Thursday, June 4, 2015

How I plan meals (a beginner's guide by a beginner)

This post is brought to you by Electrolux.

Planning meals is simple, right? My husband says it's something like this: Monday is pasta, Tuesday is Filipino ulam, Wednesday is meatloaf, Thursday is anything fried, Friday is fish, Saturday is burgers, Sunday is pizza. Not exactly like that but something like that. Just plan meals with that in mind and repeat every week.

It sounds really simple except that I have two kids who only like spaghetti and hotdogs ("The perfect food!" So says Vito.), a baby who eats soft food, a husband who likes everything fried and grilled, and me who's happy with tinola and nilaga forever. Laging merong hindi happy!!!

How does one deal with this?

I never learned planning meals because I was raised by a grandmother who went to the market every morning. So kung ano yung makita niya na special ingredient or yung kararating lang from the farm/sea, she buys those and then plans the day's meals around them. When I lived with my parents naman, Papa also had to work with the budget Mama gave him that day. So when Mama gave him (and eventually me) P500, marami kaming mabibili. Pag P100 lang ang budget, tipid talaga. So this thing called meal planning? It's super pang-mayaman chore for me.

My grandparents and parents always told us, "Eat what's on the table." We accepted this kasi hindi kami mayaman so kung ano ang nakahanda, yun lang talaga ang pagkain. If hindi mo kainin yun, gutom ka talaga.

But now I live in abundance. The fridge is full, the pantry is stocked with cookies and cereals and bread and other yummy wonders. So between the vegetable dish on the table and the knowledge that there's a Nutella sandwich waiting to be made in case they get hungry, the kids (and sometimes the husband) choose the other option.

What do I do?!

For starters (because I really should start doing this), I'm going to follow my husband's suggestion and plan the weekly menu. This week, it looks like this:

What I considered:
  1. Start the week by cooking the food that will spoil quickly, like vegetables. 
  2. I also planned seafood at the start of the week instead of the traditional Friday because I wanted to cook the shrimp while it was still at its freshest.
  3. Always have an ulam during the day that the kids will like. So at dinner, they can eat their leftover ulam from lunch in case they don't like the ulam at dinner. 
  4. Dinner is a good time to introduce new dishes to the kids. They don't really eat a lot at dinner because they're still busog from merienda and they know they'll have their glass of milk at bedtime. And yet, so far, they've been welcome to the food we introduce to them. Well, except the shrimp. They didn't even touch it.

Lunch for the grown-ups the next day, by the way, is usually the leftovers from dinner before. I just add something new for the kids para kumain talaga sila. It's also good for them to see the new food from the night before, to familiarize them and to give them another chance to try it.

Today was leftovers day! Dapat Spam for the kids plus leftovers but the kids just ate the veggies. So hooray! The shrimp in creamy sauce was a miss, though, while the kalabasa and beans in gata was a hit.

My new meal plan seems to be working so far, although I'm sure I'll be tweaking it as I go. Can you help me, mommies? How do you plan your meals? How do you incorporate all of the tastes of your family members?

I'll be talking (and asking you!) more about tips and tricks in the home and kitchen, mommies. Electrolux has a campaign called #DoMoreWithLess to encourage maximizing resources, saving money and food, and recycling food and materials.

You can check out their Facebook page The Electrolux Little White Book for many suggestions on managing your home, recycling, saving, and even making sandwiches.


They have silly jokes, too.


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Join join join the contest! Ako lahat ng "What can you do with...?" contests ng Electrolux sinalihan ko na pero hindi ako nananalo pa. I still have hope!

P.S. Don't forget to share with me on the comments below your meal-planning tips!


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3 comments:

  1. Natawa ako sa pang-mayaman chore! Oo nga! Ang meal planning ay pang mayaman. I don't worry dyan right now because my mum (I live with my parents!) would go to the palengke everyday. And yep! We eat what's on the table, else gutom ka. Well, hindi naman gutom but most probably you'd end up eating the biscuits or the bread or the canned goods. Hehehe! But I think I should start planning the baby's meal. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mas tricky (and minsan nakakaloka!) ang meal planning in our household. We have to balance Pinoy food and Indian dishes to cater to my husband and mother-in-law. Handy yung ginawa kong excel file of food category (veggies, seafood, chicken, etc), mas madali makita at mag mix & match ng dishes. True, we cannot please everybody’s palate but it’s part of the compromise in our home.

    As for my 4 year old daughter, I have a go-to list of tried & tested meals in case she doesn’t like or didn’t have enough of the grown up meals. The list includes bread with different fillings (cheese, peanut butter, butter & sugar), oatmeal (yup, kahit gabi!), noodles with additional veggies, fried rice with egg & veggies, pasta, etc. For more veggies in her diet, we add a celery stick, carrot, a bunch of spinach or broccoli stems to her fruit shake and she never notices. Whatever’s left of the fruit shake, if theres any, is recycled into a fruit popsicle and served later in the week :)

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  3. This is one of the things I hate doing as a homemaker! Ang picky (aka high standards) kasi ng asawa ko! He's not a fan of Filipino ulam. It took us (the household) 5 years to get him to eat sinigang that he likes. Imagine, I've been making sinigang for 5 years, sinigang lang pala ni yaya ang makakapag pakain sa kaniya until he gets sawa! He sent me a list of his favorite food so that I can make them at home, pero I threw it away after realizing na sa mamahaling restaurants yung gusto niya so sabi ko kumain na lang siya doon pag weekends. :P

    Our budget per week is probably much more smaller than yours, and I have to feed 5 hungry people! I have to start doing this again! We've been eating paulit-ulit na patok na food for everyone for the past few weeks and ako na ang nagsasawa hahaha!

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This is all pretty new to me so please feel free to share your mommy wisdom!