I Am One Big Frugal Flop

I can’t make menu planning work for me. This past week, my failure to follow up my plan made me throw in the garbage three pounds of ground beef that I took out of the freezer to turn into meatballs but forgot to do.

I don’t understand why I can’t make menu planning work for me. Somehow I feel that the plan of Monday we eat X, then Tuesday we eat Y, and so on and so forth is too rigid for me. What happens when it’s 4 pm and I forgot to take the meat out for Tuesday’s meal? or what if I just don’t have time to make it?

I wish this entry was about how I found a way to make it work, but I haven’t done that. I don’t have the answer to this riddle. Meanwhile I’ll stick to defrosting meat in the microwave I guess.

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  • MJ

    I feel your pain. I also feel “stuck” when I’ve planned meals. And I can’t remember the last time I defrosted meat without the aid of a microwave. If I figure it out, I’ll let you know!

  • ckaal5

    I don’t plan my meals for specific days I just make a list of meals I know I have all the stuff for. Then we pick and choose from that list. Maybe that would work better for you? I usually make a list of 5 meals at a time and as we use a few of those up I add to the list. Maybe that would help you out?

  • Jessica

    I don’t think you’re a flop. You are frugal in many other ways that do work for you and your family. I can’t meal plan either. I also feel like it’s too rigid for me. People keep telling me it would simplify my life if I would meal plan or cool all my meals for a whole month or use a crockpot, but so far none of those work for me, at least not for where I’m at in my life right now. So don’t worry about it, be encouraged that you aren’t the only one, and just do what works for you and don’t feel guilty about it!

  • Amy

    I am with you there. Being single, and cooking for one, you would think meal planning would be a snap. Well, no sadly. Most recopies are for 4 servings (or more) right? So that means I

  • adrienne22

    Some weeks it doesn’t work for me either. I may decide I don’t want to make what I planned, or we have an unexpected event, or whatever. It’s not frugal floppiness, it’s just life! My one suggestion is when you are planning to use a lot of meat in the week to precook it. That way if something happens, you can still use it another way and don’t end up throwing it away.

  • Dr. Mom

    Don’t feel bad, I think there are many people in the same boat, including myself. I have made many plans but can’t stick to them also due to time, immediate desires, etc. I now just occasionally take inventory and make a list of possible dinners, and when I am uninspired, I pick something from the list. I have given up on defrosting for the most part – it usually ends up a week later in the trash. I now either defrost in the microwave or toss it frozen in the crock pot and it turns out just as good.

  • Julie Avery

    My mom always had a meal plan for the week but not specific days. When she put kids down for naps she would decide what she felt like eating that night and what she had time to make.Pleanty of time to thaw. If she wanted to have chicken more than one night then she would cook the chicken one night and reheat for a different dish later in the week. 🙂 Good luck!

  • Mama Koala

    I don’t meal plan, just make my list and decide that day. It works for us–we know what we have available and cook what sounds good that day. You are not a flop:-) Or, if you are I am too.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t be too hard on yourself…it happens to me, too.

    I like the idea of making sure I have the ingredients on hand for 5 or so meals. Then we pick from the list.

    However, today I am 1-2 ingredients short of every recipe! Go figure.

    I think it is a summer thing…busy…and our tastes are different right now…plus what’s available in the garden/market/farmer’s stands. It’s like it is all or nothing!

    I still find your blog helpful!

  • scrappysue

    I just stumbled on this site and you are talking about something near and dear to my heart. I am going to do some mini-cooking sessions with the really good deals found at my grocery store. Try googling once a month cooking to get the general idea of how to cook meals to freeze to help out when you are running out of time and so you don’t forget to use what you have thawed. For example, this week is a good week for ground beef. So I am going to load up on some (20-30 lbs. ) and then bring it home and make meatloaf, meatballs, brown some with taco seasoning, make chili and then make patties and freeze it all so that I have part of dinner on hand. Give it a go, it could help.

  • Mercedes

    well, I am glad I am not alone in my struggle. Not that I am happy that others are struggling, but you know what I mean. I think more like a loose guideline would work for me. I do think of what I have and need before I hit the grocery store. But a lot of evening it’s cereal for m for dinner. This is more than fine for me but it’s not fair for my husband or son. I am thinking a notepad outside the fridge would be helpful too, so I can see before I open the door what my intentions were for that day. Some baby steps and hopefully things will improve.
    Thank you for the encouragement!

  • Andrea

    Oh my goodness – I hear ya!!

    I always have good intentions, but end up eating cereal too. With a husband and two little boys, we just have to get a handle on it.

