of Routine. <cue cozy blanket and fetal position>
Ah, Routine. You make my heart sing. You make everything….easier.
The first two weeks were great. I totally get the amazonian compulsion to give five stars to something you just started using this morning. I love it! This is amazing! Why didn’t I try this before! Everyone should try it!
The next two weeks were great. (And 21 days makes a habit, right?). We cut our eating out expenditures into about one sixth of what it was. Take that, Achilles. Big pats on the back for me, by me.
I made several versions of a meal plan and decided to go with the “make one big pot of beans at the beginning of the week and then have Variations on Bean for the rest of the week”. We had Pinto Week, Black Bean Week, and Garbanzo Week. I did sketch in an Asian Week – but only 1/3 of the family would be satisfied at any given time.
I finally realized that paying an extra five dollars for something special at the grocery store (avocados! peaches!) is a way better deal than taking a family of six out to eat. It sounds like a no brainer, but I ask you this – when you read about household budgeting, what is usually the first thing to take a hit? The grocery budget. And I bought into it. Grocery budget is a place to cut, not a place to increase.
Apparently I am not the average grocery shopper, because if I cut my grocery budget any more, we wouldn’t have anything to eat. I love what Renee says about grocery budgets — basically she says that it takes a lot of money to feed a family good food and it’s worth it. My new philosophy and Devo and I are both jazzed. Abundance.
But I digress.
After culinary success and psychological enlightenment, Weeks Five and Six weren’t so great. And now is when I’m wishing there were people out there cheering me on because my own cheering mechanism has petered out. <cue sound effect of mechanism petering out>
Some notes towards the long-term success of this project.
Variety is important. I think this is where my Train began to derail. I got sick and tired of meals that contained tortillas or chips. Like, I’m going to hurl if you make me eat one more haystack. (Haystacks, in case you don’t know, are a quintessential Adventist meal. Think taco salad on a bed of chips. Kinda.)
Grocery shop regularly and with an eye toward abundance. And here’s where we fell off altogether. Extra expenses this last pay period had me thinking that we could just eat out of the pantry. Warning: This is a death knell to the Meal Plan. You can’t cook from a Meal Plan if you don’t have the ingredients for the Planned Meal. You can eat, but it won’t be pretty. (Hello to the minimum of three meals my family walked away from virtually untouched this week).
30 minute meals are where it’s at. Change my name to Rachael, I’m a 30 minute meal kinda gal. 30 minutes? I can handle that day in and day out. More than that? I’ll crumble under the commitment. Know thyself.
Any other meal planners out there? (And if it’s not a success story, let’s wait until next week to hear it when I’m feeling more optimistic, okay?)