Meal planning

12:49 PM

Let me just check that we have all been there at least once...ending up with too much groceries bought, and letting some of it go bad simply because you bought that zucchini with just a glimmer of an idea of a recipe in your mind, which you obviously forgot about a few hours later, and remembered only when you found that half decomposed thing at the bottom of your vegetable tray in the fridge. Sound familiar to any of you? Yes?

I managed to find a constructive solution to that problem a while ago, but have fallen off the wagon often, only to get back on it at the first sign of rotten crap making a come back in my fridge. Here it is:

This is a weekly meal planning, in the past I used printables that looked cute to do it, now I just keep it on any piece of paper that is blank, and slip it into a page protector I taped inside one of my kitchen cupboard's door. Every weekend, I sit down and think about what I will cook for the next week. I only plan lunches, breakfasts are usually super easy and quick to fix, with mostly fruits, occasionally fried eggs, sandwiches, and once a week some idlis. DH takes Indian food cooked by the maid in his tiffin on most day, and I know we need 3-4 veggies for that. Ishi and I eat different cuisine through the week, namely because being a foodie, the same old dal sabzi roti bore me to no end, and I want Ishita's palate to get used to different tastes and textures early on. The "rule" for my meal planning is that at least one dish a week should be a new recipe I want to try! and to make sure I remember to find it on the day itself I write the book, magazine or website in brackets. All dishes should tie me to the kitchen less than 30 minutes, as I or cook while Ishi is in school, or right when we come back when it is a quick one, the actual cooking can be longer, but I should not be physically present in the kitchen all the time, so that I have that free time to do something else. And I plan only weekdays, Saturday and Sunday are left blank, because we are or going out, or there is enough leftovers from the days before to eat these few days while I plan the next week of meals.

As I write my menu planning, I also complete my shopping list with the ingredients I will need to buy an don't have, because my other simplifying tip is to just buy grocery for the week in one trip...and that one I know is not really popular in India, but save an emergency such as running out of eggs, suddenly wanting to bake a cake and having no flour, I do not go buy food the rest of the week. For two reasons, very simple ones, the first one, being that the kirana store is not exactly nearby and even if I love walking, going the and back home will eat about 30 minutes or more out of my day, then because it is too easy to just go out buy something to avoid using what you have home. I ended up wasting money and food doing so that way. Most vegetables stay nice and fresh in the fridge a few days, and I make most of my super veggie loaded dishes at the start of the week! using the most delicate ones first, and the ones with a longer shelf life later. I also make a point to use one pantry or one freezer item at every meal I plan. And it never failed, all the weeks I went through this process, not only did we eat better, it saved me a lot of time, delivered me from the dreaded question of "What to cook today?" and ended up saving us money on our weekly grocery bill.

The one thing I miss with my new thrifty way is the cute factor, but I really don't like wasting ink on printing a page that will end up in the trash, the dream meal planner for me will look like this:

A while back, I saw this picture of a giant restaurant type chalk board in a newspaper supplement, I kept the clipping for inspiration and one day I will probably end up with something like it, I just haven't figured it all out yet, but the idea is still on my mind.


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