Monday, December 10, 2012

Happiness Project: Meal Planning

For the past few years the question of "what should we have for dinner" has reduced me to an anxious, frustrated mess - and I'm being completely serious. When I lived on my own I didn't consider it too much: I would have beans & toast night after night or I would occasionally eat cookies for supper. I wasn't bothered by the lack of diversity - or nutritional value - in my meals, just whatever was easiest. Nowadays it's a real issue. My husband won't buy in to the idea of popcorn for supper, he's a good cook and prefers well-balanced meals, but, like me, is often uninspired. This has led to the dreaded question: 'what should we have for supper?' and the even more infuriating response, 'I dunno, whatever you want'. This would literally make me start to sweat.

Sometimes we would come up with an idea right away and I would run off to the store to grab what we needed then Kevin would cook it. Problem was I was going to the grocery store nearly everyday after work, which is very time consuming. We also ended up throwing out a lot of produce as we never used as much as I bought, which is very expensive and makes me feel guilty. The solution may seem obvious to you but I was a little slower to catch it: plan a week's worth of meals in advance and do ONE big grocery shop.

I was very pleased that this worked in to my Happiness Project goal of being more organized. Every weekend, Kevin & I sit down with our favourite cookbooks and plan what we're making for supper for the next seven days. We then comb our fridge & pantry for ingredients and fill in the gaps on our grocery list. I've started shopping for groceries at some of the Big Box stores and have found that I'm saving anywhere from $30-50 a week - that's HUGE! We're also more efficient at using the food we buy since we can see the big picture on paper.

We've been doing this for over a month now and I can report that it makes me SO HAPPY! It's unreal how something seemingly so simple can have such an impact. The saving money part is awesome too.

We've noticed a trend in the types of meals we choose and have devised a sort of formula, which has made the process even easier. It's kind of cheesy but I'm not too proud to share it with you: each night has a "theme" based on the main ingredient. There is a pasta night, a Mexican night, something with rice, a soup/stew/chili, a casserole, a sandwich-type meal (pitas & burgers fall under this category), and a flex-day. Flex days are sometimes left-overs or sometimes meals out (or ordered-in). This is just a guideline that helps us get started, we've often strayed from the formula, but it really aids in choosing a variety of meals.

I actually look forward to our meal planning and grocery shopping now. It's fun to be creative and we're much more relaxed when we're not hungry and tired. This is a resolution I don't think I'll have trouble keeping.

1 comment:

  1. I love it! Dylan and I did this when the kids were babies, and for some unknown reason, we fell off the bandwagon... And so, spaghetti three times per week has become the norm. We keep talking about doing the meal planning again, maybe this will inspire us!