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.