    I don’t know how much I have thrown away. Once lost 5lbs of hamburger, b/c I forgot about it….

  • Leah Belle

    another idea is a supper co-op! i am involved in one with 3 other families. I am responsible for cooking and delivering supper one night a week. this has cut my grocery bill drastically and freed up a lot of my time. it has even enabled me to enjoy cooking more…

    want to know more? read about our co-op here:

  • BusyMom

    I try to menu plan, but everytime I do, something comes up. I've actually started planning only about 2 meals a week that require fresh ingredients. Then, I rely on other meals like pasta that can be made up with stuff in the pantry/freezer. I tend to keep as many of the common ingredients on hand for our favorite dishes. We freeze shredded cheese, prosciutto, bacon, bagels, English Muffins, buns, etc, so that we always have them at the ready and can get them when they are on a deal. I generally try to get to the store on the weekend and get some fresh ingredients targeted for a couple of specific dishes (my meal plan), but that can be used in a variety of ways if my plans change.

    IQF chicken is a great meal saver, especially if you can find the tenders. They say right on the bag, from freezer to oven. No need to defrost. This helps a lot when you get to the end of the day and it is time to cook and you didn't take anything out. In the summer, I throw them on the grill and then can slice into a salad, or add some diced tomatoes for pasta, or make some rice and put it together for Chicken Fried Rice or just plain old barbeque chicken.

    Another nice thing is frozen hamburger patties, whether you buy them premade or make them yourselves. You can always take them right from freezer to grill.

    Other favorites at our house for dinner in a pinch are Breakfast for Dinner ideas – pancakes, omelettes, breakfast sandwiches, waffles, french toast, PB&J, and yes, even cereal. My kids love when I take those mixed berry or blueberry muffin mixes and follow the recipe on back to make pancakes – of course, if we have fresh or frozen berries, making up a batch of pancakes and adding them is better.

  • Anonymous

    I have also romanced the idea!! After 27 years of marriage and meals every night…..I still try it at least three times a year to make this work!! How silly of me… today is a new day and I am done…..I am not a planner, I married one(my houseband is an engineer)! I kind of think he knows that every night he asks,”so ..whats for dinner” and I reply back,”is it that time already?” I am so thankful that he loves me!!!! See I am the type that uses a lot
    of exclamation points!!I don’t like to plan….so there you go I am done!! No more failing at dinner planning, because I am not going to do anymore!! I am free!! Thank you for having common sense and sharing your blog.
    We eat every night and never go to bed hungry!,
    Kelley in WA state

  • Mercedes

    HI Busymom,
    I like the idea of having some pre-prepped items on hand for the nights I don’t have time/feel like cooking. Right now I keep browned meat and cooked shredded chicken. But we could do more. I actually found a resource that I want to share with my readers. I thought it was a pretty neat idea.

    I thinking your idea is great! You are right as long as we never go hungry that should make everyone happy!

  • Marcy

    I end up throwing away meat sometimes too…even with a plan. Life just gets in the way sometimes. Like some of the other commenters, even though I post meals to specific days on my blog, I usually end up picking and choosing based on what I feel like for the day. Some weeks it works, others, not so much…but I typically always do better with some sort of a plan vs. none at all.

    I don’t think you are a frugal flop! You seem to be doing a great job of cutting expenses in other areas. All that we can do is try, right? 🙂

  • Penny

    It took a while to get into the habit, but my plan comes together every Sunday, when I’m sorting through the sales and coupons. It’s almost automatic. “Oh look. Whole chickens on sale.” [note on list that we’ll have roast chicken on Wednesday – pulled from the freezer, with a freshly-bought chicken replacing the older one]

    Being flexible is the key for me. Sometimes my note for the day includes three courses and the page numbers from cookbooks, but sometimes all I write down is “pork chops”. That way, when I’m cleaning up dinner, I can glance at the list and see what I need to grab from the freezer for the next day. I’ll browse the pantry/fridge and come up with a cooking method and side dishes. Those five minutes spare me the exasperation of staring into a cupboard hoping for motivation the next day, plus I never hear, “Aw! This again?!?!”

  • The Tomball Three

    I do the same thing … as poster # 2.

    I plan meals for the WEEK, not for the day … and I have something like mushrooms which have a short shelf life, I try to make two recipes that need them, to use them up.

    I also keep things like the making for egg salad or grilled cheese and also always a frozen pizza just in case my meat I chose went bad or something happens or I have no time. Try that

  • Recritique.com

    There is not just one way to do things. Don’t worry. I am not a planner either. My mind just works differently.



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