STEP #2: MEAL PLANNING
Now that you are IN TUNE with your kitchen, here comes the fun part--planning what you are going to EAT! If you love food as much as I do, this part is actually a lot of fun. I get super psyched when I find new recipes for our family to try. So, where do you begin?
ONE: Always begin your weekly shopping list with your staples that need replenished. This will likely also include things like almond milk, yogurt, bread, eggs...and whatever else you always have on hand. (Refer to the list you made yesterday of your kitchen staples, too!)
Then, use what you have** to inspire next week’s meals. It’s important to start in the fridge, since this is what is most perishable. Leftover broccoli? A half block of cheddar?
Then, move to the freezer. Leftover quinoa? Frozen pizza dough? A bag of spinach? And finally, the pantry. Cans of black beans? Tons of pasta?
You are going to use THESE INGREDIENTS as the baseline for next week’s meal plan. We are all well equipped to do this with the internet, so no excuses here. We GTS (Google That Shit) or we use the index of our favorite cookbooks. Let’s go back to the example above. I am looking up (literally) broccoli, cheddar, quinoa, pizza dough, spinach, black beans and/or pasta. The recipes linked below are recipes that were inspired by doing just this. I am adding to this each week! Let’s see what what we can come up with….
**Have nothing to start with? Use your grocer’s sales flier as your starting point!
Search one: Spinach recipes. Found braised coconut spinach with chickpeas and lemon (UM YUM) So, I look at the needed ingredients, add sun dried tomatoes to my list. I think I will serve this over rice, but have that on hand, too!
Search two: Quinoa recipes. There is an amazing recipe for Quinoa and Potatoes in my favorite cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman. I'm in this one for the win.
Search three: Broccoli recipes. Found Broccoli and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta. Perfect! This recipe hits most of ingredients on the head, so the ONLY thing I need to add to my shopping list is goat cheese.
Search 4: Black bean recipes. I make an awesome 4 bean salad that Ziggy loves. That’s going on the menu this week.
I’ll add a bell pepper and purple onion to my list. I have everything else on hand.
And, you continue on searching, creating your menu, adding to your shopping list, and adding ONLY the ingredients you need to make these dishes. Doing this will save you *money* *time* and will *minimize waste.* Bonus? It adds to an ever growing list of new amazing dishes you can go back to!!
Now before you call me crazy, know that we do not go all out on the cooking front every night. I always look at our calendar and make sure to plan not-so-crazy meals on nights we are going to be home late or have a lot going on. I find that there is almost one weekend night each week that we are attending a cookout, meeting with friends or family, or are going to be out and about, so there is one less meal to plan for. Breakfast is a go-to dinner option for us during the week. So are tortilla pizzas with a side veggie or salad.
I often make a grain salad or big pot of soup on Sundays for lunches and/or dinner options. We also do nights every so often we call “fend,” where Chris and I “fend” for ourselves and Ziggy eats leftovers or frozen spinach nuggets.
Life is crazy busy for all of us. By taking the time to MAXIMIZE what you already have at home, and taking 30-60 minutes each week to plan and create a shopping list, you will make the best out of the time and money you have when you are in the midst of the madness. Promise!
Want help getting started? Comment below or shoot me an email! I would love to help!