April 26, 2011

Why I don't meal plan.

Ok, so maybe mostly it is because I am lazy. BUT there are also other good reasons why I don't meal plan. First, I don't like being tied into making a specific meal on a specific night. I know I can rearrange the plan if I have to but it still makes me feel sort of constrained, limited, somehow. Second, I like to experiment with new recipes. I probably never would have made the dinner I made tonight if I was meal planning since it was a new recipe for me. It was a very yummy lentil soup garnished with sour cream (if desired, my husband liked it without) and beer cheese muffins on the side. And another spur of the moment meal last Friday was, also very yummy, salmon patties (recipe courtesy of Heavenly Homemakers) which I modified a bit by adding 1/2 roughly chopped avocado, a little dill, and substituting a very generous squeeze of lime juice for the lemon juice. They had a delicious, almost floral, and light flavor. I like to be creative in the kitchen whenever I have the time/energy to do so and I feel like a meal plan would cramp my style.
Now, all this being said, there are drawbacks to not meal planning. One, I have to go grocery shopping more often or try to find recipes for which I have ingredients (or substitutions) on hand. Admittedly I sometimes like the challenge of trying to cook with what I have around, but sometimes a trip to the store is mandatory and not always welcome. Two, I probably waste more food than I would if I meal planned. Example: I had a bunch of fresh dill that I needed for a particular goulash recipe which I meant to either freeze or hang in a bunch and dry for later use. It goes without saying that in the flurry of last minute dinner preparations I threw it in the vegetable drawer, still with all intentions of preserving it for later use, and promptly forgot about it. A week later I had to throw out a very large bunch of funky, wilted, dill. Had I been meal planning I might have had another use for it that week. :( Three, I run the risk of everyone not liking what I made for dinner and, in the case of my toddler, having to make something else. Of course, I know my family's tastes pretty well so this doesn't happen that often but sometimes you run across a recipe that is just a dud and nobody likes it, me included. This is probably the night for a pizza. Finally, sometimes I just don't have the energy or desire to think about (ominous music) what to make for dinner. I am sure you have had those days when it seems like the most difficult task in the world to conjure up a meal out of thin air, or rather, the air floating around in your head (because you just cant think right now.) This happened a lot in my first trimester when I didn't want to eat period, let alone feed two other people. When this happens once in awhile it isn't really a big deal because I just fall back on one of my old standbys: spaghetti, pork chops, a roast of some sort in the crockpot, or chili. But when such a mood, or condition as it may be, persists for days, weeks, or even months (anyone else have 16 week or longer nausea with their pregnancies?) it becomes kind of a problem. So maybe a meal plan would have been good for such a time. Hmm, maybe I should just make up an emergency meal plan and pull it out whenever I feel that way. I probably won't do this though because, well I already said it, I tend to be lazy. ;)


Kate said...

I don't meal plan either. I buy what is on sale to get the most food for our money, and that means getting different veggies, meats, etc.

But I DO rely heavily on this nifty site: www.supercook.com. Generally if I check it during the after lunch lull I'll find something I can make for dinner that night, using only what I have on hand.

Lady of the Lakes said...

Ooh great tip, thank you! And I totally agree with buying what is on sale. That seems to be the cheapest way for me to shop too. I can't really plan meals far in advance because I don't know what is going to be on sale next week/month.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you are a free spirit. And your family is all the luckier for it. Bet you've made some terrific meals.