Side Note: this post will be the first in a series of meal planning/prep/eating posts. A Clareity summary of sorts. Stay tuned for: Food Shopping, Cabinet Staples, Cooking Lessons, and Eating posts!
I’m a planner. Since I could possibly remember, my most favorite time of year is the “Back to School Shopping” time. I always love stocking up on Sharpie pens, mechanical pencils (with lead refills and a few of those traditional pink chunky eraser blocks), a planner and a few fun notebooks. A definite type-A organized type of kid. Now, tastes have changed, and I’m not in school, but I still like to indulge in a few “school related items” every now and again. Notebooks, planners, pens, my home office is stuffed with everything for success. (bullet journal post coming soon!)
Even though I don’t have assignments to work on (unless Jamberry and Clareity count!) I don’t have much “planning.” But there’s always SOMETHING to plan. Meal planning. Most stressful but exciting 20 minutes a week. Typically throughout the week, I’ll plan ahead. I’ll plan next week’s worth of lunches and dinners with what we currently have in the kitchen, what we need from the grocery store, what I need to prep (like boiling eggs, chopping fruits/veggies, etc.) Always be prepared, but…typically, when I finally sit down on Saturday to plan, we don’t have much left in the house.
When we feel as though we are Old Mother Hubbard (insert “husband” and “chips and guac” for “dog” and “bone”), Mr. Clareity hints that we need to get some “provisions.” Typically that means just some snacks and junk food til we finally get around to doing a “big food shop.” I’m not a fan of running out for “provisions” since half the crap we buy we don’t eat. I cannot stand food shopping (everyone always seems to be magically needing the same items as me at the same exact time I reach for them…) so the less visits the better.
Did I mention I hate grocery shopping?
Let’s begin the process. Take stock…What’s in the pantry? A can of tomato soup, one can of tomato paste, chickpeas, black beans, box of pasta, okay…. A can of tuna, empty box of cheese-its, cheerios, bit of tortilla chips. What can we make with that? Any rice? Nope- we don’t have rice! Okay, that’s the basis for one meal. Pasta sauce? Looks like a pasta dish this week. Soup? What kind? Crockpot ingredients? Crackers? Smash up -makeshift breadcrumbs. A can of chickpeas? Looks like I’ll roast those with some cayenne pepper. Try old bay. What about the freezer? Oops…
Scene is set. Now I figure out what the heck we are going to eat. Well…any meal we had last week? Not this week. At this point in my meal planning career, I safely can say we have about 50 go to meals that are tried and true. (Mr. Clareity is a very picky eater). But it also depends on what we have going on during the week. Is anyone staying late for work? Taking the first or second train? Do we have an outing? What’s going on this week? A Jamberry Party? A lot of factors to consider.
Meal planning is a lot more work at first than you may think…
So now the framework. Looks like we are having a pasta dish with chickpeas, a meat with beans/rice (tipical for Latin American -we fell in love with Tipical cuisine in Costa Rica), something fried in the crackers (maybe a fish or a chicken), snack on some roasted chickpeas, make tuna for lunch, and well, let’s start from there. Three meals down, 3 to go (we end up cheating and ordering a pizza or eating out one night a week). Let’s go back into the planner for the last 2 weeks of recipes. Goodness if we repeat a meal.
Tuesday? Always tacos (or nachos). Done. Okay, there’s 4. 2 more to go…search online for some fun trendy recipe. Or revisit what we watched Saturday/Sunday mornings on the Food Network. Ree Drummond always has something good. What did I save from Tasty Facebook this week? Anything intriguing? Then check with Mr. Clareity. Will he want to try X dish? Sure? Let’s try it. No? Ugh, Back to basics. Thankfully, he’s been okay with trying new things, and I’ve been excited to experiment. Plug them in. We should be ready to go! Make the list of ingredients to shop.
Now onto my least favorite aspect of meal planning…
I cannot stand food shopping. May be my least favorite activity/chore. However, if it doesn’t get done, will we eat? (I have a great satire on that here). Hopefully my meal planning process seems somewhat cohesive and helpful for those in the process of starting to meal plan/prep!
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