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How Not Menu Planning Helps Me

For years and years I created a menu plan every month. It started in 2003 when we started to pay off our debts and had a £90 grocery and household budget each month. At this time we'd also taken our car off the road to save more money, and with a steep hill on the way home, we had to be careful. We did try online shopping a couple of times but we had some poor quality vegetables and rubbish substitutions, not to mention no yellow stickers, so it was a no go for us. 

Even when our budget wasn't tight I continued to plan for various reasons, the main one being that I didn't want to get cooking block and find myself standing in the pantry just before teatime with not a clue what to make. The times change though and over the past few months I've moved away from it, and I feel it has been beneficial. Without a plan I prevent cook block by having at least part of a meal ready to go, cook double for the following day, or at the very least I have a couple of ingredients I know I want to use so that's my starting point. When it comes down to it that's all I need to get going.

We've never been huge food wasters as planning means buying only what is needed anyway but not planning hasn't increased waste at all, in fact I tend to under buy these days as I'm conscious of waste. In fact I tend to only really think about evening meals for five days of the week as there will always be leftovers from at least one dish, and there's always enough for a pantry meal or twelve so I don't need to cram the fridge full of fresh food. It adds more creativity to cooking too as I can just have a quick look on my phone for a couple of ideas after looking at the ingredients I have. 

This doesn't mean there will never be another plan, I know there will be one around Winter Festival as we're out and about so much that I'll need to keep control of the budget and the fridge so no money or effort is wasted, but for a normal week, I'm happy to relax a little bit, not that I have become a fan of cooking you understand! 

Comments

  1. I can understand how not menu planning can be a good thing. Sometimes our meals tend to be repeated too often with menu planning. It kind of takes the spontaneity out of things, but for the most part I still do it at the moment.

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    1. I started to ease up on planning after Dan mentioned that he didn't care about having different meals all the time. I always tried to add a few new recipes each month, but now I don't worry about that at all, as long as things are broadly healthy eating the same things isn't bad here!

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  2. It sounds like you have mastered shopping/not shopping and cooking/not cooking. Nice!!

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    1. Thanks. I think I kept planning because it made me feel organised but it prevented me from realising I am organised!

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  3. For years I recorded e erythromycin penny spent using a program called Quicken. I could look at the figures and see where the money went, what proportion went on food etc. I knew and I budgeted, and that was fine. But a computer crash lost everything including the back up. And then I realised it was second nature... And I haven't needed it since. Your menu plans are embedded now and you can make the meals instinctively. And this is how it should be...

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    1. Thank you Angela. You're absolutely right as usual.

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  4. One day I hope to not have to menu plan, though my menus are interchangeable and sometimes don't get followed to well.

    God bless.

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    1. I think that's the joy of a plan, even if you don't make what's on the plan it gives you something to react against so it still makes meals easier.

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  5. I tend to plan a little more these days as we are so far out of town so don't go shopping as much as I used to.

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    1. Yes indeed. If I had a reason to plan than I'd certainly go back to it. As I mentioned I will probably do one at the end of the year as we tend to avoid the shops for the last couple of weeks of December so knowing we're covered is great.

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  6. I think about the next day's meal the night before. There's always leftovers to form a basis or an accompaniment to the next meal.
    xx

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    1. I'm just like you in that regard Mum. In fact I was finding more and more I was planning leftovers and rollovers so the plan was writing itself anyway, now I do the same but without writing things down.

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