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Old 11.09.2012, 16:37
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Menu Planning?

Just wondering how the rest of you plan meals, shopping for the week, etc.

Usually I throw together a list of items to buy, get them and then cook around them - usually rotating around the same things. Or I look in the fridge and if it isn't there then I go get it or manage, sometimes with not the best results!

Anyways, have been spending a lot of money lately on electronics goods and was thinking maybe little by little I could save on my grocery bills to "pay" for these purchases if I am just a bit more organized and plan my menus for the week and really only shop for those items plus some standard things (I mean, the kids do need some extras ). Right now we spend quite a bit each month on groceries and toiletries, so I guess I am trying to see if I can pare it down without too much sacrifice!

I have found an app called menu planner (to use on one of those new electronic devices ) and I am trying to get it going and start using it. Just wondering if any of you have any good ideas, and what foods you like to include that your family enjoys as well? Also good budget meals to cook besides the standard spaghetti, etc.

Sorry if this is mundane, but it is, it seems, to be what my life is about these days!

Thanks!
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Old 11.09.2012, 16:45
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Re: Menu Planning?

A mate of mine in New Zealand started this website, as she too was getting bored with the same-old same-old, and had 3 growing groaning kids to feed
http://www.menumade.co.nz/

I think COOP has the same option on their website.. or at least did a while back. Cant be bothered searching there myself at the moment - i'm trying to make dinner (well, at least prep, during my kid-taxi-service runs)
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Old 11.09.2012, 16:47
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Re: Menu Planning?

hey drmom,

Can't suggest much in terms of menu items, however if you'd like to buy items when they are on sale in local supermarkets and save a bit of money, I suggest you peruse the following site:

http://www.aktionis.ch/
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:01
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Re: Menu Planning?

Great thread. I am also fed up with my rotation of meals each week and am trying to a) find some fresh inspiration and b) keep the costs down.

Would share my meagre recipe ideas but I'd be too embarrassed...
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:15
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Re: Menu Planning?

Quote:
Great thread. I am also fed up with my rotation of meals each week and am trying to a) find some fresh inspiration and b) keep the costs down.

Would share my meagre recipe ideas but I'd be too embarrassed...
aw, heck, I am sure you can't be worse than I am! Usually my husband has to try them first and then I get brave to try them...I am a better preparer than cook...

Here goes a recipe for you to consider: one of my favorites right now is from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Menus: Cypriot Stuffed Chicken. Yummy. We eat it with the pita breads and cabbage salad he has in the menu...This isn't the recipe per se, as I think maybe Mr. Oliver has made sure it has been removed so one has to buy the cookbook? But it does go through things step by step with lots of pics and it give a good idea. I think you can also find the episode and watch it being done by Jamie which helps for people like me who the written word sometimes just doesn't cut it!

It looks hard. But it isn't too bad and the flavors are really great! Even the kids eat the cabbage salad and the pitas and 1 of them eats the chicken as well . Not sure that it is a budget recipe, but I shop at Lidl a lot now so chicken isn't crazy expensive and I really like the feta they sell there. As well as the Zaziki! I was crazy happy when I found that yummy dip available!!!
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:16
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Re: Menu Planning?

Robin Miller was one of my favorites to watch on Food Network while in the States. She does the prep work for at least three meals over the weekend and plans her shopping list and menus for multipurpose ingredients. Here are her tips, which I find handy.

If you have the ability to stream U.S. videos on your computer you can watch her episodes, which include shopping lists of ingredients. If not then the website is a tad cumbersome to get a single list for a week.

Here is a list of her episodes. To get the recipes that go with each episode, click "read about this episode" rather than on the title of the show. You can get a sense from the recipes what kind of stuff you'll need to buy (e.g. a bunch of chicken or beef or whatever), and you'll see how she uses the same ingredients in different ways to make several meals.

HTH!
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:20
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Re: Menu Planning?

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Robin Miller was one of my favorites to watch on Food Network while in the States. She does the prep work for at least three meals over the weekend and plans her shopping list and menus for multipurpose ingredients. Here are her tips, which I find handy.

If you have the ability to stream U.S. videos on your computer you can watch her episodes, which include shopping lists of ingredients. If not then the website is a tad cumbersome to get a single list for a week.

Here is a list of her episodes. To get the recipes that go with each episode, click "read about this episode" rather than on the title of the show. You can get a sense from the recipes what kind of stuff you'll need to buy (e.g. a bunch of chicken or beef or whatever), and you'll see how she uses the same ingredients in different ways to make several meals.

