How Do You Meal-Plan?

By: Jen Shoop

When I was growing up, my mother would sit at the dining room table every Sunday morning, clipping coupons from the circulars and planning our meals for the week accordingly. She’d then post a weekly menu on the fridge in her loopy script — “Monday, Meat Loaf; Tuesday, Tuna Casserole; Wednesday, Salmon…” (we ate as though we still lived in the 1960s for much of my childhood) — and when she fielded the inevitable whiny “What’s for dinner?”, she’d direct us to “the menu” with a knowing look, shrugging off complaints, as if to say: “Well, sorry. That’s the menu. It’s immutable. Etched in stone. It’s been handed down by God.” After mapping out our meals, she’d draw up tidy grocery lists on narrow pads of paper, organized by store aisle. Such was the impressive scope of her organizational skills–and the depth of her familiarity with our neighborhood grocery. When we’d descend upon the supermarket, shopping was an organized affair in spite of the fact that she was often accompanied by five (!) children clambering for her attention: aisle by aisle, meticulously selecting the pieces on her list, no ingredient forgotten and — usually — no last-minute add-ins permitted. The staff behind the bakery counter routinely gifted us small, flavorless butter cookies in squares of parchment paper: the highlight of these perfunctory bi-weekly excursions.

Grocery shopping with my Dad was far more eventful. I remember him lingering in the produce section, tossing big bags of not-on-sale plump cherries and pricey fruit preserves into the cart, asking for samples of exotic cheese, palming little gold tins of fruit hard candies. Even better: he almost always gave in to special requests. “Can I get these chips?” He’d glance over and nod, distracted by an exotic $7 melon. “How about these gummy worms?” “Uh, sure.”

Looking back now, I understand my mother’s seeming austerity when it came to meal-planning and grocery-shopping: it was not only a major and time-consuming part of her weekly duties (she shopped every Monday and Thursday, usually needing that second trip to refill the larder with extra gallons of milk, jugs of juice, and produce) and therefore needed to be handled with efficiency, but her approach pre-empted questions and enabled a lot of other activities in our household to run smoothly. She was able to structure her days in order to prepare whatever needed to be prepared for dinner on an appropriate timetable, whether that meant putting something in the oven two hours early or dicing vegetables in the morning so she’d have time to get the meal on the table by six in between carpool and after-school activities.

But at the time, I felt as though meals were a perfunctory, borderline saturnine component of our lives: something to be ticked off rather than enjoyed. When I lived abroad in France, I vowed to “shop like the Europeans,” picking up a fresh cheek of fish and a handful of fingerling potatoes from the farmer’s markets that cluttered the squares of Lyon — or stopping into the local supermarket for baskets of in-season cherries and wedges of emmentaler cheese with a fresh baguette. “This is how you live,” I thought, fashioning myself as a bon vivant, indulging in the delicacies of the season.

Mr. Magpie lived in this way for most of our married lives: a stop at the grocery every day or two or three to pick up whatever was needed for supper and the next couple of days. A couple yogurts, a handful of plums, some fancy seeded crackers.

