|How I do love a good Anne Taintor magnet! My meal planning research|
suggests that posting a weekly menu can cut down on persistent
"what's for dinner" querying from the kiddos. Someone report back on that.
Partially, the sameness had to do with less refined culinary skills and lack of time, but mostly it was me finding comfort in the familiar. I don't mind leftovers and repeats, and I often go on food "kicks" wherein I'll eat the same thing day after day after day after day, and then never want to see it again (hello, Greek yogurt!). But someone in the household complained about the lack of variety and it wasn't Goliath.
At first it was a challenge to think up new dishes (this was pre-Pinterest, after all), but I readily got into the habit of hunting down recipes and trying more exotic (to us) ingredients. In the last few years, I've spent a ton of time in the kitchen learning new cooking techniques and experimenting. (It helps that I consider chopping a stress relieving activity.) So it is no wonder that my food spending got a little wild over the last couple years with my "everyday gourmet" attempts at foodie-ism.
But as kitchen austerity measures are in full effect in the Redden household, I'm cogitating on ways to manage expenses and reduce waste. In addition to saving my kitchen scraps for stock, this means some measure of meal planning.
What do all of these methods have in common? They all begin with taking stock of pantry stores, keeping staples on hand, and figuring out a method of grocery shopping (there are as many shopping techniques as there are meal planning types, it seems!).
2. Pantry staples. Cooking is infinitely easier when you've got a good supply of basic staples on hand. For instance, my kitchen is rarely without red onions and garlic, olive and canola oil, organic chicken breasts and thighs (frozen), hamburger, pasta, marinara (jarred or frozen), diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, chicken stock, flour, rice, cornstarch, and cheese (cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan). I tend to buy those items in bulk when possible and then do light shopping every week for perishables. I try to keep milk, sour cream, bell peppers, celery, onions and broccoli stocked, too, so I'm always able to throw together some sort of meal quickly.
|There are give or take 7 million free meal planning and grocery list|
3. Shopping lists. Presuming you've taken stock of supplies and chosen a meal planning method, then comes the shopping. Some folks plan meals around grocery store circulars and sales, but I know I'll never be that methodical. Others keep a pre-printed list of staples to check every week with a fill-in area for extra ingredients required to make meals.
Yours truly keeps three grocery lists- One for bulk items usually purchased at Costco, one for perishables that usually get picked up once or twice a week from the regular grocery store, and one for staple stocking up, which is often a trip to Winco, a discount grocery store. Now, if I would just stick to the lists I make, I'd be fine.
Do you use a meal planning method? Any hot tips for grocery shopping? Do tell!
Other kitchen/cooking posts: