Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How menu planning works in the Cake household

The easiest (and most boring) way to save money on food - and to eat better - is to menu plan. There are heaps of ways of doing this, from a very vague we'll-have-steak-on-Tuesday type plan to a precise monthly calendar of meals with colour coded themes (yes, Pinterest, I'm looking at you).

This (old) photo of my sister's menu plan demonstrates that my she got
all the Pinterest-worthy menu planning genes in our family. 
In the Cake household we're somewhere in between. We (loosely) plan our menu fortnightly. At the moment we're mainly using My Food Bag recipes (we subscribed for a year so have lots), and to plan I flick through the folder and put post-it flags on the recipes for that fortnight. Then we just peel off the label once we've cooked the meal - it means it doesn't matter who's cooking, they can see what the remaining menu options are (I'm still waiting for a benevolent stranger to turn up and offer to make dinner for us so the system can come into its own... Anyone?).

I generally only choose five or six dinners, because (due to laziness) we usually aim to cook enough to leave leftovers for a second night, though as the Little Monkey scales up his eating we're constantly adjusting quantities and sometimes get this wrong.

The main selection criteria is that there's variety. We like to have a couple of vegetarian options because we're not hardened carnivores, but red meat is (especially) good for the Little Monkey for its iron, and we usually try to weave in a fish meal, though we sometimes struggle with sourcing the fish (we have an awesome local butcher but no fishmonger).

Here's our menu for this week and next (oops, no fish):
  • Mushroom and refried bean wraps 
  • Pork roast with broccoli and cauliflower cheese bake and roast spuds
  • Kumara, cauliflower and feta frittata
  • Pork and fennel meatballs with penne and brussels sprouts
  • Pumpkin and feta felafels with poached egg
We don't plan the full fortnight because we know there will be the odd night where either something crops up (like dinner with friends) or life is just not favouring full meal prep, in which case we have a few quick fallback recipes or concepts (scrambled eggs, anyone?).

I like to do my grocery shopping (except the meat) online to avoid temptations, and also because I can do it from the sofa and nip to the pantry to check if we're running low on anything at regular intervals.

I'd love to get a vegie garden up and running so we're less reliant on the supermarket (and so the veg stays in the garden until it's needed), but that's a wee way off yet - there's some landscaping that needs to happen first.

So basically we pretend to be a bit organised but it's all a show... At least compared to the Pinterest-worthy families of the world.

Do you plan your meals out in advance or do you prefer to cook on a flight of fancy?


  1. I'm assuming My Food Bag is one of those make your own meal delivery services - don't they deliver all of the ingredients? There's one here called Gousto that has been very highly rated, I might give it a go - picking recipes that I can take to lunch as leftovers or have two nights in a row as I'm usually only cooking for one!

    1. Yes, that is what they are - but we did the service for a while and now are just reusing the recipes ourselves, which is cheaper and enables me to make substitutes here and there, plus weed out any recipes that took too long. ;-) My Food Bag have just launched a one-person option but I think I'd still want to make double for the leftovers.

  2. I tend to eat my main meal at lunchtime and so I have Primal Kitchen meals delivered to work. They're healthy, yummy, and they give me a good variety. I usually have a light evening meal, something like scrambled eggs or omelette. Because of the meal deliveries I don't shop as much as I used to, but I still love a good wander of the aisles in the supermarket :-)

    1. Nice! I like that strategy. I'm jealous... Sounds so easy!


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