The closet of doom is no longer:

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How much better does that look than before?  I’m working with limited space (and tupperware!), but there’s no longer things on the floor and everything is folded and in its spot.  And — most importantly — I FEEL better when I open my closet door.

 

Organization Week is shaping up pretty nicely.  Today is MEAL PLANNING Day.  Why am I interested in meal planning?

 

  • We would waste less produce (sometimes, we buy eggplant or pepper and then it goes bad because I don’t know what to do with it).
  • Grocery shopping would become less haphazard and hopefully cheaper.
  • We would get more variety in our meals (I feel like we’re falling into a bean trap!).
  • I have sneaking suspicion that meal planning would make Healthy Tipping Point more interesting to read, at least from a food perspective.

 

I’m not tackling meal planning the way most people approach it — I have an idea that will make it work for my busy schedule and impulsive palate.  Stay tuned for more info at lunch!

 

Breakfast was unplanned and delicious.  šŸ™‚

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A double serving of granola with skim milk and a sliced banana.

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After I ate, I did some strength moves:

 

  • 30 push-ups
  • 100 bicycle crunches
  • 2 30-second planks
  • Physical Therapy knee strengthening moves

 

Off to work I go!

 

Have you ever tried meal planning?

{ 66 comments }

 

  • Jocelyn August 18, 2009, 4:37 am

    Sometimes I do meal planning..but then it usualy doesn't work with my cravings lol..

    You should try eggplant parmesan with any random eggplants you have šŸ˜‰

  • megan August 18, 2009, 4:41 am

    Yup I meal plan.

  • Kate August 18, 2009, 4:50 am

    I don't really meal plan but I always turn something I make into something else. Like with my random eggplants first I grilled them and made paninis and then the next day I turned the leftovers into pasta salad. Check it out, I posted the recipe on my link here.

  • Victoria August 18, 2009, 4:59 am

    I definitely meal plan. I can't imagine not doing it. I leave a bit of wiggle room, like I'll only plan 5 out of 7 dinners for the or something, but for the most part I stick to my shopping list and eat what I've planned. It's cheaper and less stressful for me.

  • Sarah W. August 18, 2009, 4:59 am

    love the closet organization

    I ALWAYS meal plan before I go grocery shopping – first I look in the pantry, freezer and fridge to see what I have to work with, and how much of perishable things are left. Then I base meals around what I have – it allows me to use up things in the pantry and make room for new exciting foods too šŸ™‚ plus I hated wasting cilantro when I got a huge bunch at the store for 1 meal, or avocados so sometimes we'll have mexican 1-3x per week in order to use up those items.

    I also cook from my vegan cookbooks alot – I try to cook at least 1 meal from a vegan cookbook (to expand the repertorie) and plan to bake 1 thing per week to experiment and see how vegan baking things turn out!

    its super helpful to plan meals because I can also plan lunches at the same time – sometimes certain meals don't make good leftovers for lunches so I need to plan accordingly since I rely heavily on dinner being leftover for lunch!

    I keep a draft in my email (since I can access at work, and normally make my grocery list at work and after reading food blogs :-p) so I track what meals we have when and if I get into a rut i can scroll back a few months and see what we ate back then. make sense?

  • Mica August 18, 2009, 4:59 am

    I meal plan every Saturday before going to the store, and every week, I remark how much money it saves. My list includes who is making what each day. Then we check the pantry to see what we need and write down the stuff by section of the store "Produce, Dairy, Bulk, Ethnic, etc." In the end, it usually comes to between $60 and $80 to feed two people for a week, which isn't too bad. Last week, it was $72. Lifesaver!

  • Zesty Cook August 18, 2009, 5:07 am

    Meal Planning is great Caitlin. We used to cook on Sunday for the whole week and then re heat – It was super easy and a great way to avoid zest's trap of being lazy and ordering in…. sometimes šŸ™‚

  • Paige@ Running Around Normal August 18, 2009, 5:23 am

    I have tried meal planning, but it never follows through šŸ™ Usually my meal planning consists of a post it note and grocery list though lol. I have a great eggplant parmesan recipe on my blog if you need ideas for eggplant, btw!

