Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Project #1: Meal Planning

Yesterday I mentioned my two-part strategy for getting into domestic shape this fall.  Well, for my first project I decided to set aside some time and plan out dinners and grocery lists for the next 6 weeks.  Ambitious, I know.  It's just that I hate working all day (I know...I work from home, but it still counts), and then opening the fridge only to find the sad remnants of meals gone by.  Then my husband walks into the room, and the conversation goes like this:

him: so, what's for dinner?
me: well, I'm not sure.  what are you in the mood for?
him:  I don't care.  whatever.
me:  that doesn't help.
him: I can just microwave a tortilla with cheese.
me: but you had that last night.
him: so?
me (concerned by this point for his nutritional health, but still unmotivated to cook): alright.  what's on tv?

The thing that bugs me the most about this scene is that I know better.  I know that homemade meals tend to be more well-balanced and healthy.  I know that cooking makes me feel better.  I know that the food I prepare tastes better than take-out (okay, maybe not all of the time).  And I know that it costs less.

I also know from experience that planning menus ahead of time, with accompanying grocery lists, greatly increases our chances of eating real food (contrary to popular opinion, tortillas and cheese do not count).

My most recent epiphany in this on-going challenge is to create menus ahead of time, and then keep them on file for the next year.  Normally I just throw them away, along with the grocery lists once the week is over.  But I'm going to try to start a "menu notebook" and see how it goes.  I figure that if I liked it this year, chances are good I'll like it next year too.  Perhaps I'll get into a food rut, and the plan will backfire.  But if it has even the potential of saving me time, money and that damn tortilla conversation, it's worth it!

Incidentally, there is always a ton of resources online for grocery shopping and menu planning.  Check out this link to Good Housekeeping on saving money in the grocery store, as well as my go-to place for recipes, MyRecipes.com.

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