Author Topic: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)  (Read 5345 times)

LadyStache

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Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« on: May 03, 2015, 12:21:10 PM »
I recently started a new job and my hours have shifted, so planning meals has just gotten really tough.

Issue 1: The Timing
On the days that I work, I will be getting home after 10pm, except one day a week when I get home around 8:30pm. On the days that my SO works, he usually gets home around 10pm as well. On the days that we both work, we really don't want to have to put a lot of time and effort into cooking, so we've been picking up food on the way home more than usual. :(

Issue 2: Dietary Restrictions
I'm pescatarian - I eat fish, eggs, dairy, etc. but no meat. He has a medical condition and is unable to eat nuts, seeds, the skin of fruits and veggies. He's also unable to eat things that are really garlicy and he does not eat anything with onions in it unless they are very finely chopped. He really worries about vegetables making him sick, so he stays away from most vegetables. The only forms of vegetables I can currently recall him eating are leeks, potatoes, and tomato sauce/paste.

One meal idea I had is to cook some pasta on my day off and throw it in the fridge. Then one day after work, I can just reheat it with a jar of alfredo sauce and add some smoked salmon. That should take about 5 minutes.

We're basically looking for meals that can be ready in less time than that it takes to warm up the oven. A little bit of prep work on our days off is fine, but I don't really see us doing a lot of batch cooking. We do have an electric pressure cooker/slow cooker with a timer, so I could set that up to make a meal that's ready when we walk in the door. I'm just not sure what to make.

Merrie

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2015, 02:14:08 PM »
When I work until 10, I usually eat a meal at work and eat a snack when I get home or heat up some leftovers. I'm typically not walking in the door thinking that whatever I pick up is going to be my dinner, and you might want to do the same. We eat a lot of leftovers; most dinners that I make, I intentionally make too much so there are leftovers. We make tons when we make chili or spaghetti sauce. Husband eats a lot of sandwiches. I eat a lot of pasta, it makes good leftovers, and a lot of bean dishes, rice stirfry, etc. You could pre-roast something like chicken breasts or burgers and heat them up in the microwave. There are lots of possibilities, and once you get the hang of cooking it, almost anything is better than whatever takeout is open after 10 pm. Also you don't have to both eat the same thing all the time, or you can take a basic food like pasta or rice and gussy it up differently, according to your tastes and dietary restrictions.

forummm

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2015, 02:21:29 PM »
We cook about once per week and make enough to last us the whole week. We eat the same stuff each night that week. It's super easy and convenient and cheap. Some people would say they need more variety. But my cooking is good enough that it always tastes great each night. Our system saves a ton of time.

Elliot

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2015, 04:46:15 PM »
We cook about once per week and make enough to last us the whole week. We eat the same stuff each night that week. It's super easy and convenient and cheap. Some people would say they need more variety. But my cooking is good enough that it always tastes great each night. Our system saves a ton of time.

Same in our house. My partner will make two or three large meals (8-10 servings), and we just eat leftovers. It's not glamorous, but it's cheaper than eating out or buying packaged foods.

Annamal

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2015, 05:24:34 PM »
How about homemade soups (in particular I am thinking leek and potato soup)? That way you can control exactly what goes in, they freeze well and can be reheated and you can eat them with rolls and butter.


PharmaStache

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2015, 05:44:26 PM »
We cook about once per week and make enough to last us the whole week. We eat the same stuff each night that week. It's super easy and convenient and cheap. Some people would say they need more variety. But my cooking is good enough that it always tastes great each night. Our system saves a ton of time.

Same in our house. My partner will make two or three large meals (8-10 servings), and we just eat leftovers. It's not glamorous, but it's cheaper than eating out or buying packaged foods.

You could do this, but freeze the leftovers in single serving containers.  After a few weeks you will have quite the variety in your freezer to choose from.

OP- when you say you work until 10, do you work an 8 hour day?  Do you have all morning to cook?  Do you not have supper at work?

mm1970

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2015, 07:21:12 PM »
I really like this guy, and his instagram account, on food prep tips.

http://mybodymykitchen.com/

LadyStache

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2015, 04:03:47 PM »
We cook about once per week and make enough to last us the whole week. We eat the same stuff each night that week. It's super easy and convenient and cheap. Some people would say they need more variety. But my cooking is good enough that it always tastes great each night. Our system saves a ton of time.

Same in our house. My partner will make two or three large meals (8-10 servings), and we just eat leftovers. It's not glamorous, but it's cheaper than eating out or buying packaged foods.

You could do this, but freeze the leftovers in single serving containers.  After a few weeks you will have quite the variety in your freezer to choose from.

OP- when you say you work until 10, do you work an 8 hour day?  Do you have all morning to cook?  Do you not have supper at work?

I get home from work at 10. I have a long commute and a weird schedule. I leave the house around 10:45 AM. I eat lunch at work but not dinner.

LadyStache

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2015, 04:07:24 PM »
How about homemade soups (in particular I am thinking leek and potato soup)? That way you can control exactly what goes in, they freeze well and can be reheated and you can eat them with rolls and butter.

