Sunday, April 24, 2011

Meal Planning ~ What's working at the moment

aah, remember the days when groceries were still packed in paper bags?

Life has it's seasons and at the moment I'm in two at the same time - Pregnancy and Uncertainty!

Pregnancy is pretty self explanatory - I can plan meals all I like but all too often I just can't stomach the thought of what is on the meal plan!! I've never had this before in pregnancy so it's taken me till about 8.5mo to figure out what was going on LOL

What have I done about it? I've cooked as planned most of the time - occasionally swapped things around i.e. tomorrow night's option swapped for tonight's and so on, as that can sometimes work.
When cooking up what was already planned, I got over the guilt if I didn't want to eat it. I served it up to the family and then prepared/ate whatever it was that I felt like! The family didn't seem to have issues with it and hubby graciously didn't complain even on the couple of occasions that I was sitting eating a small steak while he was eating a chicken pasta casserole. Thankfully he LOVES 99% of my cooking anyway!

Uncertainty though? At the moment it's because bubs is due this week. Any day now. In fact, today would be great (Please Lord?!) Other times it could be because we know we have to head off at short notice for something and need to be ready to go.

In times like this I find the best thing to do is 24 hour planning - and plan according to what needs using up most urgently from the fridge. For 2 reasons - coming back to science experiments in the fridge is never fun and most importantly, to be a good steward of all we've been given, food wastage is foolish. It's a waste of both the food that could feed SOMEONE and the money spent to buy it in the first place.
You know that pumpkin you bought for $1 a kilo but then had to toss half of it out? Well, the half you used then actually then cost you $2 a kilo! Those strawberries for $8 a kilo but then 1/2 went mouldy and were thrown out - the ones you ate cost you $16 a kilo!!!! Get the idea... food wastage is mighty expensive!

So look in the fridge and make note of what you have that is heading towards your needed 'use by' date and plan those things into the first meals FIRST.

Even when not in times of uncertainty, this is one of the best ways I have found of keeping the grocery budget down. Look and plan every 3 days. Or more often. This often because once you plan, 'day 3' may have a meal on it that will use up some capsicum and mushrooms but then mother in law invites you for dinner that night. If you don't reassess frequently (and it only takes a few minutes) then before you know it, the capsicum and mushrooms will be furry and dried up and in the bin!

At the moment, this is what I am focusing on. It's one of the basics of home making and doing the right thing by the family budget. It's not an added extra for when life is quiet. It's the home makers job. It gives you the choice of either spending less, or of being able to buy higher quality foods.

Track your wastage for a couple of weeks (I will be!) and see if you can have ZERO edible food wastage in the kitchen... even those celery leaves can be finely chopped and used in a salad, soup, stew or casserole...


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