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Let's Panic: The Book!

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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
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At LET'S PANIC ABOUT BABIES, Eden Kennedy and I share our hard-won wisdom and tell you exactly what to think and feel and do, whether you're about to have a baby or already did and don't know what to do with it.

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Monday
Feb082010

Meal planning and more

If you're interested, here are some Momversation videos. You know, if you want to. I'm not going to push them. You are free to do as you like.

The first one is on meal planning. In this one, Karen refers to an article about a woman who plans her family's meals a year in advance, and wonders if any of us do anything similar, albeit less insane. I had some opinions.

If I seem judgmental, you should have seen the raw video, where I insisted that the woman in question was either a "liar" or a "dangerous criminal." Then I amended that to "dangerous lunatic." I STAND BY MY PREVIOUS ASSERTIONS. Don't try to convince me otherwise, because I'm not hearing it. I hate the idea of meal planning, hate it hate it hate it, I have better things to do with my time and you can't convince me that meal planning is important and virtuous and we should all know exactly what we're going to eat every day of the year. Not listening. My fingers are in my ears. La la la la la. I can't plan a week in advance, even. I've tried that, and I can't, and I'm not going to feel bad about it. I have far more important things to feel bad about.

Then, how do we teach our kids to be grateful?

Me, I take away every single one of my son's possessions every morning and then I make him earn them back. That'll learn him. Also I wake him up first thing in the morning by screaming AT LEAST YOU HAVE A BED. Or sometimes while we're playing together I'll shriek BE GRATEFUL! if he looks even a tiny bit surly. So he's always sure to be extra-grateful all the time, because this prevents The Screaming. Maybe. Sometimes I scream anyway, for the heck of it. I'm fun that way.

Reader Comments (48)

You are the best. And I am so glad that you are making me laugh every day now.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJanette
I love it. And I agree. Planning meals a year in advance......robotic chip implant.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkarin
We do a half-way decent job of meal planning for the week ahead.

I actually find it to be a RELIEF. I fought this for years thinking "Why do I need to spend time on that?" I figured I could just keep the house stocked with all the staples and then decide on the fly - so efficient!!

But I've found it's actually more efficient when I sort it all out at once. Sometimes (like yesterday) I even cook 3 of the meals on Sunday so that dinner time after work on Tuesday is EASY! EASY!!!

We also order a LOT less pizza delivery in this meal-planning model, which is the one reason I'm thinking of chucking the whole thing. 'Cause I like me some pizza delivery.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJustLinda
Coffee just came very close to hitting keyboard...
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErika
Ohmigod the screaming... That's got to be the best gratitude-instilling idea ever!
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLife of a Doctor's Wife
I'm Myers-Briggs type ISTP - which means I don't know what I want to eat until it's time to eat. I might not be in the MOOD. However, I would like to be more like JustLinda so that my diet could be a little more healthy - because, hello - I'm never in the mood for food that's good for me!
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Bug
The only thing I plan a year in advance is my well woman exam.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterhi kooky
Meal planning for a year is crazy talk. I bet she is one of those 'eat to live' people rather than a 'live to eat' kinda gal. I'm the latter and food for me is all about mood, comfort, experimenting. My husband is in the former category and could care less if we had cereal every night. So we typically plan a week in advance and shop accordingly. I love to cook and my husband is a great sous chef. If come Monday we don't want spaghetti we'll switch up the days and have spaghetti another night. Often expiration dates determine when we have what, though tossing it in the freezer is always an option. Then we typically have a non cooking night where we snack or make soup or frozen pizza. I tend to think of dinners that will yield leftover for lunch since we bring our lunches every day. That's the most planning I can imagine us ever doing. A year in advance? No way. Boring, tedious, monotony is not my thing. I wonder how her kids will react to the planning. Will they resent food when they have no choices or flexibility?
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKris
You. Crack. Me. Up.

Yeah, I am with you on this one. A year? I keep wondering how much time this took her? I knew a woman who did a four week rotational on her menu. So basically her family knew they would be getting Vegetarian Lentil i.e fake meat loaf every second Tuesday of every month.

Ok, then.

I tend to buy food in a really broad sort of way. We always have staples around and the Weird Veggie of the Week. I mean, food is food. And our food budget has never gotten out of hand. So, hmmmm. She actually troubles me just a tad.

Hmmm. Wonder if this woman is the same one who wrote the letter in the following link. Link to Crazy: http://emailsfromcrazypeople.com/2009/08/20/giving-thanks-that-isnt-my-family/
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterheather
LOL! Alice, you so Cray-zee!

You crack me up! AT LEAST YOU HAVE A BED!
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAndie
I'll confess to planning a week's worth of meals in advance, mainly so I can shop accordingly and know that I will have everything I need when I get ready to cook. It's kind of a pain to sit down and do it, but I work full time and pretty much have to start making dinner within half an hour of getting home, so it really helps to have something already picked out for that night. We switch the meals around a lot depending on what I feel like cooking, and I usually have one night designated as "take out" or "out to eat" or even "fend for yourself" (soup and sandwiches, leftovers, etc). I also only stick to recipes that are of the "30 minutes or less" variety for weeknights. If it's too complicated or has too many ingredients, it doesn't make the list! I'm still adjusting to the idea that I need to make a side dish with the main course to make sure we have vegetables. "You mean I have to cook TWO things? AGGGH!" We eat a lot of salad as our side dish. :)
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStepfordExile
I'm one of those frugal mom bloggers, and even I don't get the long-term meal planning. It just doesn't seem that hard to me to take a moment before I go to bed to think, Hey, I think I'll take some ground beef out of the freezer and then tomorrow maybe I'll make a meatloaf or a casserole or something. My meals are based around what's in the fridge and likely to spoil fastest, not around my plan.The only advantages I can see if I had a meal plan (which would be by the week) is that I could better hit goals like eating a beans-based meal at least once a week, eating meat-based meals only two or three times per week, etc. So I guess it would help me save money but so far that hasn't goaded me into actually setting aside the time.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarrie
Damn, woman. You are hilarious. I'm so glad you you are back here more often. What a treat!
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermethodpam
Oh Alice,

