Don’t even try to deny that is the best, most compelling blog post title ever! Yeah, so you’re only getting one blog post again this week, due to sickness (kids’) and lack of sleep (mine). But I do have a small offering and it just might change your life.
(For the better.)
It is meal-planning.
Recently I heard a stat that is completely wackadoo: according to a recent study, Americans throw away nearly 40% of the food we buy. (Think on that for a moment. Okay, continue.) If you want, go ahead and use the Google to find out what this means for water waste, increased greenhouse gas emissions from rotting food in landfills and the amount of money you might be throwing away annually. Also, only 28% of Americans say they can cook.
I am not being judgy or bossy. (I’m being slightly bossy.) Let’s think of it not as bossiness but as unsolicited helpfulness.
I am really good at meal-planning. There are many things at which I suck. Gymnastics. Swallowing vitamins. Behaving normally in a great deal of social situations. But this chick can meal-plan.
I created a standard grocery list and print a copy every week then cross off and add to it as needed. This is a blank one. I shop at several places, so they’re all on here as well as a little OTHER column for those one-offs. I know—I’m such a dork.
You can totally do this, too. I swear that you do have the time. I developed this skill when I was in graduate school full-time and working 40 hours a week simultaneously. And even though I didn’t possess actual small humans in those days, believe me when I tell you that schedule is something like having 7 newborns with at least 2 of them screaming at all times.
(I am totally being bossy today. It’s the lack of sleep. Or that I’m bossy.)
I promise you, this is quick and easy. Okay, you don’t need a fancy app, but you do need to start with one of two things (or both): a little stash of recipes you like and/or a little list of things that your family likes to eat. Now jot down the days of the week. Choose 5 meals and, depending on what your schedule looks like for the week—when you’ll be getting home and how long each recipe will take to prepare, etc.—decide what meal you will assign to each day. I say 5 because chances are you’ll have leftovers to eat on the other days. If you want to only cook 4 days of the week, choose recipes that produce a high yield and hence a larger quantity leftovers. I do suggest choosing recipes that are quick and easy for weekdays and save those that are more challenging and time-consuming for weekends. And I promise that if you decide to switch things around during the week no one will stop you.
Next, make your grocery list based off the ingredients that your chosen recipes require, plus your usual staples.
I write in my weekly meals plan here as well. This sheet may seem a little much, but it really makes my life easier. I categorize the items by department and also list stuff in order by aisle. (I’m a freak.)
Grocery stores tend to induce the fight or flight response in me—
it’s best for everyone if I get outta there quickly.
If this all seems like, doy, I know—I get it. But before I devised this system, I was one of those people who threw food away every week. Not only do I never throw out fresh produce or meat anymore, I almost never even throw out leftovers. ‘Cause I plan.
Bonus Tips! Freeze those leftovers! If, after a day or 3, it seems evident that you are not going to consume a container of leftovers, label them (don’t question me on this one) and toss them in the freezer. Some night when you don’t feel like cooking, you will rejoice over that container. And if you make a soup, double the recipe and freeze half. Soup freezes really well and doubling is easy since soup is pretty much just a bunch of stuff you bung in a big pan. Double lasagna filling and freeze half. Double veggie or chicken pot pie filling and freeze half. (Use pre-made pie crust—cheat! Who’s gonna know?) Make a double recipe of meatballs and freeze half. (Are you getting this?)
See? Easier than executing a cartwheel. Or carrying on a normal conversation with the cashier at Hannaford.
(Expect more unsolicited helpfulness in your future. You can’t wait.)