Monday, August 8, 2011
I have general nutritional and financial goals in mind for managing our resources, but my husband and I prefer to keep things a little more flexible when it comes to the menu planning, or unplanning, as I would properly call it.
I start with certain staples and make sure that we always have a stock of them. These range from flours, sugar, honey, oatmeal, butter, or milk to items such as home-canned tomatoes that we use very often. Every Sunday after church I place a blank sheet of notepaper on the refrigerator. Throughout the week, if we run low on a staple item, I note it on the list.
In addition, there are certain items that we buy every week - cat food, fresh fruit and vegetables(whatever is locally in season), items for my husband's lunches, etc... I go over the weekly coupons and use these in filling in the weekly items on the list.
And then the fun part - the night before my grocery run, I look over our weekly schedule to see how many nights we will be home for dinner. My husband travels for work sometimes and on nights I'm alone, I just eat leftovers. Once I have that figured out, I look through my kitchen to see if there are any ingredients that need to be used up or any ingredients that are on a really good sale at the grocery and I'll use this information to help guide my menu brainstorming.
And where are breakfasts and lunches, you may ask? Well, we like to just put together our own breakfasts in the morning. I just make sure that we have oatmeal, yogurt and fresh fruit on hand. And for lunch, I always make sure we have dinner leftovers as well as items for making sandwiches.
So what are we eating this week? Well, it's the height of fresh veggie season so I'm making a couple of big dinner salads, one of which, a grilled chicken and corn salad, I served tonight. The other is spinach, tomato and grain salad and that's up for Wednesday. I have frozen biscuit dough to use up so I plan on barbeque biscuits(recipe to come) with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes on the side, and I'm rounding the week out with eggplant parmesan and a big peach pie. Thursday night is date night, so we'll have to see what my husband comes up with for that one! :)
This is a little more free flowing that what one will find on formal menu planning websites, but after 10 years of practice, I've gotten good at keeping an inventory of my kitchen which is the main skill one needs for this "method" - and I use that term loosely. It keeps us fed on nutritious meals with a minimum of waste and since those are my main goals in the kitchen, I rather like running things this way.