Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Meal Planning: Week 1

Despite saying in my page on spending less money that meal planning isn't really for us, I made it a resolution to be a bit more organised about dinner. But I didn't want to adopt the kind of meal plan that requires choosing recipes, buying specific ingredients, and following a plan very strictly. We need flexibility, and also Andy gets a little grouchy about buying things full price when there are on-special alternatives, so specific ingredients are rarely purchased in our place.

Our first week of meal planning didn't come about as much through planning as through indecision. Scene: Sunday morning, after breakfast, on the couch. Me: Do you want to go to the market? Andy: We probably don't need to. Me: But the only veggies we have are corn and lettuce... Andy: Well, let's have... dhal, nacho salad, burgers, gnocchi with pesto, and pumpkin risotto. Me: Wait, let me write this down.

So we had a vague plan. Then I realised I wanted fruit so we went to the market anyways, and came home with some more things: potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and beetroots (plus bananas, a bucket of mangoes and three pineapples). Add to that our eggplant bushes heavily laden with quickly-growing fruits. So I amended our meal plan.

Monday and Tuesday I was home still, not yet finished with my holidays. So I did a lot of prep stuff for the coming week - cooking beans, making chappati breads, and roasting eggplant. And then we enacted our meal plan: no set schedule, just a pretty good idea of what we could make given the ingredients on hand, and no real thinking required (for those nights after work where thinking is very undesirable). Here's how it shaped up.

Monday: Nacho salad. Chips and lettuce on the bottom, a mix of kidney beans, sweet potato, tomato, corn and rice in the middle, and a fresh mango-pineapple-cucumber salsa on top.

Tuesday: red lentil dhal with wholemeal chappatis. I didn't snap a photo of this, because it was just dhal.

Wednesday: kidney bean burgers, with grilled pineapple (under the patty), potatoes, and corn on the cob.

Thursday: gnocchi with eggplant balls and a pesto-y, tomato-y sauce.

Friday: Andy went off script, and crafted a semi-delicious curry of eggplant, tofu and jackfruit.

Since this seemed to work reasonably well for us last week, I tried again on Sunday, this time going a little more adventurous and looking for recipes that we could use. I'll give week 2 a post of its own when we've finished it, but so far meal planning seems to be going well. As long as it doesn't require buying special things, and we have the flexibility to cook what we feel like on a given night, it seems to work for us.I guess I should update the part about not meal planning soon...

8 comments:

Amy said...

The kidney bean ones - based on the 'bacon cheeseburger' recipe? Looks yummo!

Dee said...

I find the ride home to be ample time to decide what to make out of what we have, and what I feel like eating. I can't imagine buying ingredients for a meal plan, like you I go with fresh and cheap and in the garden. I don't know what I want til I am getting hungry!

Kari said...

I like your flexible planning. We do our supermarket shop on Saturday and I do the fresh produce shop on Sunday and I will admit to sometimes not planning meals until Sunday afternoon. It's not the best order. I am trying to move it back a bit to be more organised and not have wasted produce!

Theresa said...

@Amy - yes! beans, sweet potato, oats... that was basically it. Very yummy :)

@Kari - that's kind of our strategy. Go to the markets, decide what we can cook with what we have. It's kind of just a more formalised version of what we've always done, with a bit more effort put in on Sunday so less is required each night. We both seem to cope badly with full time work!

vegga said...

I like your approach to meal planning! Our current approach is a little more formal, but I hope to get to something like this one day. My partner isn't terribly comfortable with being spontaneous in the kitchen, though, so he wants to work from recipes pretty much all the time.

But! This weekend he told me that he's finding it a lot easier to choose meals that make use of food we already have in the house. I'm similar to Andy in that I don't like buying lots of full-price items, so this pleases me. :)

Joey said...

Gnocchi wins it for me! I'm a sucker for meal planning -if I don't have a list with me when I go to the supermarket, I end up basically buying two pounds of crisps and loaf of bread, or loads of odd ingredients that linger accusingly in the back of my cupboard.

Joey said...

Gnocchi wins it for me! I'm a sucker for meal planning -if I don't have a list with me when I go to the supermarket, I end up basically buying two pounds of crisps and loaf of bread, or loads of odd ingredients that linger accusingly in the back of my cupboard.

veganopoulous said...

Looks great and you've given me some ideas :) Looking forward to seeing your next meal planning post!