Taking the frustration out of meal planningSunday, February 16, 2014
For an absolute age I'd been wanting to get organised about my meal planning (not to mention just more organised in general). So when Sophie wrote about her food rage recently and I found myself nodding in agreement all the way through, and then again when I read through the comments, I decided it was time to take action.
Sophie's post seemed to strike a cord with everyone. It's so nice to know that I'm not the only one that struggled and found meal planning a chore. I wanted to stop the I'm-all-out-of-ideas frustration when it came to food and what to put on the table.
So, here's what I did
First step - write an inventory.
I pinned this post about making and maintaining a freezer inventory a while ago thinking I'd 'pin now, read later'. Who knew this would be the first of many such pins I'd actually go back to and read? It's pretty self explanatory really - it's basically just writing a list. It now sits in my pantry, along with a pencil to make amendments.
Secondly, sort out my recipe file.
I had a file full of recipes taken from magazines that, more often than not, never made it to my plate. I sorted them into types - meats, fish, seafood, veggie, side dishes, baking and puddings, putting my favourite recipes at the front of each section. I'm contemplating putting a page at the beginning of each section listing my favourite recipes from books with the page numbers... just for quick reference.
And finally, make a meal plan.
When I was growing up my Mum always had a plan (she is the most organised person in the entire universe, and often exasperated at my 'winging it' way of life). Sunday was roast day, Monday was my favourite - oven chips, bacon, eggs and beans (or mushy peas). Mum called it a 'scrappy tea', I called it delicious! I was a fussy eater as a child (I wouldn't touch a vegetable) and this was the only meal I would eat without complaint, or having to sit at the table until it was all gone. I never ate it, it used to go cold and I'd sneak away from the table when I though Mum wasn't looking - little did I know that she saw everything. Anyway, Tuesday was mince - cottage pie or lasagne and such, Wednesday was... well, you get the idea.
I decided to do the same but make a two week plan to help me to cook a larger variety of meals, I often get stuck in a rut of cooking the same recipes over and over and over again. I planned meals using my inventory and wrote a shopping list for the perishable items and ingredients I'd need. I placed an online order for things needed within the next few days and kept the lists for top-up shops in my diary. I added a new recipe to try each week but mainly stuck to tired and tested (and easy) recipes during the week.
Imagine my immense smugness when asked 'what are we having for dinner', I was able to reply 'just tonight or for the next two weeks?'
I wonder how long I can keep it up?