It wasn’t until our move to New York and mini’s entry into toddlerhood that I found myself sloping towards my mother’s habits, understanding, for the first time, the tremendous cost- and time-savings she managed to accrue owing to her hyper-organization around meal planning. I started placing routine Instacart orders for staples every Sunday: milk, yogurt, fruit, sparkling water, butter, vegetable must-haves like lettuce and cucumber, sandwich bread. I started keeping meticulous inventory of pantry staples like Justin’s peanut butter, Bonne Maman jam, McCann’s rolled oats, and mini’s favorites snacks (freeze-dried fruits, goldfish, applesauce pouches) and ordered back-ups whenever they were discounted. And then, in the last couple of months, Mr. Magpie and I started sitting down on Saturday mornings to plan our meals for the week like two blue-hairs from the 1950s. We poke fun at ourselves for this, but I can’t explain the amount of undue stress it has removed from our lives. You see, Mr. Magpie is a foodie. I could probably get by with a last-minute omelette or a clean-out-the-fridge salad and hunk of bread for most dinners. But Mr. Magpie needs a well-rounded meal — protein, veg, starch — and he likes variety over the course of a week. Most of our meal planning touches upon which protein we should have (“but we just had chicken last night!”) and how to vary the cuisine (“too much Mexican recently — what about some Vietnamese?”) I nurture his dietary predilections because he does more than half the cooking around here and I’m not in a position to complain, and, besides, I benefit from his varied palate. I’m not a song repeater, but when I like something, I’ll eat it every day for weeks if you let me — something that amuses and frustrates him. So he’ll sit with a stack of our favorite cookbooks in front of him and toss out ideas while I’ll call out some of our “staple dishes” until we’ve rounded out the menu for the week. We nearly always plan to make enough to have leftovers of each dish a second night so that we only cook three nights a week — unless we’re cooking seafood. Neither of us like second-day fish. And then he or I or both of us will head down to the butcher on Sunday morning after Church (we’ve noticed a precipitous decline in the quality of meat from Whole Foods in the last two years and now nearly always buy our meat from either Dickson’s Farm Stand, Eataly, or the Union Square farmer’s market) and I’ll add whatever other ingredients we need to our weekly Instacart order.

Oh, the birdsong I have heard ever since we adopted my mother’s formerly stodgy-seeming habits–especially now that we have made an effort to eat with mini at the table alongside us. I usually get dinner started (sometimes completed) while Mr. Magpie is still at work, and he’ll come home and finish things off, especially when there’s a steak to be pan-seared or a roast chicken to be carved, duties I am sure I could master but that I have always relegated to him, as master chef and man of the house. Pasta is usually under his purview, too: he’s a master at cooking it to the perfect level of al dente (P.S. — if you haven’t bought bronze-cut pasta from Afeltra, you haven’t lived; it totally changes the quality of even the most basic of pasta dishes. We buy it in bulk quantities from Eataly every time we are down in Flatiron.) and he’s gotten quite good at the art of “marrying” the sauce to the noodle by incorporating just the right amount of starchy cooking water.

Or if we’re both at home, I often handle the sides (and always the salads — I’m good at making homemade dressing) while he’ll treat the protein, as he’s particular about dry-brining and wrapping or not wrapping his meats in the fridge the night before. I can never keep up with his latest discoveries: does he like to let his pre-seasoned steaks sit on a wire rack, loosely covered in a dish cloth, or has that now been superseded by a new experiment with saran wrap? These are the intricacies of food preparation that interest me not at all, but that — I know — mark the difference between us as home cooks: he is all about detail and process, and I prefer…we’ll call it pragmatism in the kitchen, and I’m quite certain he’s a better cook than I am for it. But. If he hands me that damn Zuni book one more time with its over-fussy instructions, I might scream. Of course, the recipes always turn out flawlessly and I think, “OK, fine. Maybe he has a point.” But reading her recipes is like sparring with a really nit-picky know-it-all. “Add a decent amount of oil, but not enough to wilt the leaf. Chop the parsley finely but not too finely or you will break down the cellular…BLAH BLAH BLAH.” It’s like that scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall when Paul Rudd is telling Jason Segel how to stand up on a surfboard: “OK, pop up. No, do less. Pop up. Do more. You gotta do more. Pop up. Do less man.”

But I digress.

The bottom line is this:

Somewhere over the course of the last six months, we have evolved into new, more disciplined and organized, versions of ourselves. A part of me wants to say that this is owing to the imminent arrival of a second child and a corresponding need to stay even more organized than before. A part of me wants to say that New York has forced this orderliness upon us, as grocery shopping is no longer as easy as jumping in a car: there are crowded supermarkets, subways to navigate, long check-out lines, empty Oatly shelves (why is New York perpetually suffering from a shortage of Oatly?), the trickiness of knowing how much you can carry home in two bags with you, the fancy footwork of making sure you schedule your Instacart order appropriately as sometimes — especially in inclement weather — they will experience a surge in orders and be unable to deliver until the following day. But most of me knows that this is part of the inevitable march of time, the slow evolution of my youthful self into a version of my mother, a coming of age, a welcoming of this new, heavy-on-the-vine season of life.

