Monday, January 10, 2011

Clean out the cupboards: Finding success in planning ahead

Cleaning out the cupboards. Wow, I should have done this a year ago!

Week 1 flew by, the kids ate with little complaint, but I had a few struggles.

1. Planning a menu.
2. Planning my plan B.

I started this week with great intentions. I got my new laptop out, settled in with some cookbooks and started planning out recipes to try when certain key items went on sale. What I should have done is plan out more than a day or two in advance what we were actually going to eat, because we weren't planning on hitting the stores.

It is one thing to plan a menu. It is one thing to roll the dice and hope your food defrosts in time.

More than a few times, we had to scrap our meal plans because the sauce or meat from my freezer was still a frozen hunk in our fridge. And, with little in the way of produce in our fridge (our winter market had been closed for the holidays), it presented a larger challenge to make a well-rounded meal.

But we survived. Frankly we ate quite well, all things considered:

  • Peanut butter oatmeal and blueberry baked french toast for breakfast (both easy fixes that were fast to reheat on school mornings)
  • My mother-in-law's chicken wings for New Year's Day
  • Pitas stuffed with a fabulous makeshift mixture of ground beef, spices and tomato pesto (will post recipe later)
  • Grilled chicken
  • and more.
I have to admit, you can probably do anything for a week, and we've been fortunate that we were able to make it through with very little in terms of purchases. We even cleared out a few condiments along the way. Sure, I haven't touched much in the way of vegetables, and we've had to make some creative substitutions, like maple syrup for honey in oatmeal bars or black beans instead of red in chili. But we managed to get away in week 1 with only purchasing milk, honey (which I thought I needed for a later recipe), two cans of tomato sauce and (blush) Diet Coke. Not bad for a family of four, who just found out their budget's being ursurped by not only tuition textbooks and home association fees, but also the replacement of a toilet, not a small expense.

Staying away from the store will be difficult at best. It's hard to break the routine of just picking up something on the way home from work, or to start the routine of thinking ahead for an entire week. But by forcing ourselves to think ahead, I think we'll be far better for it, and wiser in what we do spend later.


Rebecca Jean said...

I am so struggling with making a meal plan. I have managed to stay out of the store - so far. But, Mister is home on vacation this week and not at all happy with the "lack" of food in the house. I.E. Nothing he can just open and pop in his mouth. Heaven forbid you should actually have to combine ingredients and cook something!

I know I'll be heading to the grocery store tomorrow, but I'm hoping to only get a few things to supplement what we already have. If I could only figure out what we will be having I would know what those few things will be. I fear I'll come home with a whole cart load of groceries, trumping the challenge.

- sigh -

♥ Rebecca Jean
Midnight Maniac

Robbie said...

I hear you (and honestly exempted my husband from the challenge, since he's home all day too!)

The good news is if you like to cook it's not nearly as painful! Though trying to come up with recipes from ingredients seems to take a lot more focus. Good luck!