    Great job on tackling your closet! šŸ™‚

  • Kelly Blechertas August 18, 2009, 5:25 am

    I meal plan every single week — I list them in my food blog under Menus (http://www.kellycooks.wordpress.com). I meal plan DH and I's dinners, as well as my healthy lunches and breakfasts (DH is on his own for lunches and breakfasts).
    I do it because between a full time job, 5x a week at the gym, friends, evening work activities, a house, and a dog that needs walked daily, I don't have time to be running around at 7pm trying to decide what we're going to eat!
    So I plan all of our weeknight dinners each week, and I never plan anything that takes more than about 30 minutes of prep/cook — that way, there's no excuse not to make it.
    Meal planning on Thurs/Friday allows me to spend Saturday a.m. doing all my farmer's market and grocery store shopping for the following week. I never find myself needing an additional trip, and there is very little waste in our house as a result as well. I usually spend about 2 hours on Sunday prepping all of my vegetables and fruits that I can (chopping them up, etc) — that way when I go to cook, they're ready.
    All of that helps me immensely. I highly reccommend it — especially if your schedule is busy….because it saves time in the long run!

  • Kelley August 18, 2009, 5:26 am

    Love your blog!

    What PT knee exercises do you do? I do single leg raises laying down and single leg half squats — but I'd love to add more since I stopped going to PT regularly.

  • lilybeans August 18, 2009, 5:34 am

    I don't know how people meal plan without spending more money. I always find when I plan I want to make new things that require more ingredients that I end up having to put more $$ down for. I tend to get the basics and then give things more variety and flavor in the sauces.

    I hope planning works out better for you!

  • seesaraheat August 18, 2009, 5:36 am

    I meal plan here and there. I keep a list on my computer of things I have in the fridge, pantry and freezer at home and then try to make a grocery list that would help me use up some of that stuff plus show me what I need to get to complete some meals. Because sometimes I forget how much I have at home already! It does save money and it's fun being creative with some ingredients šŸ™‚

  • Julie August 18, 2009, 5:36 am

    I don't usually do it, but what has worked for me in the past is to come up with 5 or 6 meals to make for the week and make sure I have those ingredients on hand. I don't like to be tied down to which day we're eating which meal, but if I have a list of the meals I have stuff for, we can pick off the list the night before (to defrost meat if needed, etc). Just my two cents.

  • Erica August 18, 2009, 5:36 am

    Hey girl! Great job on the closet!! I meal plan every week! Usually a few days before I go food shopping, I layout what dinner will be every night the upcoming week, what we need in terms of staples, and anything else we need for the bathrooms (hair products, shaving stuff, etc) and make up my list! Type A much? šŸ˜‰

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point August 18, 2009, 5:38 am

    kelley – here are my knee moves:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hgafgrw5WiI

  • domesticaffections August 18, 2009, 5:39 am

    Caitlin,

    My husband and I meal plan our dinners. It has helped tremendously. Meal planning forces us to be even more intentional when we grocery shop. In fact, we've challenged ourselves to spend no more than $100/mo. on groceries through November. Of course, we have a nicely stocked pantry, but the meal planning makes us use up that wild rice mix I bought 6 months ago, etc. I strongly recommend it!

    Cali

  • Emily August 18, 2009, 5:40 am

    Good work on the closet!
    I have tried meal planning, but always wound up spending more (I think I may have been a little too inspired by all I wanted to do!). Usually we just go twice a week and then create something out of what we have. I'll look forward to your adventures!

  • Nicole (the other one) August 18, 2009, 5:40 am

    We would go to bed hungry every night if I didn't meal plan. I can be very indecisive and I just don't have time for that when I work full time and go to school. Dinner has to be preplanned if I want to eat before 10pm. The weekly ad for the local grocery store comes in the mail on Saturday. I use the sales to help inspire my meal plans…helps with ideas and saves money!

  • Britt August 18, 2009, 5:51 am

    Great job on the closet! I really should do that too…… sometime.

    I am getting better at meal planning but not spectacular. We are so busy during the week that our grand dinner making plans fall by the wayside at times. I'm trying to get better though, especially as we are getting loads of produce from our crop share, I hate to see any of it go to waste!

  • Jenna August 18, 2009, 5:54 am

    no i have never actually tried meal planning but i think it is a great idea and i plan on trying it sometime though!!

  • Nina August 18, 2009, 5:54 am

    OMG, when you wrote about the eggplant and pepper…that is EXACTLY what happens in this house, with those exact veggies. We have the same problems; falling into a rut/unorganized grocery shopping/expensive.

    But we also tried meal planning and I'm not sure it works for us just because of my work schedule. I'll hae to try it again. Good luck; i'm interested to see some of your recipes.

  • brandi August 18, 2009, 5:54 am

    the closet looks great!

    I meal plan every week, mainly to stay on our budget AND to make sure I have what I need and don't waste anything, either.

