Saturday, January 21, 2012
1. Even if they aren't the healthiest meals, it's a good idea to plan in some of your favorites.
If you don't plan for them, you'll end up making them/getting them via takeout anyway. This causes more food waste (or makes you overeat) and costs more money than if you'd just planned for it in the first place. Or you'll just end up feeling deprived and that's no good. Two weeks ago, I wanted pizza. I planned for pizza. I got to eat three meals from it and it was within my weekly budget/food plan. It was darn good too...
2. Even if you've made a dish over and over, check the ingredients and check your pantry for those ingredients before you go to the store.
If you end up coming home without a major ingredient, it's frustrating to have to re-work your whole plan around it.
3. Buy/prep food you will actually eat. Just because it's good for you, if you wont eat it, it's a waste of time and money. If it takes a little extra prep, do it.
I love oranges. I hate peeling oranges. I carried an orange to work for 3 days last week. I carried the same orange home 3 nights last week. If I wash/slice oranges and keep them ready to eat, I'll eat them. In five minutes I can have a bowl of orange slices ready and it will provide multiple snacks. Learn what these things are for you and do them.
4. Find out what schedule works for you.
These things work for me:
Plan weekly. It works best for me to plan menus, write list on Wed/Thurs night, shop on Friday, and to do most of my cooking on Saturday. Sometimes it's on Sunday/Monday before I finish my cooking, but I feel a little rushed all week if I'm still cooking then. And if I've planned well the week before, I'm out of prepped food by the time Sunday rolls around. When I say I do my cooking, I really do cook everything I'm going to eat for the week most of the time. Sometimes I'll just prep things to make a quick throw-together meal. If it's done ahead, I'll eat it. If it's not, I'm out looking for something that I can just open and eat.
I also make it simple on myself. I'm cooking just for me, so 3 different types of meals are good for me for a whole week. My basic plan is: One soup, one salad, one something else. BTW, I don't care if I don't eat regular breakfast foods. Anything I'll eat for lunch or dinner, I'll eat it for breakfast. If you wont, plan specific breakfast foods.
5. Plan in snacks/treats.
6. Keep some basic questions in mind while you're planning.
Your questions might be a little different, but these seem to be working for me so far.
- What ingredients do I have that MUST be used this week?
- What ingredients do I have that CAN be used this week?
- Is there anything I'm really in the mood for?
- Do I have/can I find any coupons?
- Is there anything I should add to my pantry this week?
Thursday, January 19, 2012
One of these goals was to become a better menu planner, meal preparer, and grocery shopper. When I don't plan and prepare ahead, I let the stress of every day get in the way and end up with lots of good healthy food going bad in the refrigerator while I head out for a tub of hummus and some carrots or crackers.
For three weeks, I've planned a menu, grocery shopped on a specific budget (even used a few coupons) and prepared meals (or at least ingredients to make easy meals) ahead. As a result, for three weeks, I've had good healthy homemade meals.
At this point, I've mostly been using cookbook recipes (some new, some tried-and-true) and making up very little. At least through the winter, what I'm trying to keep in mind as a basic plan is one soup, one salad, and one something else. Since I'm just cooking for me, that works great. As the year progresses, I'm even hoping to plan in some freezer friendly ideas
So my question is this - are you interested in hearing about the menu planning? I guess included in that would be some recipe reviews, possibly some new recipes, lessons learned, some failures and some successes. It will probably be a once a week post, but it might be split up a little so that I can give new recipes some extra attention. Just a warning, there are a few recipes you will probably get REALLY tired of seeing on the menu list. At the top of that list would be the caesar salad from Appetite for Reduction.
Here's an example of what I did one week:
A batch of chipotle lentil burgers with sweet potatoes cut to make baked "fries"
A batch of hummus
Chopped broccoli for40 clove chickpeas and broccoli later in the week
A jar of Caesar salad dressing
A batch of Arabian Rice and Lentil Soup (one of my favs!)
Roasted vegetables and pine nut cheez for pizza later in the week
Bonus: Extra bread crumbs and chipotle peppers to go in the freezer for future use
I promise if I'm going to blog on the menu, I'll try to take more appetizing photos than this one.
By the way, I'm also doing a project 365 blog this year. If you're interested in keeping up with that it's at http://drsimpson365.blogspot.com/