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Using the Meal Plan Worksheets

We introduced you to the idea of creating meal plans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the book, and walked you through the process of creating your personal meal plan. Now I’d like to show you on just how flexible your meal plans can be.

I was thinking of how differently I eat in the warm months as compared to what I want to eat in the cold winter months. About April I start craving lighter meals, such as salads, fresh fruit and veggies and the like. I have a garden, so I am able to supplement the items I have in my pantry. Even if I didn’t have a garden, any extra grocery money I have would go to fresh produce, eggs, etc. About October, I start thinking about homemade soups, stews, chili, and more hearty meals.

So what does this have to do with your meal plans and your food storage? I want you to know just how flexible your meal plans can be. Just because you create a meal plan for dinners in August 2010, doesn’t mean that you and your family will want to eat those same meals on a rotation basis in January 2011, or August 2012 for that matter. We have all experienced how kids change their minds about the foods they like. One day they LOVE mac and cheese—the next day they won’t touch it! Remember, this is a “use and replace” system, not a “store it and forget it” system.

The beauty of your 3-month meal plans is that they can be so flexible, and so can your shopping list. Of course there are some food items that are basic to everything you cook, so you never want to run out of those items, and you can purchase them in larger quantities with no worry of using them up before the expiration date. But for other items, you are buying according to the meals you want to prepare and you are buying the amount you have calculated you will use in a three-month period. For example, I know I can buy plenty of grated cheese when it’s on sale because the “use by” date is usually 3 to 5 months out. And, I can freeze it if I don’t use it up by then. On the other hand, the ricotta cheese I bought the other day had a “use by” date of November, so I would only buy what I KNOW I would use by the expiration date. How would I know? All I have to do is look at my meal plan!

If you live in a part of the country with four seasons, as we do, you may want to adjust your meal plan seasonally. Suppose you want to start planning for homemade soup at least once each week when the cooler weather begins. You may decide to replace one or two of the meals you now have in your meal plan. So, you would simply add to your shopping list the items you’ll need for the new meal according to the amount you’ve calculated on your worksheet, and then delete from your shopping list the items that you would otherwise buy for the meal(s) you won’t be making for at least the next three months.

I love to try new recipes, which is not a problem because I keep a well-stocked pantry. The recipes I want to try usually contain those ingredients I like to eat, so I know that I’ll have them on hand. However, if I find a recipe that calls for other ingredients, I’ll buy enough to try it once and then if I like it, I’ll decide how often I want to prepare it over the next three months, do the math, and according to my worksheet I’ll add that amount to my shopping list.

It works great for any size family—even for someone like me who now lives alone. Your meal plans are the backbone of your food storage program. Use them. See just how flexible they can be and how much time and money you’ll save with a little planning.

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This entry was posted on Friday, August 20th, 2010 at 11:52 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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