  • ms August 18, 2009, 5:54 am

    Meal planning is a critical part of our monthly budget. I have about 5 or 6 meals planned and I usually choose the night before what we'll have (to let fish defrost overnight, but of course, you don't have to worry about defrosting fish/meat). Our 'sides' and veggies are very fluid, as I'm cooking, I pick what sounds good for that night or based on what may go bad first.

    I feel like I spend quite a bit on groceries every week (there are 4 of us) and I couldn't imagine how much I would be spending if I didn't plan things out. And, dragging two kids to the grocery several times a week is a form of torture!!

  • Justine August 18, 2009, 6:00 am

    I'm definitely a meal planner. I need to know what we're gonna have for the week so I can make my grocery list! We'll go thru and pick the meals based on things we need to use up (if anything), what's on sale for the week, and what we're craving. So far it's worked out well…and I know I'd buy way more stuff I didn't need if I didn't meal plan. And I probably would be missing things for some meals.

  • Marisa (Trim The Fat) August 18, 2009, 6:01 am

    I've tried meal planning, but like you, I have an impulsive palate! I really am trying to eat what I feel like my body wants lately, so I "go with the flow" for myself. But, I do try to have a general idea of what I am making for my family for the week and shop accordingly.

    Closet looks great! WTG!

  • Deva@Vorilee August 18, 2009, 6:05 am

    LOL – I have a post about meal planning in the works for this weekend! We plan out seven meals and seven side dishes for each week, with everything being pretty interchangeable. šŸ™‚

  • Leah @ L4L August 18, 2009, 6:07 am

    Religious Meal Planner here! It makes my days less stressful when I come home from work and know exactly what I am making for dinner and don't have to dig through the pantry and fridge and hummmm and haaa over what to prepare. Breakfast, I don't plan. Lunch is 90% of the time leftovers (during the week). I do my dinner meal planning every Thursday for the next week, prep a shopping list, and go grocery shopping (Costco) every Friday night and The Farmers Market every Saturday morning. This routine works quite well for us and we rarely toss out food.

  • Kristen @ Simply Savor August 18, 2009, 6:09 am

    I've tried to meal planning so many times, but find myself craving something different than I had "planned" all the time. After about a week i usually give up on the whole meal plan idea. im really looking forward to see your approach though and get some great ideas on how to make it work for me. Thanks Caitlin šŸ™‚

  • Lynne August 18, 2009, 6:16 am

    I do plan my dinners a week in advance, then do my grocery shopping based on those meals. It has helped a great deal because the last thing I want to do is get home from work and try to figure out what's for dinner. It has also kept me on track.

  • kat August 18, 2009, 6:17 am

    I usually plan 4 days of meals to allow for using leftovers, going out and cravings! It's definitely cheaper and easier. I would love to read about your meal planning adventure!

  • Oh She Glows August 18, 2009, 6:21 am

    Ive never been able to meal plan…so I am really curious to see what your strategy will be for impulsive people like us šŸ˜‰

  • K from ksgoodeats August 18, 2009, 6:22 am

    Way to go with the closet!! I love having an organized one, makes life so much easier (although mine is horribly unorganized at the moment)!

    Good luck with the planning!

  • Hi! I'm Erin August 18, 2009, 6:25 am

    I make a menu every Sunday and then a grocery list based on that. I admit, I'm not very good about planning to use leftovers in something else or using up what we already have in the house. I should try incorporating that into my planning more! The only problem is that I never know how many leftovers we'll have. Some nights my husband eats A TON and other nights he barely touches the food.

  • Pam (Highway to Health) August 18, 2009, 6:26 am

    I always try to meal plan but life seems to get in the way. I'm curious to see your strategy!

    Good work on your closet. I really need to do that to mine!

  • lookingforserenity August 18, 2009, 6:29 am

    right now I have my meals planned. My nutritionst has 5 breakfasts, and 4 lunches that I can interchange- and dinner is whatever I want! SO I guess its kind of planned?!

  • Jessica August 18, 2009, 6:30 am

    I do try to meal plan each week but then sometimes the best laid plans get tossed aside!

    I've been trying to blog about it to give people ideas for their meals but this week I just was too busy to get it done!

  • Lizzy August 18, 2009, 6:48 am

    Yay for an organized closet! I totally tackled my room and laundry yesterday because you said you needed to get yourself organized as well! So i thank you! I look forward to reading about your meal planning ideas! šŸ™‚

  • Susan August 18, 2009, 6:50 am

    I try to meal plan, but it's hard to stick to! My boyfriend doesn't like to meal plan (he's a "show up at the grocery store and decide what would be good" kind of guy), so when I spend weekends at his place, it's hard. I want to get back into it because I like knowing what I'm going to each day.