Please don’t hate the meal planners. I have to plan my family’s meals. I plan one week in advance. When I think about not planning my meals, I get really twitchy. OK, a little more than twitchy. My breathing gets a little fast and shallow. I start to panic. How will I know what to buy at the supermarket if I don’t have a meal plan? What if I try to make something Monday night that needs parsley and I didn’t buy any parsley? I don’t live in NYC anymore, it’s not like I can just walk to the corner and get parsley! If I have to drive to the store and get parsley now dinner will be a half an hour late and then there won’t be time to give my kid a bath before I collapse from exhaustion. Which means that she’ll have to take a shower on Tuesday morning before school which will add so much joy to our morning routine. And how can I get dinner on the table in the forty five minutes between the time the kid comes home from karate and the time I have to go teach karate Tuesday night if I don’t even know what dinner will be?

Don’t make me go through a whole week of that.

Please don’t hate all the meal planners. Just hate the ones who try to tell you that meal planning is a superior way of thinking and being instead of admitting what it really is: evidence of a serious spontaneity deficit.

February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLynne Marie Wanamaker
I can handle meal planning a week in advance. Two weeks top. But a year? How in the world do you know what you'll be hungry for six months from now?

But then again, I tend to get bored with food quickly, so I'm constantly looking for new recipes and meal ideas. So it's pretty safe to say that what I'll be cooking a year from now will be completely different from what I'm cooking right now.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara
I hate meal planning too. HATE. Sometimes I still do it, but rarely. We do a lot of cook one night, left-overs the next night. Less cooking, less planning, more time for play!
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMegsie
A year. She's obviously lying.

I plan 1 to 2 weeks in advance for all the reason listed in previous posts, but also because I have a full-time job I don't want to stop by the store every night before going home. That's 15-25 minutes less with the kids before they have to go to bed.

Also, I can never remember what I make for dinner from week to week. When I plan meals, I get out all the old plans and get ideas from there. Oh yeah, tacos! I forgot about tacos!
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterB
OH THANK YOU. I needed the laughs today!

Meal planning: OVERRATED.

Grateful: I'm totally stealing "BE GRATEFUL". And I'll credit you every time.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenna
I giggle every time I think of you screaming Henry awake every morning...thank you for that. I am so happy you are writing more. Thank you for that. See, I am grateful. No need to scream at me...The planning ahead...a week at a time, depending on what is on sale that week. A year...BORING and a little control freakish.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSheila
A year ahead is very strange indeed. How do I know that next summer at the farmer's market I'm not going to happen upon some lovely new squash to try or a that a friend isn't going to have a bumper crop of beets to give us (I hope not, but maybe I'll finally find that good beet recipe)or whatever, whatever, whatever. MOOD. SERENDIPITY. SOMEONE INVITES YOU OVER TO DINNER NEXT WEEK. Or you discover quinoa! And you love it! You want to eat it every day! Not sayin' that has happened to me or anything.

I plan 4-5 meals for a week, but don't always know which night we will eat them. We have 4 kids, so some kind of plan most of the time helps and makes life easier. But flexibility allows for those nights when my husband decides he wants to make BBQ bacon cheeseburgers and my kids LOVE THEM and are still talking about them 3 days later.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLynn
I can't see doing it for a YEAR, but at least putting meal ideas down on a monthly calendar would give me some things to choose from. I don't enjoy cooking, I'm not creative with it, and I would serve the same 5 meals week after week if I didn't sit down and pore over cookbooks or recipe cards or websites to come up with something different.

February 8, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterall things BD
I plan our meals weekly. I find it's easier to grocery shop and helped us eliminate excessive purchases and manage my time a little better.

But a year?? That ain't right.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJessica
I would feel so hemmed in by a year's meals in advance... that's just crazy talk. That said, I do *try* to plan a week in advance, if for no other reason than it makes grocery shopping easy and I find it saves money too. I'm not sure why that is, but I consistently spend less when I plan. Plus it makes me try new recipes when I go "ugh, soup AGAIN??? I gotta find something new." However, before I somehow managed to find the little switch in my head that allows me to do this, I would not, could not, in a box, with a lox, menu-plan. I don't know what changed for me, but now I do it 50% of the time and it's so rad when I do.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDaphne
I think it depends, actually, on where you live. My family moved this year from Park Slope, where we ran to the Co-op daily, with the string bag dangling off the stroller handles, to a place where we have to drive miles and miles to the grocery store. So we try to plan meals, because it's not just a stop home from the park. Except we fail, we always forget one crucial ingredient, because we have not acclimated to being long-term-thinking country mice yet. But our legs are freakishly strong.
February 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSnoot
I'm about to leave work, so I'll have to watch the Momversations later (something to look forward to!), but I just wanted to note that when I hurriedly typed in your website so I could get in a quick laugh before leaving for the day, my hands were all wonky and I accidentally typed "funskoopy." Awesome.

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