How do you plan your meals?


+There are two items at the top of my kitchen gear wishlist: a Smeg four-slice toaster (we currently have a very good, perfectly proficient two-slice toaster but I am already finding that I am toasting things in batches for just three of us and I love the styling — but DO note that this thing is HUGE so I will need to make sure it actually fits in our next kitchen/after we move in the fall) and a Vitamix blender. We have a decent blender by Breville (actually the first kitchen appliance Mr. Magpie and I ever co-owned…one that led to quite a lot of hand-wringing TBH) but we’ve come to the conclusion that there is simply nothing as powerful as a Vitamix and any other blender is subpar. (Read reviews!) We’re in a place where we don’t use our blender enough to legitimize the purchase of a new one “just because it’s better” but…I’d love it.

+I daydream of an enormous pantry lined with utility shelving where I can stow every possible ingredient and access it with ease. One day, my friends. One day. And I will stow everything in these and these in tidy rows.

+Nothing tickles my organizational fancy more than my beloved label maker. It truly sparks joy in my soul. I actually might buy one of these for my sister — I think she’d get a kick out of it, too.

+New spring-to-summer candle scent: Lafco’s Duchess Peony. How did I not know about this elegant scent? Obsessed!

+All of my favorite kitchen gear.

+These are the best solution for food/leftover storage. They never warp or color, can be microwaved, and create an airtight seal. Also, you’re never left trying desperately to shoe-horn one side of the tupperware top onto the lip of the bowl like you are with those plastic cheapies. When we move to NY, we threw away all of our plastic tupperware and invested in a good set of these and I’m so happy we did.

+Is it embarrassing to admit that I sent Mr. Magpie a birthday wish list and among several of the items here (at the top of my wishlist: this bag), I included this Miele vacuum? I’ve mentioned my love for this vacuum about two dozen times on this blog but I really, really want to upgrade to it.

+This is a super clever solution. We use colanders but I occasionally find that the water in the base of the sink floods the basin of the colander, which is kind of gross.

+Another random thing that sparks joy in my organization-loving soul: these can organizers, which I use to stow all of our sparkling water and San Pellegrinos. Stowing the boxes in the fridge blocks out a lot of light and also tends to take up too much space. It was actually hard to find a soda can organizer that stacked, but this one does! And the lid means you can stow extra stray cans and other items on top.

+Two unnecessary items that I own and love: this ceramic berry carton (how pretty!) and this wood and marble platter, which I love to use when serving cheeseboards.

+A really good source for reasonably-priced monogram applique pillows.

+Adorable sheets for a toddler bed.

+Dying over this sweet babydoll pram.

+Did anyone else grow up with a breadbox in their home? Mr. Magpie finds this product so bizarre (and we certainly lack the counterspace for one at present), but we always kept bread in one of these. It’s meant to keep bread fresh and also — I like the fact that it keeps it all organized.

+There’s such a thing as a proper meal planning notebook?!

+Unrelated, but just ICYMI: my favorite caftan is on sale for only $60! I now own this in multiple prints/patterns and wear them alllll summer long.

+This post reminded me of my musings on adulting, part I and II.

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34 thoughts on “How Do You Meal-Plan?