  • Christina G. August 18, 2009, 6:59 am

    I do meal planning every week.

    I pick 6 meals for the week (we usually eat out 1 night/week). Then I make them when I feel like it. I also search for new recipes regularly and incorporate those. Over time I've collected a lot of good recipes so we have plenty of variety and can eat healthily šŸ™‚ I also bring the left overs from dinner for my lunch the next day. That makes lunch easy for busy people, it's healthier that way because I know exactly WHAT is in my lunch, and we save money from having to buy lunch every day. Win-win-win šŸ™‚

  • Amanda August 18, 2009, 7:06 am

    I often tell myself "This is the week I'm going to start meal planning" and then I get to the grocery store and see that I forgot šŸ™ I'm hoping to actually start this fall… good luck with yours!

  • Heather August 18, 2009, 7:06 am

    I try to meal plan – I hate to throw things away. Sometimes it doesn't always work out though.

  • Christina G. August 18, 2009, 7:11 am

    For eggplant, I like to grill or roast it. I slice it up, spray it w/ Pam (oil soaks up into eggplant too easily), sprinkle with salt and grill outside or bake in the oven. I also like to make eggplant rollatini, but I make it healthier. I add some chopped zucchini to the (low-fat) ricotta filling to bulk it up. I also bake the eggplant in the oven to loosen it up for the rolling part first (spray w/ pam and bake).

    For bell peppers, I throw them into everything – scrambled eggs, any crock pot meal, stir fry. I also like to grill them w/ some canola or evoo.

  • Rona August 18, 2009, 7:12 am

    yup I meal plan. I receive an organic fruit and veg box every Thursday. This then obviously forms the basis of my meal planning. I note down what's in the box then check out the cupboards and fridge/freezer to see what else is around. From there I may take a flick through my cookbooks or fave food blogs and plan dinners and some lunches. There are usually still some creative departures during the week but it definitely helps cuts down the grocery bill.

  • Ali August 18, 2009, 7:26 am

    Your closet looks so good! Great job! Don't you love feeling organized, I know it makes me feel like my life is a lot less hectic! Good luck with the meal planning.

  • southerngracesblog August 18, 2009, 7:35 am

    Love the new closet! I always feel so good after I clean out my closet, too. It makes me feel less stressed!
    Have a great day, girl! Can't wait to hear about your meal planning ideas šŸ™‚

  • Sheri August 18, 2009, 7:38 am

    Yup, I try an meal plan the best I can. I have a huge collection of cookbooks and I sit down on Sundays and go through them and figure out what to put together.

    This really helps me a lot because I work full-time and being a Mom as well does not leave much time. Plus this way we are not looking to fast food if there is nothing planned to eat.

  • Peanut Butter Swirl August 18, 2009, 7:43 am

    wow your closet looks so clean šŸ™‚

    I totally plan my meals so nothing goes to waste/so I can make room in my freezer. haha

  • Bec August 18, 2009, 7:50 am

    I need to organize my closet today sometime, so dont want to start on that! I try to meal plan during the school year because if I dont I just get too busy and eat randomness all night instead of a meal. But if I plan and can shop so I have everything I need i end up making the meal 97% of the time.

  • Jenn Eats Nutritiously Now August 18, 2009, 7:55 am

    I've actually just started it this week. I sat down Saturday and planned out all my meals according to what I already had in the fridge/pantry. So far, it's going well!

  • eatingRD August 18, 2009, 8:05 am

    I am definitely a meal planner! I have to have some sort of plan for the week, depending on our schedules. I plan for about 3-4 big meals/week and then we have leftovers the rest of the time and it leaves room for adjustments and things that may come up.

  • Melissa August 18, 2009, 8:12 am

    That closet looks amazing! I'm going to wait until after Labor Day to do mine…I do feel inspired though!
    I meal plan because I'm just a Type-A kinda girl who has to plan everything. I still have those quick runs to the store in the middle of the week if I change my mind or have a craving. Good luck with the planning!

  • Sara August 18, 2009, 8:15 am

    I meal plan every Sunday and then I grocery shop for what we need for the week. It's fun!

  • Tyler August 18, 2009, 8:17 am

    I've tried meal planning, but then i never follow it! I'll eat my ingredients before I make the meal they were for, go out to eat with friends instead, or just not be craving what I planned to eat and eat something else. I'm sure I would save a lot of money if I was better at meal planning!

