A lot of people advocate planning weekly meals in order to better manage their budget and food consumption. In the past, I pretty much bought on the fly, grabbing what looked tasty from them shelves, and thinking to myself, "I could use that thing to make this other thing," and convincing myself that I truly would.
And I didn't. And it led to a lot of spoilage and waste.
I don't strictly plan out my weekly or monthly meals, but I do now have a better handle on what I do in the kitchen. (The fact that I'm getting better at not putting off washing the dishes helps with that.) But I do plan out some meals in advance, and I've found it helps me a lot with grocery shopping.
I've also found that planning meals in advance opens up more meal ideas for me almost immediately.
Take the turkeys I've been using over the past while. I made turkey porridge out of one (why is it that so many recipes I try turn into something else but still end up being good anyway?), and got the bones and skin from the turkey that my mother had over Christmas. Because she couldn't fit all the leftover meat in her fridge, she gave a lot of it to me.
So from those bones I can make another soup stock, and can fill it with some of the meat. Just as I'd do if I bought the turkey myself from a store because I'd planned to make a soup.
But given that I can't use all the meat in the soup, what can I do with the rest of it? (Besides turkey sandwiches, I mean.) I came up with the idea of making turkey sausage, forming it into patties, and then freezing it for later consumption. With some bread or bagel or something like that, I might not only have half a week's worth of soup, but also a week's worth of breakfast!
In my next grocery order, I need to pick up sushi rice, flour, ground pork, cabbage, and spring onions so that I can make gyoza (also called potstickers), and likely some leftover pork will be used to make nikuman (steamed pork buns) too. Rachel and I are big on Japanese food; can you tell?
I'll get eggs and milk and cheese, and use some leftover ham to make a quiche. (The ham will come from whatever's left after I make the ham and potato soup later in the week.) Leftover eggs gets hardboiled for snacks, and possibly turned into Scotch eggs if I'm feeling adventurous.
I might get a bag of apples to turn into apple pie or apple turnovers, too, and I've also been dying to try baked apples, so I'll likely pick up a small container of cream.
So let's take a tally of that, shall we?
Eggs, milk, cheese, flour, ground pork, cabbage, spring onions, sushi rice, and apples. Not exactly a budget-breaking grocery order! And combined with a few things we already have in the apartment, those little top-up items can pretty much provide meals for at least another week here.
The best thing about planning my meals in advance, even if I don't stick to a rigid schedule, it that it allows me to think of what I can turn the leftovers into. It saves me money, allows me to eat better, and gives me some creative license in the kitchen, something I'm coming to enjoy more and more.
And now if you'll all excuse me, I hear a cup of tea calling my name.