  1. Can I share how I meal plan? But you can’t judge me or kick me off ok this blog as I love it. So. I love cooking – nothing fancy – but I cannot handle deciding what to cook every day at 4pm, running to the store to get supplies. And I have a toddler and a job. And I am training for a marathon. So yeah, I need to meal plan. 😉

    I made up a routine and I love it:

    Sunday – a big pot of something (curry, lasagne etc)
    Monday – leftovers
    Tuesday – veggie meal / fish
    Wednesday – another meal that has leftovers
    Thursday – leftovers
    Friday – brinner…………usually eggs and potato waffles, often cereal and toast.
    Saturday – steak or takeout
    Now the even more nuts part. I made out a google doc and divided it into ‘one pot meals’ / veggie meals / main course salads etc…..everytime I make something we deem a ‘keeper’ it goes into the doc. Then when I meal plan I can look there for ideas. As I do lots of leftovers, and Saturday is always an easy option I am only really picking 3 meals a week. Which I pick from my saved pinterest boards (I said I was nuts) and/or cookbooks.

    You could obviously assign any type to each night and you don’t have to do leftovers…..but knowing the ‘theme’ to each night helps planning so much.

    Another good option for lunches, make a soup on a sunday and you should get 2-3 lunches out of it. Then it’s Thursday and almost the weekend so you’re sorted!

    Oh, last thing. I got an IP – best purchase ever, Being able to start a curry at 5.30 and have it cooked (and cooked really flavourfully) by 6.15 is amazing.

    1. This is brilliant!! Going to steal your google doc idea — I feel like I am always forgetting dishes we promised we would make again. Love it! And love how organized you are. Xx

  2. My stepmom has always had English Mastiffs, and, therefore, a Miele (they are the best for dog hair!) When she upgraded to a new one a few years ago, I got her 10-12 year old one for my college apartment. I am only 22 but getting a new Miele of my own is seriously the only thing I care about on my imaginary future wedding registry. They are the BEST!

  3. Who would have thought we’d have so much to say about grocery shopping and meal planning? Further proof that everything is copy.

    I make a comprehensive grocery list every weekend, and meal plan in a relaxed kind of way, however I do religiously prep both breakfast and lunch for Monday to Friday (breakfast only because I prefer not to eat until I’m at work, but refuse to pay for eggs or avocado toast or an omelette every day and am not a huge toast for breakfast person – gimme the protein!) Lunches are usually something I’ve made a big batch of on a Sunday afternoon – I too will happily eat the same thing for weeks on end if I like it! When it comes to dinner, my boyfriend and I find that if we cook a couple of bigger dinners early in the week, we can usually get by with only cooking once or twice from Monday to Thursday, which is a huge burden relieved as we both tend to work longish hours and I like to exercise after work. A fun thing we’ve recently implemented though is ‘Souper Sunday’ – we’ll cook a big pot of soup on Sunday afternoon which is heavenly as Sydney heads into winter. I imagine in summer we’ll do Salad Sunday instead.

    1. I know, right?! As I wrote this, I was caught between: “who will care about this topic” and “everyone will care about this topic.” It’s a daily/weekly part of everyone’s life, and there are a lot of hacks to be learned from other smart women 🙂

      I like your approach, especially the idea of making a big batch of something for lunches on Sunday. That’s my next goal — tackle lunch planning. Right now it’s (literally) hand to mouth.


  4. I honestly used to go to Fairway every evening for dinner supplies. Our neighbor called it her “pantry.” But now living in the suburbs and having a toddler, I map out the week’s meals without fail (and organize the shopping list by aisle, just like your smart-cookie mother!). We are also sticking to a structured diet plan, so that means packing my husband’s breakfast and lunch every evening, taking into account what will hold up on his commute. I used to LOVE cooking and still sometime enjoy it, but making every single meal from scratch, every single day of the week… some of the luster has rubbed off.

    1. I hear you, friend! Some days I am exhausted at the thought of starting something new at 4 PM. One thing Mr. Magpie has done a good job of is freezing halves of recipes when we make something “big batch.” There’s a realllllly good recipe for a shredded pork butt you braise in coca cola (!!!) from an Anthony Bourdain cookbook that he always makes in big batches and then freezes in smaller portions. The same goes for things like chili, gumbo, etc. It’s heaven for those days where you’re like “I CANNOT BE BOTHERED TO MAKE SOMETHING NEW.” I need to get more into the habit of this myself.


