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Meal Planning

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Palm Posts: Menu Planning


Well, I'm still working the bugs out of meal planning on my palm, but it mostly works for now.  First, I came up with dinners for every night of the month. That was the easy part! Then I wrote them out on a paper calendar that I printed out so I could make sure we weren't having chicken every night for a week or something. Things like 'frozen pizza' repeat every week on Saturday and I also added in a Saturday lunch called 'leftovers'. Next, I entered in all the meals on my palm, making them repeat every 4 weeks. My exceptions are on Wednesday because none of us are home (we eat at our youth group's cafe before church) so I made Wednesdays a 'New Recipe Night'. Perfect for me because I don't like to cook so I am never forced to try a new recipe since we are never home on that night;-) I then went to Handyshopper and created a store for each meal (ie 'Pizza Night') My categories are 'ingredient' and 'instructions'. My item entries (and quantity) for 'Pizza Night' include:

Frozen Pizza, 1
Mushroom-Can, 1
Extra Cheese,
more pizza stuff,1
more pizza stuff,1

I mark the pizza itself with a 'coupon' check since the other items are optional (just a handy inventory filter to weed out the 'extras'). I also put in the cost of each item, since we budget carefully and I like to know how much meals cost when items are purchased at the lowest cost. The last entry I add is my '*instructions' item which has a note attached for the recipe, prep info, or notes. I also assign them all to aisle 1. That way, if I add a side dish or salad, those items get aisle 2 - for sorting items under their *instructions heading (sort by aisle, then description, and the ingredients will sort under the instructions if you precede the instruction entry with an *) I give my *instructions the same meal name like 'pizza night' so linker can find it easier. Also note if you have several recipes that call for the same ingredient, list them separately under each 'meal' store. This will give you a more accurate inventory list (see below).
To link the items, go back to datebk4 (or any other datebk, really) and highlight a meal. Invoke the linkhack stroke, select 'record link', and use 'find' to search out the meal name in HS. Tap the correct entry and you're done. Now tapping on the datebook entry takes you right to your HS meal. Note that it may open in the all stores view so you will probably have to select the store for that meal, but it should be the same name as the name you gave the meal in datebook.
If this sounds like a lot of work, you are right. I didn't do this in a day. I add to HS as I go along. I try to add the meal ingredients in HS as I make it or after dinner. I only have about 5 meals in HS that are completed. The cool thing is that when it is complete, I will be able to switch to the ingredient category, sort by item description, and get an inventory of what I need to buy to make all these meals (like how many pounds of ground beef, or canned tomatoes, etc.). Then I can check that list against what I have on hand and mark the needed items in my HS 'shopping list' db for a more accurate shopping list.
I will be the first to admit that we don't stick with this plan 100%, mainly because it's new and I fumble with sticking to it. Frequently Pizza Night gets swapped with another meal for convenience or because we are out of something because I used the ingredient to 'try' some weird snack for the kids. I try not to put the meal off for more than a week. Summer will be hard because garden foods will creep in and our meal plans will change to Zucchini Bread, Fried Zucchini, Zucchini in This, Zucchini in That, More Zucchini, Please Stop the Zucchini, Kill that Plant, and others. I figure I will just add those items to existing meals under a category called 'seasonal' or something - so we can choose a side dish for variety. I will also copy the db in the future and revamp it to add new menus for variety.
Once I get all the dinners in order, I will try to rotate some lunch menus (just me and the girls - dh eats leftovers for lunches). Breakfast seems to be a no-brainer around here so that isn't worth my time to keep track of it. I just have a daily repeating event called 'breakfast' that marks off the 45 minutes it takes me to get 2 girls age 1 and 4 to splatter oatmeal and spill milk for me to clean up.

PS - I do keep a separate db in HS for recipes I want to try (ha ha) or for snacks we make, cookies, etc. The categories are 'meat, veggie, snack, dessert, etc. and the stores are things like favorites, crockpot, casserole, easy (under 15 mins) etc. These are just recipe names as items with the recipe itself attached as a note. I also use price to put in the cost - i.e. 1 doz oatmeal cookies cost 78 to make from scratch.

If any of this confuses you, just ask me. I will probably upload my meal plan db in HS to the handyshopper list files area eventually if anyone wants to see it.

Ok - one more thought here...if you want to skip using datebook all together, you can just set the date for the *instructions entry and then sort by date. You'd then have to switch to the current store for the item with the corresponding date. Just a thought...

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Last Updated: 11/19/02
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