HTH!
Thanks! Do you have any favorite recipes from her that you have put into the "rotation"?
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:23
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Re: Menu Planning?

I do my weekly grocery shopping on Thursday because Migros gives twice the Cumulus points on that day (in eastern Switzerland). The night before I go I make my mealplan for the next week letting the items Migros has for sale inspire me. When I run out of ideas I usually look through a cooking magazine, my recipe folder or some of my cookbooks. I try not to make the mealplan after dinner as I find it very hard to come up with good ideas for meals when I am full.
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:32
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Re: Menu Planning?

I think menu planning, in regards to trying to save money, has to be based on your personal skill level as a cook. Imagination helps as well.

Also knowledge of knowing what is in season. And not that 2 to 3 week pre-game show where imports get you thinking Asparagus is in(when it really is coming from the US or Chile), Strawberries now(coming from Spain or Morrocco), Cherries(coming from NL), and so on. What's in season, will be the least expensive.

Now it also depends if you are just trying to save money, or eat healthy at the same time. The less expensive Swiss food almost always means more calories. It's like America, without as good of marketing.

I think like a Chef, so I am always making something that I can recycle or use in a future dish to save time and money. Just a basic example...day 1 I am peeling carrots, cutting onions, using some celery root, save the peelings and/or directly put into a pot of water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, for 30 minutes or so, now you have bouillon for a sauce, to braise, or to make a soup, that you can either use within a few days, or freeze for future use.

Baked potatoes, bake, scoop out the insides for a puree, then take the skins, deep freeze, then use to make Potato skins with cheddar and bacon, either in the deep fryer or with the broiler function in your oven.

I could do this all day. But it depends on what your actual aim is. If you want to eat cheap, but it adds kilos to your waist. In the future you will have to pay more for more expensive, but healthy, and lean food(or sweat it off), so depends on your balance.

Also investing in a used small freezer helps you take advantage of those glorious orange dots at Coop.
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:35
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Re: Menu Planning?

We shop at the supermarkets every day of the week except for Sundays. We keep a lot of frozen meat in the freezer and then each day, we'll decide what we're making for dinner and pick up whatever is needed that we don't already have.

Honestly, we don't budget at all when it comes to food. I mean, we'll buy the specials if we see them. But if we want to make something and it requires an item not on sale, we'll buy it regardless. In that light, if say a big bag of spinach is on special, then we might do cannelloni with it that night and a quiche the next day to use it up. Maybe even throw some into a salad the day after for lunch.

I'm all for budgeting in other ways. Good, healthy food of a wide variety is important to us. If we can save, we will, but otherwise we plan meals day of and go from there. As for recipes, we tend to make up our own, often inspired by something online or a dish in a restaurant the rare time we eat out.
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:37
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Re: Menu Planning?

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We shop at the supermarkets every day of the week except for Sundays. We keep a lot of frozen meat in the freezer and then each day, we'll decide what we're making for dinner and pick up whatever is needed that we don't already have.

Honestly, we don't budget at all when it comes to food. I mean, we'll buy the specials if we see them. But if we want to make something and it requires an item not on sale, we'll buy it regardless. In that light, if say a big bag of spinach is on special, then we might do cannelloni with it that night and a quiche the next day to use it up. Maybe even throw some into a salad the day after for lunch.

I'm all for budgeting in other ways. Good, healthy food of a wide variety is important to us. If we can save, we will, but otherwise we plan meals day of and go from there. As for recipes, we tend to make up our own, often inspired by something online or a dish in a restaurant the rare time we eat out.
So basically you don't do menu planning.
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:39
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Re: Menu Planning?

I do most (99%) of the shopping in my household, and I DO plan my meals and make a list before I shop, as I think this helps me greatly to control costs. I also shop after I've eaten a meal, as nothing is more expensive than grocery shopping on an empty stomach.

I also give myself a little 'fudge' room every week; this helps me manage the impulse buying. I set a number, say 20 CHF, and use that to buy items of opportunity (special sale items that aren't on my grocery list) or impulse items (like a bag of paprika chips, some chocolate, or butterzopf).

I also prepare many things from scratch versus buying them processed and pre-prepared. I will portion and freeze larger packages of items, so I can pull them out later. Also, I usually will make items like soups/sauces in double quantities and freeze the second half for a later night; I find it easier to make a big mess cooking once than several messes cooking the same thing several times.

Pastas/Pizzas are obviously great and inexpensive meals to cook, and there are almost as many ways to prepare them as there are people who cook them. By changing the type of pasta noodle or pizza topping, you can keep the meals interesting and exciting. Also, if you have a good food processor/stabmixer, etc, pasta sauces (especially tomato sauces) are a great place to slide a little extra vegetable content into a meal. When you make these items from scratch, you can easily control the cost, quality, and nutrition of these meals yourself.