  5. I would love if you would share some of your go to recipes for dinners! I’m always looking for ways to get out of my weeknight cooking ruts

    1. Ooh – great idea! I will do this. A couple of quick hits until I get a post together — these are the recipes we return to time and time again:

      +America’s Test Kitchen Beef Taco Recipe — this is like the hard shell El Paso taco night dinner you grew up with, but elevated and SO DELICIOUS. We actually usually use ground turkey: https://www.geniuskitchen.com/amp/recipe/americas-test-kitchen-beef-tacos-502216

      +Mario Batali Weeds with Sausage — so satisfying; kind of spicy — http://cooktogrow.blogspot.com/2009/12/weeds-with-sausage.html

      +Roast Chicken — we follow the Zuni preparation method and it is OUTRAGEOUS. I’ve also tried, with good success, the buttermilk brined chicken from “Salt, Fat, Acid Heat.” I’m sure you can find both online as they are widely lauded. We almost always serve chicken with orzo dressed in butter and lemon and whatever veg looks good — I’m super into broccoli rabe with garlic these days.

      +Linguini and Clams — Landon follows the Anthony Bourdain preparation. Outrageously good.

      +Baked Fish in Parchment — I’ll need to track down the recipe for this, but I think it’s probably pretty fool-proof. We wrap little parcels of halibut/white fish with sliced olives, fennel, orange, and a little white wine in parchment paper and bake for like 15 minutes I think.

      +Hangar steak with red wine/shallot reduction. We use the Daniel Boulud recipe.

      +”Mmm chicken” — I forget why we call it this, but it’s basically chicken cutlets pounded thin and dredged in flour, egg wash, and then panko bread crumbs, pan-fried in butter/oil. We serve this with angel hair pasta and make a little sauce of butter, shallot, parsley, and white wine to toss over everything.

      +Bucatini all’Amatriciana — I will need to ask Mr. Magpie for his recipe for this, but this has become one of my go-to most requested dinners.

      +Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage — same as above. I’m realizing we eat a lot of pasta in this house — ha!

      +Shrimp boiled with old bay, lemon, beer, peppercorns. A Mid-Atlantic classic. We serve with baked potatoes or oven fries and some kind of fresh veg.

      I’ll share more soon, but those are a few favorites.


  6. Another vote for your mother as a WoS! And I, too, am an inveterate “European” shopper, despite years of vowing to buckle down and meal plan. 100% agree that doing so encourages experimentation, is much more cost-effective, decreases cognitive load etc. Maybe after baby dos, I’ll finally buckle down and do it! This post and comments are great encouragement.

    1. Yay! She is going to love all of this 🙂 Will feature her soon.

      Re: meal planning. We talked about doing this for literally YEARS and I don’t know what prompted the sudden shift. I think you just need to be ready to commit. Mr. Magpie and I often poke fun at ourselves for being overly structured. We’re really bad about last minute plans in particular — we need like 24 hours notice in order to do something. Not a great trait but it’s the truth. So this meal planning really fit well with our type A personalities, ha!


  7. Love the discussion of meal planning because I was hyper organized about my Sunday meal prep ritual but since I’ve been pregnant and still so sick at 22 weeks, I am winging it every night (no meat most nights and each week it seems there’s another food I add to the “no” list), but can’t wait to get back into it as soon as this baby comes.

    I have never been able to eat leftovers. Sometimes I can repurpose some leftover meat into a new meal, but mostly I just can’t eat the same thing two nights in a row.

    Interesting you comment about Whole Foods meat because we quit buying meat from there about three years ago. First we all got food poisoning from salmon and then we brought home what appeared to be very fresh ground beef and it was rancid. How can it be? Well they told me they add food coloring to their food. So that salmon or beef, yep, not really that pink. That was the last straw for me. It was almost enough to force me into vegetarianism but we found a great local butcher who only sources meat from family farms within the upper Midwest (where we are located).

