Friday, April 8, 2011

The Meal Planning Adventure!

Meal planning has always been the thorn in my side, the dreaded chore, the reason why I argue with God, asking WHY OH WHY did he make us weak and in need of food. Not only do we need food, but we need it at least 3 times a day!! Seriously! Think of all we would avoid if we didn't have to eat.....meal planning, cooking, cleaning up the kitchen, going to the bathroom, cleaning bathrooms, grocery shopping....the list goes on! Of course, then I remember chocolate and decide that maybe it is all worth it! ;-)

For years, I have struggled with meal planning. Many days, I find myself staring in to the refrigerator, the freezer, and the pantry. I wear a path between them pacing, just waiting for something to offer itself for dinner. Those days are fewer since I started meal planning. That brings me back to self discipline and consistency, though. All of the issues I talk about on here are ways that God is teaching me these lessons. I continue to fail over and over again. Ugh! Recently, I have meal planned a week, floundered a week, then meal planned again. The cycle continuing over and over.

There is a bright future, though!!! Yes, we have the hope that our Lord is never finish working in us! Yes, we know He will never leave us nor forsake us! Yes, we look forward to our life with Him in heaven where there will be no more need for meal planning! Can you imagine that there could be even more!?! Well there is one small thing, that doesn't even measure up to the others in anyway, but will shed light in your meal planning!

Did you know that there were FREE and almost free programs online for this!?! I have found that I can enter in my recipes (this part does take some time, but then it is done), find new recipes, plan out menus, and generate shopping lists divided by the section of the grocery store!!!!

The completely free website is and the almost free one is (You can use bigoven for free if you don't want the calendar.)

SayMMM - Free, easy to use, I like their grocery list format better

Big Oven - Can be downloaded on your computer (if they go away, you don't lose your recipes), have TONS of recipes to choose from, easier to input recipes

SayMMM - Almost too simple, doesn't have very many other recipes to choose from, can't be downloaded on my computer

Big Oven - A little more difficult to figure out at first (but then fine), I don't like their grocery list format as well

I have chosen Big Oven for now and purchased it for my computer. Yesterday, I made my first week of meal plans. I figure, since it takes so long to input the recipes, I will do a week at a time. Soon, everything will be saved!

* You can pretend to enter a new recipe and just write something like "fruit" in the title. Then, leave the rest blank or add one or two main ingredients so that they appear on the grocery list. This helped my personality because I wanted neat calendars printed out that I wasn't handwriting anything onto.

* Before you go shopping, read your list CAREFULLY to see that each item has been assigned to the correct department in the grocery store. Last night was a disaster! I took WAY too long going back and forth for items missed because the list was so mixed up. I got home, fixed the list on the computer in just a couple of minutes, and now am ready to go for next time.

I am so excited! It is a lot of work right now, but I am looking forward to a day when I just come over to the computer, drag meals onto a calendar, and generate a grocery shopping list!!! Doesn't that sound wonderful!?! I hope this helps you take control of your meal planning instead of letting it rob you of precious hours that should be spent with your family!

Happy meal planning!!! (did I just say that?)

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