Solution? Meal planning! Or eating out a lot. But then you have to decide what restaurant you want to go to and then figure out what you want to eat there ... and you have to have a large "grocery budget" and not mind eating 2-3 times the amount of calories you should be eating. ANYWAY - you should meal plan. I've been back and forth on this idea for a while because I don't like to be boxed in to eating a certain meal on a certain day. I can't tell you what I want to eat on Friday on Monday. I don't know yet. (For this same reason, I also tend to pack a lot more clothes than I need when we go out of town.) So instead of saying what meal I'm going to make each day, I decided to make a list of five meals that I can make that week. I know that there are seven days in a week, but for some reason I don't end up cooking on all seven nights, so why over plan?
Of course, having the plan doesn't help me come up with ideas of what to eat. I was still racking my brain. And then I had an epiphany - why don't I look through all those recipes I pull of magazines saying I'll making them "one day"? Well, "one day" has arrived my friends! Yesterday I went through all my recipes (a number of which were delicious looking desserts) from magazines and I picked ten to make in the next two weeks. Then from those ten recipes I made a complete grocery list and headed off to the farmer's market and the grocery store. It was great! I always have a list when I go to the store, but this time it felt more purposeful. This time, I knew where those ingredients were going. On a side note - I really recommend shopping at a farmer's market. It's cheaper, there is more variety and it's a lot of fun. Plus the people there know a lot about produce and can help you pick out a good vegetable from a bad one and give you tips on how to store and use them. And babies love all the bright colors. :) By the way - I picked recipes that compliment each other in ingredients so that I didn't spend a huge amount of money at the store. In fact - and this may shock some of you - for two weeks worth of groceries I spent $50. No lie.
So now I have ten magazine pages hanging from a clip on my refrigerator that I can make in the next two weeks. It's kind of exciting. Once I've cooked the meal and I like it, I take it off the refrigerator, cut it the recipe and the picture, mount it on a note card and put it in my recipe box so I will have it when I finish going through all my other magazine cut outs. Which will probably take another two years.
So here's my tips for you about meal planning:
- Make a plan. And make one that works for you.
- Look through your recipe box, cookbooks, and magazine cutouts that all women accumulate and find meals you want to make. And everyone should get the Kraft Foods Magazine because they have such simple but delicious recipes that are really cheap. And the magazine is free! Go to the website and sign up for it. Side note: as you're going through your magazine clippings and you see recipes you know you're never going to make - throw it out!
- Make a complete grocery list so you only have to go once a week or once every two weeks.
- Make a list of recipes you like so that you have an easy way of brainstorming your meal plan.
I'm so excited about having a plan! I know it's something silly to be excited about ... but I am and I don't care if you think it's silly. It will help me spend less time in the kitchen wandering aimlessly and more time with my family. So it's totally worth it.