    Oh also, we own a vitamix and a blendtec and I must say I actually prefer to blendtec (way easier to clean but just as powerful for most uses).

    1. Ackk — I’m so sorry you’re still under the weather! That’s horrible. Yes, give yourself lots of grace right now and eat whatever feels good…

      That’s SO funny about leftovers. My brother-in-law is the same way, and it drives my sister crazy since she’s extremely resourceful and constantly trying to figure out new ways to eliminate food waste. She actually often “sneaks” leftovers into new meals/permutations — ha!

      AND OMG about WF! Just another proof point for me. It’s so expensive to buy protein from the high-end butchers around here but the tradeoff is worth it — and, actually, Mr. Magpie and I tend to purposefully purchase smaller rations of protein anyway. We prefer to double up / fill up on veg and incidentally find that higher quality meats (i.e., very well-marbled steaks) have higher fat content and fill us up more quickly anyway.


  8. I have that Smeg toaster. It is really cute but it sends pieces of bread flying in the air to land inevitably either in the kitchen sink or on the floor. It is also really cumbersome if you have to move it around, but somehow the slots are not particularly wide. I am not about to get rid of it given the cost, but I would look for something better if I were in the market.

    1. !!! Jessica! Thanks for keeping it real (and saving me money and frustration). Will do some more thorough research on this purchase before investing. I’m normally very thorough about kitchen gear research, but here’s an occasion where I was letting aesthetics drive the bus. Thank you x 1000!!! xx

  9. Yes to the bread box! Ours was wooden and kept on top of the microwave or toaster oven. My grandma uses one as well!

  10. I meal plan every Sunday and generally go to the grocery store only once a week if I can help it (save random weekend trips or if I need something super fresh).

    I plan our meals (dinner every night and my lunch every day) Sunday-Thursday. We have standing Thursday night Mexican food date with friends so we don’t cook that day. Then our weekends never look the same so I don’t like buying for them so we go as needed/clean out the fridge from the week. I usually do a big salad to take to work during the week, 1-2 tried-and-true dinners- and 1-2 new dishes.

    What I do, and what sounds like wouldn’t work for you, is to try to group meats, i.e. buy a big pack of chicken and make 2 chicken dishes to cut down on cost, prep time, and waste.

    Regardless, meal prepping/planning for us cuts down on spending for daily lunches at work and randomly eating out or ordering in when we’re home in the evening. It’s harder (though not impossible!) to order pizza when you know you have all the ingredients for the dish you had planned on making.

    1. This is SO true, JC! Mr. Magpie was just saying last night that we order in a LOT less than we used to, and we’ve never been the kind to order in a ton anyway. This may sound strange, but ordering in is often more stressful than just making dinner — ha! It takes us forever to agree on what we want. We are so annoying. Anyway. We now actually plan those “ordering in” nights into our weeks, too, if we know we want a treat — a pizza or some Indian or whatever.

      We actually do order bigger portions of proteins than we typically need and then just freeze half for when we will need them! That’s a great suggestion, too.

      Inspired by your organization — LUNCH planning is next level. We’re still a little scattered on that front and I will be honest and say I have a PBJ, avocado toast, or a salad from around the corner more often than I’d care to.


  11. I love the Paprika app for meal planning. I’ve imported all of my mom’s tried and true recipes along with some more modern ones from Cooks Illustrated and the NYT. It allows you to categorize recipes so I note the cuisine and the main protein so I can easily search based on my mood. There is a calendar that allows you to assign recipes to dates and times and import the ingredients into a weekly grocery list. You can also track your supplies, “do I have brown sugar? Crushed tomatoes?”

    1. !!! Had not heard of this magical app! Going to be looking into this immediately. Thanks for the tip!


