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Friday Tip|Planning

It’s Friday again??

So we seem to be having a bit of a dry spell here in the Friday Tip corner, but I wanted to put something out there for you to chew on.  This is what I came up with.

One of the things I wanted this blog to be about was saving money or being economical about cooking.  I love food.  I love cooking and I really love eating.  But few things warm my heart as much as the smell of $0.89/lb chicken bought on sale roasting in the oven.  It’s fantastic to make your own beautiful food at home, feeding yourself and your family, being social, talking and eating, hearing about each others’ day, or maybe listening to the radio.  But it’s really fantastic to realize that your food bill has been cut by 30%.

One of the things that will help you be able to do that is planning.  Serious planning.  Planning a week’s worth of meals at once.  And making a list.

I know that’s not necessarily going to be a popular suggestion.  I can hear the protests.  The same protests that I would have made myself not too long ago.  “How do I know what I’m going to want to eat next Thursday?”  “I don’t like to plan, I like to be spontaneous.”  “Planning isn’t any fun and it takes too long.”

I beg to differ.  If you look closely at the list above, you’ll see that there is no day associated with any of the things on the menu.*  We plan what we will eat during the week but not necessarily what we will eat on a given day.  Sure there are things that have to be had on certain days, but mostly, it’s pretty flexible.  Also, this list took us about 10 minutes to make up.  And it’s fun.  We chat for a bit, decide what we’d like, talk about ideas we’ve been having about new things to make, and brainstorm about what to make in order to use up the extra stuff in the fridge (or stuff that’s driving us crazy in the cupboard).  It’s always a nice conversation – how can talking about what we’re going to eat not be?

Once you have your list of meals you’ll make, you can make a grocery list.  I can’t tell you how much time you will save in the store with a grocery list.  If you know your grocery store well, you’ll be in and out in minutes.

But what if you get to the store and see something really wonderful and on sale?  Just because you have a list doesn’t mean there isn’t any flexibility.  Last week, I went in to the store to get ingredients for chicken korma and walked out with everything I needed to make roast chicken.  I can’t resist a whole chicken on sale.  And because we are making plans every week for what we’re going to eat, I almost always know what’s in the fridge, what will stay fresh for a while longer, and what needs to be eaten right now.  So don’t worry about being locked into anything.  You’ve made a plan – that doesn’t mean it can’t be changed.

The last thing I’ll say about the virtues of planning; knowing what you’re going to make for tonight’s dinner makes it much easier to face the idea of making dinner.  We’re all busy and many of us are working long hours.  Sometimes the thought of cooking after working all day is just too much.  I’ve been there.  But I have found that the biggest hurdle of getting into the habit of cooking at home (instead of ordering a delivery pizza, which is almost always bad and inevitably ridiculously expensive) is making the decision of what to eat. “What should we have for dinner” is not a question most people are prepared to deal with at 7 p.m.  “Do you want pizza or carbonara?” is a much easier one to answer.  And once you have your answer, you are set with all your ingredients (which you’ll set out before you start cooking) and then, all that’s left to do is a bit of cooking, a little wine drinking and a dash of relishing each others’ company.

Hope that’s helpful.


*The reason why there are only four meals listed is because my husband had been planning to be out of town.  We usually plan between five and seven meals at a time.

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