Friday, January 15, 2016

Meal planning

Marisa over at foodinjars put up a post yesterday about how she approaches weekly meal planning. I thought I had written about how I do it before but can't find anything now and since I tend to go through phases of using slightly different methods it seemed like a not entirely terrible idea to make a note of what's working now. It might not work forever but it has been pretty successful so far.

Edited to add: Ha! I knew I'd written something about this before and today I randomly found it. Not a full post but just as part of a longer post on a productive evening last August.

Because I get my organic veg box delivered on a Thursday, it meant having to change up how I approached the week completely. Since you get your delivery on the day everyone else in the same area gets theirs so I can't change it. When I was still working, I used to check the order every Monday morning, make any changes (it's an excellent system and I can make substitutions online up to a couple of days beforehand) and then print out the order. These days, and not having a working printer at home at the moment, I've decided to wait and just use the delivery docket. I'm more flexible on time anyway so I can pick up anything else I need on the same day so it's not such a big deal to not have my plan ready in advance.

So here's this week's:
Might not be the prettiest but I find doing it by hand works better for me.
As well as the list of what I'm getting, I add the main things I already have in the fridge.
Then, I list the days, with two lines going from each: one for lunch, one for dinner. Even though my meal plan week really starts on Friday, I still always start this list with Monday.

This week I got lamb's lettuce, a pouch of red cabbage with apple, onions, leeks, potatoes and apples. I also run through my calendar to try and make appropriate choices for days where I might have a lot on. Being at home almost all days at the moment certainly makes this task a lot easier, though. I do prefer to eat a hot meal in the middle of the day and I can do that without having to think about flasks and heating stuff up in the morning.

Sidenote: Pru, if you're reading, my food flask is a brand called Emsa - I tried to leave a reply on Elaine's post but it wouldn't go through. Tried commenting on your blog last week, too and that didn't work either (that was a link to Dr. Doom's post on investment policy statements, which I thought you might find interesting - also links on that website to the jlcollinsnh stock series, which I've heard lots of praise for).

Where was I? Ah yes, the joys of not going to work every day. Anyway, once I have my meal plan set out, I make a list on the other side of the page with any items I might need to buy in. My store cupboard is looking fairly well-stocked at the moment so it's not much. And I picked most of this up while I was out and about this morning. I had an unexpectedly productive day, actually. I only went out for half-an-hour and ended up spending more like three hours going all over the place and getting seven or eight niggly little things done and dusted. All I'm missing now is ground cumin - I might try and make it to one of the Turkish or Indian supermarkets tomorrow. I crossed thyme off the list in the end because I remembered that I have a big jar of herbes de provence and that'll do instead. I keep a memo on the first screen of my phone with a note of anything I've noticed that I need to stock up on, too, so between that and my meal plan list, I'm all sorted.

My final step for meal planning these days is to enter what I've handwritten into another memo in my phone. No excuses if I'm not home to say, "Well, I have nothing to cook at home, I'll eat out/get chips on the way home". Not having to make a decision and not even needing to remember what I had on the list makes life just so much easier.

The main thing is to always remain flexible. So long as you're not running the risk of something going off, switching meals around or bumping them to next week is fine. Today, for example, I ended up out of the house for much longer than planned and was really hungry by the time I got home. I'd already put two slices of bread into the toaster before I'd even taken my coat off. There was no way I was going to wait for as long as it would take curry and rice to cook, no matter how much of a very quick recipe it was. I knew I still had a few slices of bread left though and tea and toast hit the spot very nicely.

I made the curry (bhuna recipe from mortgagefreeinthree except that I used beef) this evening and have just polished off a huge plate of it. And a smaller plate of lamb's lettuce, 'cos I really need some green stuff in me at the moment. It was fantastic, even if I do say so myself. I made a double portion (so it should have been four servings) but ended up eating nearly half. I'm giving myself until the end of January to get back to cooking properly all the time and then I'll concentrate on portion control a bit. I've used up the last of my curry-in-a-hurry paste though, so need to make more soon. I cooked the white beans I'll need for the Turkish bean salad this morning so they're in the fridge and ready to go. While the curry was cooking I washed the lamb's lettuce so it's easy to just grab a couple of handfuls of that for the next couple of days to go with whatever else I'm eating. And I think tomorrow morning I'll get the leek and potato soup going in the slow cooker before heading out for a walk. That way, it's done and will be also just be sitting in the fridge waiting to be used. And with that, my cooking for the week will be more or less done.

Forgot to mention that Marisa also posted a link to a page she has of recipes she likes and uses - definitely something I want to do so I'm going to add a page to my (not-used for a long, long time) food tracking blog and start making a list there.

1 comment:

Baroness Prudent Spending said...

Thanks for the links Moonwaves! I completely forgot about jlcollinsnh - will need to revisit his site!