It's the new year which means it's time for some resolutions. Besides my yearly resolution to floss more, I tried to think of what I could do to make my life better this year, and I think I found it--weekly menu planning!
I've had Jennifer Ford Berry's book Organize Now! for about a year. It's a great book, but I haven't made much progress beyond the first two chapters. The first two chapters really ask a lot because they focus on organizing your mind and then your schedule. For someone like me who has trouble saying no and somehow thinks that I work better when I have too much to do, those are hard tasks for me. Basically, the book says I need to start planning better so I don't feel so harried all the time. Since food is such an important part of my life, I think weekly menu planning will not only help me plan my time better but will help me with my other following resolutions:
1. Eat healthier. I take night classes twice a week, and without forethought, I end up eating something ridiculously fattening from the hospital cafeteria (ironic, yes?) and my husband eats take out burritos. Even if I have time to cook, I often don't have what I need in my pantry. Hopefully if I plan ahead, I'll be able to buy what I need and do some cooking the night before my class so I'll have something healthy and homemade to keep my brain awake during class.
2. Eat more vegetables, less meat. I don't think I can ever give up meat, but I've read Michael Pollan and Mark Bittman and would like to decrease the amount of meat I eat for my and the environment. However, trying to make a balanced vegetarian meal without tons of eggs and cheese is a challenge for me. I've been collecting recipes with beans and different types of grains (quinoa, farro) to try in the new year, and with some planning, I'll be able to stock the pantry with what will hopefully be new kitchen staples.
3. Spend less money. When there are too many obstacles to make dinner at home, sometimes it's just easier to get take out or go out to eat. However, my class schedule has definitely increased the number of times we eat out a week. Cooking more at home also means there will hopefully be leftovers to bring in for lunch the next day--even more cost savings! Also, if I only go grocery shopping once a week, I'll save money on gas.
So far, I did some research, and I've set up a spreadsheet that has room for main dishes and vegetables for each day of the week. I did the grocery shopping already for this week and am mostly following the plan. It's been a great way to incorporate my love for trying new dishes into the week because I can grab the ingredients at the store ahead of time rather than furiously searching through epicurious every night for a well-reviewed recipe that includes ingredients I have on hand.
Next post: I'll blog about our New Year's Eve meal. I tried out a cooking technique I've been dying to try, and the results were awesome!