(Big big apology to my readers, our electric was out yesterday and I could not post, so this is a day late. Sorry loves!)
I used to have the most difficult time deciding what to cook. I would come home form work and look in the fridge and think “Ugh, can’t we just get chinese?” or mexican or whatever I was in the mood for. I did not grow up cooking, though I did grow up with parents who cooked every meal. So how did I end up like this? Seriously, anyone who is clinically trained, can you offer any advice?
So I had to learn to combat this habit of eating out for a few reasons: 1. my waistline 2.my budget 3.my sanity 4.my health
Here is the solution I came up with: Monday Menu Planning.
I got myself a white board & dry erase marker, a note pad & pen, cookbooks and the internet. These are my tools.
This is my process:
1. Make my weekly menu & write it on the white board
Iask myself, “what sounds good this week?”(When I lived in the US my thoughts were more like this “What is on sale this week?” This is wonderful if you are a couponer – I will tell you more about how I cut my monthly grocery bill in half with coupons in a future post.)
I write out what sounds good, usually I go to cookbooks and pinterest for inspiration. As I peruse pinterest throughout the week I add recipes to my pinterest “Food” board and then I come check them out later when I am making my weekly menu.
2.Create shopping list from menu
After my menu is complete, I go to each recipe and read the ingredients. Each time there is an ingredient I do not have on hand, I write it on my shopping list. (FYI I know my store’s layout: produce, canned goods isle, cereal isle, frozen food, etc. I divide my paper into 6 sections and then write my items in the corresponding area. Then when I move to my next recipe and start adding items to my shopping list I can keep all the veggies in one spot on my list and all the frozen in another spot. This way I do not have to run back and forth all over the store because I forgot this or that.)
3. Keep all recipes for the week together
Since so many of my recipes are online, I just keep the tabs open on my browser and then I can reference them on the day needed.
I bring my list, and a pen. I eat before I go (that way my brain, and not my stomach is the one shopping!)
5. Come home and put meal components into weekley baskets
I feel sort of genius for coming up with this idea. Heres where it came form: my husband is SUPER creative in the kitchen and loves to make meals with items we have on hand. This is great fun and has created many a fun memory for us (Otter-Pop Chicken, anyone?) BUT this means that my mela planning sometimes got hampered because I would be expecting an ingredient to be on hand and I would come home to find that, in fact, he had used it the night before on his culinary master piece. So these beautiful daily ration baskets were purchased form Target. I put the components for each meal into the corresponding basket (and if there is a paper recipe that goes in too) and the wonderful hubby knows that the baskets are off limits, unless I make him help cook (errr….I mean “unless he wants to help”) This has helped tremendously in my desire NOT to cook because so much of the work has been done (in under 2 hours) on another day. All I need to do it pull out the basket and follow the recipe.
So now you know how I do weekly meal plans, and you got a sneak peek into my pantry. You might be thinking, what the heck does have in there? Well, here’s my full disclosure photo:
You may wonder why I have beach and scuba gear in my pantry – two words, limited storage. and a toddler. and easy access. Our house is laid out in a funky way and the foyer leads right into the kitchen, so the pantry is right next to the foyer and there within easy access of the front door. So the pantry doubles as our coat closet, but in Roatan we do not have coats, we have beach towels and scuba gear. You might also notice the art supplies. I have quite a few, and again, they are here because of limited storage and my naughty toddler who fancies herself an artist also. My walls are proof of that.
How do YOU organize your pantry? Do you have anything weird (scuba gear?!) in your pantry? why?