Monday, October 29, 2012

Magazine Meal Planning

My mom told me about a conversation she had with one of her friends about family meals.  Her friend asked what our "go to" meals were and my mom answered "lasagna".   But truthfully, I can't remember the last time we had any!
We like to try new recipes and have a lot of variety, so I guess we don't really have any 'go to meals'.  Maybe that's part of why Levi will eat just about any food you offer him, or at the very least, take a "no thank you bite".

So one of our biggest issues is keeping track of recipes we want to try, we are often searching through magazines, pintrest recipe lists, and recipe books to find "that one recipe that had___ in it and looked good".       I've come up with a way to help organize!

Two of our favorite magazines for recipes are Vegetarian Times, and Food Network Magazine.   Food Network tends to have less complicated recipes, plus the format of the magazine is easier to follow.    Of our family of 5, we have 2 vegetarians, and one with lots of food allergies, so we have to accommodate everyone.  The vast majority of our meals are 100% vegetarian so that helps!

So anyways, here is how I do some meal planning with a food magazine, this could easily be adapted for online recipes as well, especially using pintrest.

First, choose your magazine.  Food Network has LOTS in each issue, and most can easily be adapted to vegetarian/allergy friendly.   

Next, go through and pick out what looks good.  I let Levi look through too and fold over pages of things he likes! 

Once you find something you want to make, write down the title of the recipe (use the title in the magazine if it doesn't have a picture index like Food Network) and include the page number (to make it easier to find later)   Then write down all of the ingredients that you will need to buy.   Things that are ALWAYS in your house, you can skip, such as spices, and basic things.  When you write your list, you can change any ingredients you want, like using a different veg, or using almond milk instead of regular, or whatever you'd like. 

As you do this, you will also notice overlaps - maybe a few recipes call for vegetable broth, or parsley or whatever.   This can help you with deciding what to have when, because maybe you want to use up that parsley within a couple days so it doesn't turn into green slime in the bottom of your fridge, so you will plan to have those two meals the same week.   Or if several recipes call for green apples or tomatoes, you might buy a whole bag instead of just a few because you know you will use more.  

Cut out the set of ingredients, like the pic below.   

And stick them back in the magazine on the right pages (its best to cut them out and stick them in the pages as you go, instead of spreading them all over the place)

Now, when you make your grocery list, you will just put your basic items and household stuff on it,  and grab the little lists from your magazine of whatever you plan to cook.   You can either just carry the small lists with you (which is what I do, I tape them to the big list) or transfer the ingredients to your main list (which is a pain, but my dad likes to do it).   

Then just make your meal, knowing you have everything you need!  

  These were yummy Italian cabbage wraps, modified to be totally vegan!    

That's it!  I probably made it sound more complicated than it really is, but it works for our family, and doesn't take up much time.  I also like that its not a "set" day of the week that you have to have each meal, its easy to adapt as much as you want because each list is separate and easy to grab on your way to the store.    

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Great article! The irony is that I already do this with my fav mags, Cooking Light (subscriber for 7 years!) and Eating Well (my new fav!), but still continue to think that I NEED to start meal-planning! lol I guess I didn't look at it as budget meal-planning and thought I needed to revamp my whole style. I'm really inconsistent about it (do it one week and not the next) and could overlap ingredients more to save more. This makes me feel a ton better about what I'm already doing! Why change? I can just tweak my process a little and get more consistent :) Thanks again!