Adventures in Meal Planning & Funny Gchat Conversations

I need to go to the grocery store, like desperately.  No really guys, I’m not in the least prepared for the zombie apocalypse right now (or just an average week of feeding myself, for that matter).

My fridge currently contains:

  • Butter
  • Almond milk
  • Eggs
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Grapefruit Sparkling Water

My pantry contains:

  • Brown rice
  • Whole Wheat Spaghetti
  • Quinoa

Now I can get creative and make fridge clean-out frittata, or impromptu pasta with the best of them… but this is just not enough to work with. If my life were wheel of fortune I’d be asking Pat to buy a vegetable right about now.

I don’t like to head to the grocery store without a plan of action (read: I don’t like to go most places without a plan of action.  I’m sort of a nervous person.)  This afternoon while eating lunch at my desk I put pen to paper to whip up a quick meal plan….

I didn’t get very far.

I started scouring my favorite resources for meal ideas.  I can always count on Maggie’s blog archive  for delicious eats (we are flavor twins I’ve decided).  I also looked through my Martha Stewart Everyday Food app. Pinterest was a mess of crockpot nonsense I wasn’t interested in.  Nothing was jumping out to me… Enter my good pal Lauren, of “ohmypuddin” fame.  The following is a transcript of our Gchat conversation.

Lauren: I have these meal planning sheets from real simple you might like. They have pretty much everything on them, so you just check the things you need.
Elizabeth: I really like lists. Even if I just throw the list away, the act of making one is so soothing to me.
Lauren: Me too. I’m going to text you a pic.
Elizabeth: Useful resources are overrated.
Lauren: I love these real simple lists. You’ll see why. I write what we’re having each day on the back, and then fill out the ingredients on the front and then I put it up on the fridge.
Elizabeth: Sounds handy.
Lauren: If the recipe is from a magazine, I put the mag and the page number on it too.
Elizabeth: OMG. Now I’m freaking out Do you have a special binder you keep them in and then a numbering system for those binders?
Lauren: Ha! No.
Elizabeth: Once the binders are numbered do you put them in color coded baskets?
Lauren: Because I am crazier than that, no. I cut the recipe out and tape it to a piece of paper.
Elizabeth: I’m totally kidding…
Lauren: and then I put it in a binder.  Oh. I am not. I do all of that.
Elizabeth: It puts the lotion on its skin!
Lauren: Or else it gets the hose again!


This is why we are friends. It’s important to have friends who are the same shade of crazy as you.

Ok back to meal planning – what’s your approach?  I find that templates and checklists aren’t very helpful for me.  And because I’m just cooking for one, the network of meal planning blogs isn’t much help either (though I do find great recipes on them). It’s just such a different task to plan a shopping trip and what to cook for one person for a week.  What can I make that will last for several days, be healthy, and not grow boring after several meals back to back?  What recipes could I easily cut in half to feed just one person?  Or maybe I need to be marathon cooking like I’m a family of four, and just freezing most of it?  I haven’t figured it out yet, would love your suggestions.

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4 Responses

  1. Heather says:

    This makes me laugh. I used to use binders, but now have too many unused binders. Now I use file folders which I label and then place my recipes from magazines and blogs. Gluten-free, pasta, vegetarian, vegan, seafood, sides, salads–you get the idea. The most important file is titled “To Make”–which are things that “I must find a reason to make right away.” The files continue to fill up and I continue to cook many of the same dishes over and over again–interspersed with new recipe finds.

  2. Meghan says:

    Haha, I love lists too. I now categorize our grocery list… As for planning, I just write what our meals for the week are on a post-it or on a piece of paper and stick it on the fridge. I usually add new recipe links to a Google Doc spreadsheet or make a note about where I can find the recipe. I am cooking for 2 people but we make a lot of soups and casseroles to eat as leftovers or freeze. What about making a big batch of shredded chicken or pork to portion out and freeze? Also, I am trying to get better about making a big salad that will last a few day. Otherwise, I get lazy about making salads. I hope that helps!

  3. Kate says:

    I do not like the checklist menu planning tools, either. I just decide on my recipes for the week (no binders here…just cookbooks, blogs, and virtually bookmarked recipes from paper magazines), then write out my grocery list – organized by categories in the manner of grocery store layout. I find that I forget fewer things this way!

    • elizabeth says:

      Kate I’m kind of the same – I have no physical archive of recipes, just digital bookmarks and favorite blogs etc. I too like to arrange my shopping list by the path I’ll take through the store! Great minds.

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