Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Dinner Plan


Background

I know people who become frantic about what they are going to eat for dinner every day. I have been that way myself, and it has nearly driven me mad. This is why I have developed a Dinner Plan.

Since my husband and I moved in together, I have handled the shopping and cooking. I think I do both well and I enjoy both tasks. I only really handle dinners, because my husband prefers to buy breakfast and lunch at work. I eat simple breakfasts at home, and usually take dinner leftovers or salads for lunch.

Before this, I had a room-mate who loved to cook, and taking over this responsibility for two people, plus working full-time, has been a challenge in planning and time management for me. Over the last few years, I have developed a plan that seems to work really well. I don't have to worry so much after work, I have a couple of easy nights during the week, and I have time to do other things.

Advantages

This is not an approach for those who are interested in frugality. My husband purchases two meals a day, I do not cook every day, we order in once a week and we eat out twice a week. This is the lifestyle we want to have, we can afford it, and this is partly why we live downtown. We have plenty of high-quality takeout options, and many wonderful restaurants close to home. Also, I pass two good, small grocery stores on my way home. I can be in and out in 10 minutes at both of them, and both are well-priced.

All that said, now that I'm planning, we actually spend way less on food than we did previously. There was a time when we'd order in or go out up to 4 nights a week, because we didn't have a properly stocked kitchen and/or I was just too tired.

Anyway, here is my Dinner Plan. Maybe this will help you organize a plan of your own, and cut down on your stress.

The Plan

Sunday - We handle our own breakfasts and lunch, and I cook something big for dinner that will serve us for two nights. I put my lunch and the next night's meals together. I do this because I have time, and because I am usually very tired on Mondays.

Monday - I tend to shop for fruits and veggies on my way home. We have leftovers, plus salad or soup to stretch out the meal if needed. I usually make a salad for my lunch.

Tuesday - I either cook something for two days, or part of the meal for the next day. For instance, if I'm cooking beans or meat, I will double up on the batch and create something else with it for Wednesday. On Tuesdays, I feel like I am back on track more, and I have the energy to shop and cook as needed. I package leftovers for my lunch for the following day.

Wednesday - I make something simple using ingredients from the previous night's dinner. I tend to do dinner salads, cold plates or pastas. I might even do a quick soup and serve it with salad. Again, I package leftovers or make a salad for my lunch for the following day.

Thursday - We order in. I requested one week night where I do not have to think about dinner, and my husband decided that this means he orders in. Every other week this is also the day my cleaner comes, and we have a grocery order delivered that evening. On the last Thursday of the month, I get a manicure and pedicure, so once a month I have a major treat on a Thursday. I don't even need to pack a lunch for Friday, because my Friday treat is going out for lunch.

Friday - Fun Dinner Day. This day has recently migrated over from Wednesday. Growing up, my dad worked late every Wednesday night, and this gave my mom a chance to cook something not classified as a "proper dinner" by my father. This was the day we got things like tacos and grilled cheese sandwiches. My husband I had Fun Dinner Day on Wednesday for many years. We did not eat together on Fridays because one or both of us often went out on our own with friends, or else, one of us was exhausted and didn't feel like eating much at all. These days, both of us tend to be home on Friday. Since I'm usually feeling tired, I have switched Fun Dinner Day to this day, because fun dinners can be pulled together in a flash.

Saturday - We go out for brunch and possibly dinner, or else we order dinner in. This is generally organized, with my input, by my husband. About once a month or so, I actually feel like cooking on a Saturday.

So there you have it! This is the plan that gets me through the week without much stress around what we're going to eat.

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