  • eatingmachine August 18, 2009, 8:18 am

    I meal plan dinners, and do whatever for breakfast and lunch (well, sometimes I plan out leftovers to work into lunches, and I try and figure out one proper breakfast for the fiance every weekend). That helps me plan and also give in to whatever I may be craving for lunches and not feel deprived.
    honestly, the first few months I thought it sucked-I didn't like trying to know what I was going to want for dinner on Friday when it was Sunday! But now it makes my days so so much easier. And I'd say about 95% of the time we stick to the plan.
    Hm… actually, I think I'll post my meal plan on my blog today!

  • Emily (The Experimentarian) August 18, 2009, 8:19 am

    I love to write out a menu and grocery list for the week! It's kind of silly , but I get such a thrill out of being able to use our food and leftovers in the most efficient way possible. I love the challenge of it šŸ™‚ I just recently started reading your blog and I am so inspired by your commitment to health and especially Operation Beautiful! I just posted my first notes today–yay! Maybe you can help me out,too. I noticed that you have participated in a lot of 10ks…I am running my first on Saturday and have put out a request on my blog for favorite racing tunes. It would be great if you'd stop by! Thanks šŸ™‚

  • Raya @ RayaRuns August 18, 2009, 8:22 am

    My meal planning usually happens when I'm walking through the grocery store. I either pick up items that are on sale and look up ways to use them later, or I remember what I've seen on all the food blogs I read and pick up similar items, although I'll probably put my own spin on it. I have also found that when I follow a recipe exactly, I spend a lot of money getting all the exact ingredients and that's not always good. It's more fun and creative to use up what you have on-hand…that's how new dishes get invented!! šŸ™‚

  • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) August 18, 2009, 8:50 am

    Sounds like you are on a roll with the meal planning and organizing! I envy you! I gotta motivate myself to clean my apartment and meal plan. It makes me feel so accomplished!

  • Kate August 18, 2009, 8:56 am

    I LOVE to meal plan. It totally calms my "need to be organized" brain. I know exactly what to get at the store, and I look forward to what I'm going to make for dinner all day! Sometimes I ditch my plan and eat something different (plans change, right?), but in general I end up making most of the meals I've planned out. It's also an awesome way to try new recipes!

  • platipus329 August 18, 2009, 9:06 am

    I like the idea of meal planning but I change my mind wayy too often to do it on a regular basis

  • Julie August 18, 2009, 9:28 am

    I eat live and breathe meal planning. My meals kind of get boring because of it, so I need to work on the repetitiveness. It's just so easy to go back a week and see what I had for lunch that day and just re-create it.

    You closet looks great by the way!

  • Jolene - EverydayFoodie August 18, 2009, 9:31 am

    Yes, we always meal plan … but we do stray from it if we are craving something other than what we bought.

  • Jessica August 18, 2009, 10:24 am

    With two small kids I HAVE to meal plan or I would be scrambling every night. I have a word doc on my computer that has our frequent staples that I buy at the store in order. I circle whatever I need that week. Then on the back I write what we are having for dinner each night and then go back and circle the ingredients we need from the list.

    It saves me so much time because I usually dont have to make multiple trips to the store during the week for things I forgot. We also waste a lot less and I dont have to stress about what to make for dinner at 5:30 when the kids are melting down šŸ™‚

  • Susan August 18, 2009, 4:01 pm

    I suck at meal planning. I like to go with my mood and cravings when I eat. And sometimes I may plan on making one thing, but crave something totally different for supper! I'm more a fan of just throwing random things together and seeing what I can come up with šŸ™‚ However, it means I don't often try out recipes, and that's something I'd love to do more often.

  • Amanda (modernation) August 18, 2009, 4:07 pm

    Love your approach to meal planning. We have a similar routine. I have a binder full of recipes torn out of mags and printed off the computer as well. I also have a running list of meals we like that I keep on my computer. We sit down on the weekend and look over the list and pick a few meals for the week that we want, then make a list from that. It is so nice to not go to the market all the time and saves so much time and money! Good luck – look forward to seeing how it goes. For produce you don't know what to do with, I take everything that is going to go bad if I don't use it, chop it up and roast all the veggies. So good with couscous, pasta or pita and hummus!

  • theskinnyplate August 18, 2009, 7:10 pm

    I tried planning before, but I never stick with it.

  • Kim August 19, 2009, 4:01 pm

    I meal plan every week and blog about it on Sunday night or Monday AM. Very helpful & helps me make my grocery list on Sundays.

    Here is this week's:

    http://glutenfreeislife.wordpress.com/2009/08/16/menu-plan-august-16-2009/

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