Before I headed off to the grocery store on Saturday, I did something I don’t normally do … I planned out our dinners for the week and made a list of whatever we were out of for those meals. Did you catch that? Yep, I meal-planned for the week.
I’ve toyed with meal planning in the past, but it just didn’t stick then. Maybe I wasn’t ready for that level of organization, but I certainly had a treasure trove of excuses … I wasn’t sure what I would want on Friday on the previous Saturday. It takes too much time. It makes grocery shopping harder. Oh yea, I can be the queen of excuses.
But the thing that I found this time was that it was really easy to plan meals, focusing on the foods that I know I have and building from there.
At the grocery store, my bill was about 75 percent of last week’s (not even counting the extra trip or two I made) — and that is with having to purchase dog food for the month, which is not a small expense.
Now we are two days into the meal plan and I have stuck with it so far. What I love is that meal planning takes the mystery out of what’s for dinner. There is no last-minute scurrying to figure out what I can pull together … it’s just there and planned. How easy is that?
Now, switching gears just a bit – If you watch Oprah, then hopefully you caught her episode this week where Cat Cora, Curtis Stone and Tyler Florence helped families cut their grocery bills. One of the techniques that Cat Cora emphasized was planning meals and making a list of what you need. She also focused on cooking from scratch and utilizing leftovers in other meals. That is something I definitely do at home and it was gratifying and even eye-opening to see how much she helped one Florida family save. That family was using frozen food and the microwave to craft nearly all of their meals.
Full stop there. Before I was married, I ate frozen food … a lot. It was easy, fast and took like no effort. Except, it also delivered little taste and did nothing to challenge me or my tastebuds. So, I have been where that family was. It’s not a pretty place. So, it was nice to hear that Cat Cora was able to help them.
For Curtis’s part, he tackled a family that ate take out nightly. Oh yea, I have been there too … back in college. I shudder to think how much money I wasted on take out (especially easy things like wraps, egg salad and sesame noodles). Seriously. For that family, the cost of cooking what they ate was a little more than 10 percent of what they had been saving. Ten percent.
Obviously, not everyone can have a famous professional chef show up on their doorstep and help them figure out how to cook. But chances are you do know someone who does know a thing or two about getting around the kitchen. If you need help with your taxes or an oil change, you would ask, right? Well, why not your cooking?
I don’t want to leave Tyler out … and his family had a unique scenario – the family he helped just didn’t like the mom’s cooking. She needed some help learning how to cook good food that her family would devour. He showed how to cook ahead easily and create several delish meals at once. It worked well for the time-pressed family.
Oprah has all of the recipes from the celeb chefs up on her website.