Meal Planning

-Written by Steph

As you can see from Cel’s post on grocery shopping, he spearheads a very detailed system of getting food from the eight stores we frequent, to our home. But how do we know what to get in the first place? How does the shopping list get made?

Steph-directed meal planning!

A lot of people recommend doing up detailed day-by-day menu planning. I do that myself two weeks a year, when we’re doing a “drain” prior to our twice-yearly vacations. But for the other 50 weeks of the year? Forget it – too much work, and I suck at sticking to it when I really want something not in the plan(or really don’t feel like the dinner I picked for that night).Instead, we keep large basic stocks on hand of things like onions, pasta, rice, full baking supplies, a gazillion spices, canned tomatoes, chickpeas, and veggie burgers. We check the weekly flyers of most of our eight stores and buy whatever is on sale, which means there are big variations in what we eat throughout the year. This helps prevent Oh-God-Not-That-Dish-Again syndrome.Our repertoire of dishes is massive, and growing all the time. There are two reasons for this – Cel keeps buying me cookbooks(I have a few dozen), and when I’m bored I poke around at food blogs and my kitchen cabinets.

One thing a lot of people have trouble with is work lunches. It doesn’t seem to be a problem that gets better over time either – both me and Cel have co-workers in their 50s who haven’t figured out a system for it. Our system is really simple: I bring sandwiches, fruit, and nuts, while Cel brings leftovers. We make sure there are enough different types of leftovers that he isn’t eating the same thing every day. Simple.

Part of my job as a Hospitality Clerk is throwing out people’s old forgotten shit from the communal fridges at work. While it’s pretty nasty at times, it really hammers home the importance of fridge management! We have very strict rules about keeping everything moving through the food system, which reduces waste tremendously and saves us a lot of money. After dinner every night, leftovers are immediately portioned into individual serving tupperware and placed behind anything currently stored, on the ready-to-go shelf (Cel differentiates between “Food” and “Ingredients” – we have a specific shelf in the fridge for “Food”). This makes it very easy for Cel to grab the oldest thing for lunch on his way to work.Finally, snack foods are the downfall for a lot of people. It is absolutely critical to keep things around that are easy to eat and require no preparation if you want to avoid eating out or picking up chips and cookies. I make sure we always have bread and sandwich supplies on hand, bake a couple of times a week to keep some supplies on hand, and often keep some cookie dough in the fridge for an easy snack. While baking supplies aren’t cheap, they’re much cheaper than the alternative, and well worth keeping on hand.

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