  12. I live in a studio apartment but splurged on a Miele a few years ago and it’s so good that I honestly look forward to vacuuming every Saturday. Worth it! And you’re right about the Vitamix- I scored a lightly used one for $100 from a friend who was moving to LA and it’s unreal. Although it does sound like a plane taking off, so definitely not something you can use when anyone is sleeping.

    1. HAHA! A plane taking off. A welcome trade-off to our current situation, though — we have a decent, moderately-priced Breville (well-reviewed) but I swear it starts to smoke and explode every time we toss ice in there. And what’s the point of a blender if it can’t crush ice?! Definitely going to upgrade to the Vitamix at some point in our future.

      MIELE DREAMS. Need one of those.

  13. I agree with Maura — would love to read a WoS feature on your mom! I’m so impressed by her (and your) meal planning strategy. I am more like the Mr. Magpie of yore in that I tend to shop 3x/week (or sometimes even more, eek) for the groceries I need for just that day and the next. Since I currently work from home, I do tend to plan out my lunches, but I’m sure I could save money & time by planning out dinners better, as well.

    I was tickled by your description of grocery shopping with your parents as a child, as it was quite similar for me — my mom stuck much more to a list, and my dad would let us get all manner of treats (after we’d return from the store, my mom would archly say, “Oh, you went shopping with Santa?” Haha!)

    I’ve been intrigued by the Zuni cookbook since you first mentioned it, but am actually more interested in just making a res at Zuni Café next time I’m in San Francisco. Ha! 🙂 xx

    1. OMG, Zuni will NOT disappoint. (Let them do all the fussy hard work, ha!)

      I will definitely feature my mother in an upcoming WOS post — great idea 🙂


  14. My mother has set up her grocery list the same way for as long as I can remember: horizontal page layout (from the same spiral notebook she’s also been buying for as long as I can remember) and she writes what she needs in small groups by how the supermarket is set up (produce, then meat, etc etc). Her ability to organize and streamline impressed me before but it amazes me now. Also, the Keepers Cookbook has been consistently delicious and the recipes aren’t too fussy if you need to add another one into rotation. https://www.amazon.com/Keepers-Tried-True-Weeknight-Happiness/dp/1609613546/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=keepers+cookbook&qid=1558616735&s=gateway&sr=8-3

    Although we end up making basically the same 5 things every week with maybe 1 new thing to experiment with, because we’re crazy like that 😉

    1. Hey — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! I am always the one returning to staples/basics and Mr. Magpie’s always lobbying for new things 🙂 It’s all about balance.

      So funny that your mom organized her lists the same way!


  15. YES to the Snapware. Such a small thing, but it does make a huge difference. I converted ages ago and am so glad I did. (Plus, I feel infinitely better using them in the microwave as compared to their plastic counterparts.)

    Like you, I long preferred the “European” way of shopping at the market, but these days with a toddler it’s just not as feasible. I need to get in and out of the supermarket, else the little munchkin find something else she wants me to buy/decides she’s over the shopping cart. Another plus I’ve found to meal-planning is that I actually DO get around to that random recipe I bookmarked. Before, while I’d save a ton of recipes, very few would ultimately get made as I’d inevitably return to my old standards when pressed for time. But now that I deliberately plan the week’s menu, those ingredients get added to my shopping list and the new dish gets made.

    For others interested in meal planning – I really like the Cook90 column from Epicurious (also a cookbook). Not feasible for me to cook EVERY meal (nor do I want to), but there are some great concepts I do follow (notably the idea of “nextovers”.)

    1. Hi Jen – That’s such a good point that I’d not thought fully about; meal-planning encourages us to test new things that we might not otherwise if we were caught in the “just going to dash off to the store” mentality, when I’d be more likely to just fallback on things I know by rote.

      Cook90 column! Will check that out! xx

  16. Jen, your mom sounds like such an impressive woman!! I think you need to publish a Woman of a substance feature with her 🙂 Sounds like we could all learn a lot from your mother! Xx

    1. She will LOVE reading this comment 🙂 And I think you’re right — a WOS feature is in order. She is THE best. xx

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