So, when I got married I had the best of intentions to have a weekly menu. All the cool kids were doing it. EVERY frugal blog you read lists menu planning as a reliable way to save money. And then you don't have to put daily energy into food ponderings - What am I going to fix today? I kept a menu for the first month or so, and it worked okay. It sure made grocery shopping pretty easy. Then I got pregnant.
All menu plans went out the window. I was just trying to keep anything down, and I fixed whatever I thought would take the least amount of stand-up time, smell the least, and be most likely to stay down. Any dish that I knew about hours in advance would not work! I had to cook on a whim.
After my nausea left I tried to resume meal planning, but I found out some things. First, I like to not be too tied down to a meal plan. I like food surprises! When I make a casserole, for example (see link a few posts back), I pull out some chicken to thaw maybe at lunch, but I like to not decide what type of casserole I'm making (rice, pasta, add mushrooms or not, etc.) until suppertime. It's more exciting!
Second, I can just stock up on staple items and still not have to constantly run to the store for "one more item" . . . most of the time.
Third, despite all the frugal claims, for me, I cook more frugally when I don't have a meal plan. I'm serious! When I'm at the grocery store, I tend to buy the more economical ingredients, with a few splurges, so when I'm cooking, I end up using ingredients I have on hand, which are the more economical ones. But if I meal plan, I'm not as aware which ingredients are cheaper, so I end up buying a lot of more pricey items that I need for specific recipes. I may or may not know the ingredients are pricier, as the prices fluctuate from week to week, even for staples. So I end up spending more. Whereas if I buy more staple items (and note on my grocery list when I want more specific items, which I don't mind buying. . . but not ALL specialty items), I still cook quite tasty, healthy meals, but for much less.
Has anyone else had the same experience?