I also usually like to keep starches around the house too- there's a lot of fun recipes that use couscous, polenta, potatoes, or rice (and these are all inexpensive ingredients that last a long time). Also, a well-stocked spice cabinet is worth its weight in gold; you can find so many recipes for marinades, rubs, sauces, etc that can be made for less than a fourth of what the store charges for the same thing. Some of my favorite sites for recipes are food.com, recipe.com, allrecipes.com, and my wife likes to pin things on Pinterest for me to make. Or you can google "30-minute [food] recipe" and you'll probably find something that fits the bill.

Good luck!
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:39
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Re: Menu Planning?

I go into the supermarket, Coop or Migros, and buy what is on special offer. Then I buy vegetables to match and go home and cook it. Sometimes I use Aldi or Lidl, also Swiss made, but much cheaper!

For toileteries I use Aldi or Müller, they are much cheaper,

http://www.mueller.ch/filialwelt/filialfinder.html
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:48
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Re: Menu Planning?

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Thanks! Do you have any favorite recipes from her that you have put into the "rotation"?
This episode is one of my favorites, and you can make some tweaks to each recipe to suit your needs. As am American, I love sloppy joes. Also I see on the page there IS a shopping list! Woot! You can also sub ground turkey if you want it a little healthier.
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:52
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Re: Menu Planning?

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Now it also depends if you are just trying to save money, or eat healthy at the same time. The less expensive Swiss food almost always means more calories. It's like America, without as good of marketing...


...If you want to eat cheap, but it adds kilos to your waist. In the future you will have to pay more for more expensive, but healthy, and lean food(or sweat it off), so depends on your balance.
I disagree- one can purchase less-expensive items and still eat very healthily. It all comes down to portion control, making intelligent use of ingredients, and personal tastes. True, there are some items that simply cannot be replaced by less-expensive generics (for me it is olive oil and whole-wheat pasta, for example), but many ingredients are virtually identical to one another. Processed foods, which substitute fat, salt, and/or sugar for flavor-creating ingredients, are another matter.

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Also investing in a used small freezer helps you take advantage of those glorious orange dots at Coop.
Love the dots at Coop!
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:54
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Re: Menu Planning?

I do a meal planner each Thursday night as I shop on Fridays. I love to cook from recipe books so always use at least 3 a week to pick meals. I also use a website called www.taste.com.au which you will find lots of yummy recipes for all level of cooks..

Here is example of a meal planner for my family
Friday: normally take away or a pizza from coop
Saturday: Steak & salad (generally a sweet potato salad) as this is my daughters favourite
Sunday: roast lamb or chicken with baked veg ( depending if I have done a trip to France)
Monday: shepards pie & Veg
Tuesday: Duck & warm salad
Wednesday: some type of pasta
thursday: Thai pork salad ( or minced chicken)

I use a lot of recipe from Donna Hay.. They are simple and quick to make..

Pm me if you would like a couple of her recipe and I will scan and email a couple to you
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:54
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Re: Menu Planning?

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So basically you don't do menu planning.
No, we do. We rarely just go into the cupboards and make something with what's there. We menu plan daily unless there's a special or leftovers, in which case we do it a bit more in advance.
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:55
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Re: Menu Planning?

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This episode is one of my favorites, and you can make some tweaks to each recipe to suit your needs. As am American, I love sloppy joes. Also I see on the page there IS a shopping list! Woot! You can also sub ground turkey if you want it a little healthier.
I have a hard time finding ground turkey at all, but especially lean ground turkey. Where do you get yours?
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:55
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Re: Menu Planning?

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I disagree- one can purchase less-expensive items and still eat very healthily. It all comes down to portion control, making intelligent use of ingredients, and personal tastes. True, there are some items that simply cannot be replaced by less-expensive generics (for me it is olive oil and whole-wheat pasta, for example), but many ingredients are virtually identical to one another. Processed foods, which substitute fat, salt, and/or sugar for flavor-creating ingredients, are another matter.



Love the dots at Coop!
Less expensive food, and eating healthy, so give me an example of something that I can eat out of season, year round, and is good both for my health and my waist?

No dis respect, showin' red dot luv all the way.
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Old 11.09.2012, 17:56
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Re: Menu Planning?

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I have a hard time finding ground turkey at all, but especially lean ground turkey. Where do you get yours?
Do you have a meat grinder?
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