Phew, is it really already Day 3 of Zero Waste Week? I’m finding that I’m focussing much more than usual on what I’m feeding the family and, of course, what I’m managing to use up from my cupboards and fridge. I’m slowly being reminded that reducing food waste is a lifestyle change, rather than a burst of effort then reverting to old habits. I’m still somewhat resisting the effort involved, but I’m getting the hint already that time spent organising has both time and monetary rewards…
The challenge I set myself yesterday was to come up with a meal plan for the week. As I documented, I’m not keen on meal planning – I find it soooo booooring.
Was I missing something though? I took to the internet to see if I could pick up some tips and here’s some that I especially liked:
Don’t keep the fridge full to bursting, but do have lots of basic ingredients in the cupboards
This one really appeals to me (especially after chucking out lots of wasted mush from the fridge on Monday). My newly cleared out fridge is much easier to navigate, and there’s less chance of me missing the items I actually want to use. I also have food cupboards that are bursting at the seams, and crying out to be organised – perhaps they are full of those magical basic ingredients?
Chose a shopping day and make a list
Dashing to the shops frequently is a major bugbear of mine. During the school holidays we were there a lot which was okay as the kids have Heelys. They were always up for a bit of zooming down the aisles, but now it’s just me on my non-wheeled shoes and, frankly, I have better things to be doing. If I could get away with three trips a week, I’d be happy. If I plan my meals, I can maybe just plan my shopping trips.
Ask the family what they like
Genius! This was something I did at the start of the year with my own family when I was trying to work out how many family meals I had in my repertoire. The only problem is, I added what I like and what my other half likes to that list, and eight months later, I can’t remember who likes what any more.
My ‘back of a fag packet’ list from the start of 2016
To confuse matters further, I’m noticing the kids’ tastes are changing. Back to the drawing board…
Keep a meal journal and remind yourself of past dishes
This is another great idea that I have also tried. I religiously filled in a little diary for ages at the start of the year which helped me make sure I was giving the family a good variety of dishes. I also found it really useful for jogging my memory when I was uninspired. I’ll dig it out.
Use an app
Ooohhh! Modern! I am a dinosaur when it comes to technology. Shamefully, I let my IT whizz of a partner deal with all the gadgety things in our home, I enjoy the tools he provides me with, then cry pathetically for help when my internet connection fails. I won’t be sorting that out any time soon I fear, but perhaps he might download me an app?
With all of these pearls of wisdom to hand, I set to work on a meal plan for dinners for yesterday and the following seven days:
Day 1 : vegetarian haggis, neeps and tatties
This was a request from my eldest who complained that we haven’t had it for ages because dad’s gone off it. Fair point – I make them shovel down dishes they don’t like, so dad got to grin and bear it for last night’s dinner. Plus it was quick and easy to prepare (I should’ve asked for that meal planning app before I serve up though!)
Day 2: Goulash with rice and fresh wholemeal bread
This uses up the peppers, cherry tomatoes and courgettes I discovered in the fridge. I’ve also now replaced the out of date wholemeal bread flour I found on Monday so we’re good to go. I’ll make extra portions so that there’s some to slam in the freezer.
Day 3: Lentil bolognaise with pasta
This is quick, easy and nutritious. I used to feed this to the family so often that we all went from loving it to hating it, but we’ve not had it in over two years so this dish is making a comeback!
Day 4: Baked potatoes
Everyone loves these in my family. The kids both have classes just before dinner so I’ll half bake the potatoes and leave them in the (switched off but warm) oven to finish off while we’re out. There’ll be very few dishes to wash up which is perfect because I’m off out in the evening 🙂
Day 5: Macaroni cheese
This is another dish that we avoid because my other half doesn’t like it, but he’s out on Friday so it’s back on the menu for us. Quick, easy and can be whipped up from those basic ingredients I always have in the house.
Day 6: Homemade pizza
Somehow pizza’s become a tradition at the weekend. I’ll make some dough in the breadmaker and take a frozen tomato sauce out of the freezer – I have lots of this for emergency meals. The toping can be whatever needs used up from the fridge.
Here’s one I made before
Day 7: Chickpea Stew
I found some chickpeas in the cupboard and this is another quick, nutritious meal that can be frozen. (Just don’t tell the kids there are chilli’s in it…)
I actually found planning the week’s meals surprisingly easy and was taken aback at how little the ingredients will cost me. Our shopping bills are definitely on the high side so this raises the question…what are we actually buying at the supermarket??
Today’s tasks will be to sort out half of the shelves in my big food cupboard, and of course to make tonight’s goulash. I’m off to read some of the other Zero Waste Week blogs now !