Tuesday, November 25, 2014

How Meal Planning Saved My Bacon

It has been little while since you have been to the supermarket and all of the obvious things are gone, or too low to make a meal on their own. Now you find yourself opening your fridge and every cupboard in the kitchen over and over again trying to come up with what to cook.

You may have resorted to making sandwiches or even buying takeaway because by the time you did think of something you were too hungry to go through the process.

I have been there countless times since I landed in the role of having to feed myself everyday. It made me reminisce about my younger years when food was provided for me without me having any input. I used to grumble when the meal wasn't exactly what I wanted; how misguided I was then, I had no idea how good I had it!

Now I find myself periodically throwing away food that had spoiled, especially fresh vegetables because I never got around to cooking them in a timely manner. Sometimes I just forgot that something was in the fridge, especially if it was hidden behind another item.

I used to have a vague idea of what I was planning to cook floating around in my brain, but when I was stressed or tired, I couldn't recalling this grand plan.

This bore itself out at the supermarket too, and because my grocery list did not go hand in hand with a concrete cooking plan, I would end up buying convenience foods or too much or too little of an ingredient.

I was wasting money three ways:  I was throwing away food, purchasing extra meals and making unplanned trips back to the grocery store to pick up missing ingredients.

I knew I needed to make a change and when I stumbled across the concept of meal planning I instantly leapt into action. No longer was I going to operate with just a vague plan in my head, I would have a written plan covering at least a week's worth of meals.

I started out using Plan To Eat but since then I have switched to doing it the old fashion way with pen and paper. I am still in awe of how much the simple act of meal planning has changed my relationship with grocery shopping and with food in general.

Why didn't anyone tell me about this before?

Meal planning enables me to shop smarter and not to worry about what to cook. For me, I don't mind eating the same meals often, so I simply shuffle the menu but keep the basic components of the meals the same.

When I plan to try something new, I make sure that I had planned a big meal the day before with ample leftovers just in case it didn't go so well and I also try to factor in what shift I will be working when I make my plan, so that I have enough time on the day in question to pull the meal together.

If you have never tried meal planning, give it a go. There are plenty of free pdf templates available for download that you can print out and fill in, or you can use my method and make a list in a notebook. Even if it seems a bit hard to come up with meals at first, stick with it because it becomes very easy as you go along.

Meal planning may just save your bacon as well. 

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