Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Update: Meal Planning

So I wanted to check back in on the meal planning and offer some thoughts.  I really got a little militant about the whole deal and did something that I think was tremendously overboard, but if I keep it up, might just come in handy.  I made an inventory of my food.  Fridge.  Freezers.  Pantry.  If nothing else, this should help with grocery lists or when I'm too tired to cook.  Now I know what ready-to-eat meal I can thaw from the freezer when I'm really too tired to think.

Another great thing about meal planning is that I know what I'm going to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Sounds remarkably easy, but even on a diet, I usually open the refrigerator door to decide what I'm eating next.  Now at least, that ambiguity is replaced with two or three options from which I can select.  Although, honestly, I sort of miss the mystery of the way I used to live.

Finally, I've been pretty strict in trying to finish up the food I have before it goes bad.  For instance, I am often ready for fresh food and wanting to cook something new before I've cleaned out what I already prepared.  Which is how things get rotated to the back of the fridge and become science experiments.  So, I say to myself, "You can have those things when you finish X and Y."  I cook less often.  Yes, that makes me sad, but to think that in my race toward novelty, I was usually costing myself money.  Ugh.  For the next several days, I have to work on the beef from the bourginon (using as taco filling) and turkey (bbq shredded turkey that I'm using for sandwiches at work).  I am thinking I'd like to clear out those four remaining green stuffed peppers I have in the freezer soon.  I won't feel like eating them once the weather turns.  I still have wild rice soup and white chili to work on.  I have a LOT of nice cuts of venison, chicken, and shrimp to finish up over the next couple of months.  Looks like it may be time for some gumbo!  Maybe it will be time soon to drag out the bbq grill.  I'd love to say that this new dedication to eating what I have and eating it until it is gone is saving me money, and surely it is even if it is difficult to put a price tag on, but the cost of fresh vegetables has skyrocketed (gas prices and bad weather, I'd guess), and I'm going to have to make a switch to frozen soon.  I am NOT happy about that.  Luckily, local produce will start coming in soon.  Not soon enough in my mind.

Oh, and on a final note, my inventory pointed out that I have more of some things than I can possibly eat in a year and I'm getting rid of them.  I have two pounds of breakfast sausage in my freezer that belongs to my brother (Christmas present of all things) and another two pounds that I didn't eat myself last year.  So I'm giving some of this stuff away.  Along with some other canned goods from the pantry.  If you aren't going to eat it, I say get rid of it to someone who will.

So how is meal planning working in your house?  I'd love to hear new ideas.


  1. I have three similar problems when it comes to meal planning...
    1) I make a fancy meal that is totally new, eat it for one night, and the rest goes to waste. I need to work on making less of each dish--I'm terrible at estimating how much spaghetti I will need, for example.
    2) And I've found that a) I am so obsessed with new recipes that I never make the old ones that turned out really good and b) a lot of new recipes really suck.
    3) I spend too much time in the kitchen. I know, that sounds silly, but I need to simplify. D-ennis comes home hungry and wanting to talk about the day. I head to the kitchen and cook for an hour while he munches on chips. And then its time for Jeopardy and he's done thinking about the day. I'm thinking to try the approach of making several things on Sunday so that on Tuesday and Wednesday I can just pull them out, heat them up, and garnish. =) We'll see how that goes.
    I made myself sit down two nights ago, think back over the last four months, and write down all the meals I've made that were actually worth making again (my 'go-to' list). I also made a list of ones that have potential, but need to be tweaked (that meatloaf could have been good if only..., the chicken pot pie that was just a bit too dry...) The next month is going to be spent working on perfecting the recipes I've tried and liked (and since I've already tried them once, they should take less time), and making smaller amounts.

  2. That's a very good point and brings up an idea that we might be able to share our "go to" recipes that we've tried recently. I've tried to go back and amend my recipes with comments after I tried them. How about this? How about we each make a list of our 10 Go To Meals and post them? Then we can exchange (or post) recipes that others are interested in.....

    This could be good.

  3. I have been trying to avoid throwing out leftovers lately myself. I have always been really bad about wasting food....especially leftovers. This past weekend, I knew I wanted to make a pot of (turkey) chili, but I also wanted to make chili dogs. So I made the chili and we did the chili dogs on Sat. We had the leftover chili, as chili itself, last night with some cornbread and fruit salad. I had hoped to not have any more left after last night, but I do. I feel it is probably too old to freeze for later, but at least I didn't throw out as much as I usually do.

    Lately when I have leftover cooked meat (grilled chicken, etc.) I have been chopping it and putting it in the freezer for a future quick meal fix, such as chicken and rice with peas or mushrooms. In fact, sometimes I purposely make more than I know we will eat so I will have leftovers for sandwiches, etc. later in the week.

    I have some frozen fruit in the freezer that I realy need to use soon. I'll inventory that and see what I can come up with.


Comments welcome. Feedback on recipes appreciated.