I love this leek and potato soup idea. It never crossed my mind before. Thank you!

intirb

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2015, 04:18:07 PM »
Since you have a slowcooker, lentil and potato curry and other stews seems like the obvious choice.  It would just take a little bit of prep each morning or weekend, then throw the stuff in the slowcooker with the timer every morning, and come home to a delicious meal.  Since there are two of you, you can trade off stew duty in the morning and it will seem like hardly any burden at all. 

4alpacas

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2015, 04:20:57 PM »
We cook about once per week and make enough to last us the whole week. We eat the same stuff each night that week. It's super easy and convenient and cheap. Some people would say they need more variety. But my cooking is good enough that it always tastes great each night. Our system saves a ton of time.

Same in our house. My partner will make two or three large meals (8-10 servings), and we just eat leftovers. It's not glamorous, but it's cheaper than eating out or buying packaged foods.

You could do this, but freeze the leftovers in single serving containers.  After a few weeks you will have quite the variety in your freezer to choose from.
This is what I do!  I toss meals from the freezer to the fridge the day before I need them.  It's how I pack my lunch and "prepare" weeknight dinners.  My DH and I have very different eating styles, so it makes it much easier if we don't have to agree on a meal every night. 

On the weekend, I tend to cook 2-3 different recipes.  I make our favorite recipes in bulk, but I also attempt a new recipe every weekend. 

How about homemade soups (in particular I am thinking leek and potato soup)? That way you can control exactly what goes in, they freeze well and can be reheated and you can eat them with rolls and butter.

I love this leek and potato soup idea. It never crossed my mind before. Thank you!
Soups freeze really well.  I let them cool and transfer single servings to ziploc bags.  I freeze the bags on cookie sheets, so I have a few "bricks" of soup.  It also helps with packing the freezer.

TrMama

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2015, 04:55:45 PM »
Pureed soups of any kind sound like they'd fit the bill. When you get takeout, what is it? Can you just make that at home?

A trick I use to make cooking and feeding my kids easier is to pre-cut all fruits and veggies when I get home from the grocery store. For example, if I buy a bag of carrots I peel and chop them all at once. Then they go in a big ziploc bag and are ready to be either added to a recipe or eaten raw.

LadyStache

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2015, 07:47:19 AM »
Pureed soups of any kind sound like they'd fit the bill. When you get takeout, what is it? Can you just make that at home?

A trick I use to make cooking and feeding my kids easier is to pre-cut all fruits and veggies when I get home from the grocery store. For example, if I buy a bag of carrots I peel and chop them all at once. Then they go in a big ziploc bag and are ready to be either added to a recipe or eaten raw.

Takeout is most frequently McDonald's fish sandwiches. We could make it at home, but it takes about 30 min to bake the fish filets (frozen) and another 10-15 minutes to warm up the oven. I could definitely do this on the day I get home around 8:30, but not on the 10pm nights.

I really like your idea of precutting fruits and veggies. Thanks for the suggestion!

TrMama

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2015, 11:41:09 AM »
OK, a cheap alternative to McDonalds fish burgers is to buy a big bag of frozen fish fillets and some buns. Before you go to bed, take out 2 and put them in the fridge to defrost. When you get home, pan fry, or broil them (takes minutes and broiling doesn't require letting the oven warm up) and put them in a bun. While the fish is cooking, put a couple potatoes in the microwave and nuke till soft. Serve with some bagged salad and bottled dressing.

Homemade spaghetti sauce works really well in the slow cooker. As does any kind of purreed soup. Get an immersion blender for $20 and you can blend it up right in the crock.

On your days off, make a big batch of something and eat that a couple times during the week.

sallyanne

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2015, 12:29:38 PM »
One of my favorite quick go-to meals is fish tacos. I keep frozen tilapia fillets as a freezer staple, they can be defrosted overnight in the fridge. I keep a Cajun-style spice mix on hand. I heat up a pan to searing, warming up my tortilla while the pan is preheating. Dip the fish into oil or melted butter (or spray with cooking spray/oil spray), then generously sprinkle/coat with spices. Cook quickly over high heat, about 1-2 minutes per side. If I'm not on a diet I'll add a teaspoon of butter on top of each side as it cooks. Meanwhile, I spread some mayo and/or avocado on the tortilla and quickly chop some tomato and onion, dress with salt and pepper. The fish comes out of the pan, into the tortilla, topped with the tomato/onion mixture and a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime. Amazingly delicious, and not more than 5-7 minutes from start of prep to sitting down with my meal!

On days that only one of you works, you can just have a pan of a one-pot dinner (vegetarian lasagna, shepherd's pie made with soy crumble, baked ziti, etc.) in the freezer that the one who is home can just stick into the oven in advance. Slow cooker meals are great for when you both work.

And you know what? I love my microwave. Just leave fully cooked meals and rewarm in 1 minute or less.

LadyStache

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Re: Meal Planning Help (It's Complicated)
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2015, 10:00:40 AM »
Thanks everyone! Lots of great ideas!!