Sunday, 23 January 2011

Planning Ahead...

My regular task on a Sunday is to plan our family meals for the week ahead, before I go food shopping on Monday morning.  I know that some people find this too much to be bothered with, preferring instead to make a decision every day.  Each to their own, but I would find that crippling; I am certain that we would end up eating the same meals over and over again, that supper time would becoming stultifyingly dull and that I would be gripped, nightly, by paralysing  indecision, plus you always have an answer to the whiny "what's for dinner..?" questions.  As a keen cook, I want to try out new things and, by planning ahead, I can build our week of menus to include both the comfortingly familiar and the appetisingly new... It is liberating to come home and be able to start dinner without having to make any decisions and to know that I have everything needed for a meal [a] in the house, not requiring an emergency shopping trip and [b] not still in a solid, icy lump in the freezer (because I knew last night I would want it and I took it out to defrost then).

Making a shopping list inevitably saves you money if you stick to it; it's when you meander around the shops picking up 'what looks nice' with nary an idea of how you intend to use it that you fritter your pennies away.  The excuse that "I wait to see what's on special offer" is no excuse really, lists of all the supermarket deals can be found online, via their websites.  Try somucheasier for a conveniently grouped list of all the stores' sites.  Plan your meals according to what WILL be on offer.

If this sounds preachy, I'm honestly sorry, it's not meant to, but I save so much by shopping this way that my list for the week can always include a few treats; some nice wine for the weekend, a trip to the cheese shop for a beautiful piece of cheese to go with soup and bread, or some delicious olives and chorizo from the Spanish deli; I want others to enjoy these little pleasures too.  Plan midday meals too, if there'll be people in for lunch, or just build in a few simple options to your list.  Likewise with breakfasts...

When you have children of school age, the other advantage of meal planning is that you can check what the next week's school meals will be and cater accordingly, even my children would baulk at the idea of spaghetti Bolognese for supper if they had already eaten it for lunch at school.  Our local council, in Ceredigion, provides parents with a copy of the 4-weekly rolling menu and I'm sure that can't be exclusive to that one authority.  So useful to keep track of what they're eating and plan your family meals at home accordingly.  If your school doesn't provide you with this, ask them; even if they only put the menu on their website it would help, but I would think that most schools would be only too pleased to accommodate a genuine interest in improving the family life and well-being of its pupils.  Happy planning!
Cath xx


Anonymous said...

Hi Cath

Totally agree with your comments, I do a weekly shop and have to plan ahead because of work (including nightshifts). If I didn't know what we were eating it would all go horribly wrong!. If something is in the freezer too it has to come out the night before, I am not a fan of defrosting meat in the microwave. The slow cooker is also a boon of course and I have been encouraged to use it more by your recipes on your blog. Hope your Christmas was fab?, though it seems a long way back now.

Cath said...

Thanks Helen, for your kind comment - we had a lovely family Christmas thanks. I agree with you about defrosting meat in the microwave; I must confess to being rather spooked by microwave ovens in general, though it is useful for heating up milk for hot chocolate and coffee, etc! Much love xx


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