We used to walk to the grocery store, get a full weeks worth of groceries and walk home, all within half an hour.
Add in a move where the grocery store is no longer literally across the street and toss in a toddler who likes to either require your full attention to entertain or wants to help load the cart, and you’re looking at an hour long excursion where you feel like you just ran a marathon.
We no longer have the convenience of stopping at the grocery store for an item we forgot. If we run out of milk on Monday, we suck it up and drink our coffee and tea black until Saturday (or Sunday, depending on when grocery shopping gets done) Toilet paper? Well, sure. That we will make a special trip to go get, but only once the child is sleeping does my husband dare to step out of the house.
Long gone are the days of spontaneous meals where I can just swing by the store on the way home. Now it requires all sorts of effort. Planning meals for the week, checking entire ingredients lists, deciding which day for which foods because we can’t risk expired meat on Thursdays BBQ chicken night and having to use Fridays dinner plan, leaving us hungry, or worse : eating out, on Friday night.
There’s been times that I’ve counted the eggs before going to the grocery store with my list in hand, only to end up having my husband eat an egg, or four, that were supposed to be for pancakes on Saturday morning. Nothing says “Happy Saturday” like eating peanut butter toast because you don’t have eggs for pancakes, there’s no milk for cereal and you forgot the jam last week but couldn’t make it to the store during the work-week.
Meal planning saves us time but it also saves us money. We no longer go to the grocery store and try to throw together meals while cruising the aisles. We know exactly what we will need to make it from that day until the next grocery shopping day. We have a list in hand, created from the weekly menu on the fridge, checked and double checked against the cupboards, fridge and freezer. No worry of buying nine meals worth of food for seven days and having something expire.
That said, we do have a decent amount of flexibility in our meal planning. I try to make sure at least one meal on the menu is something that will keep for the week after, in case one night we just can’t imagine trying to make dinner or we really don’t feel like chicken, rice and asparagus on another night.
I’m trying to plan healthier, more rounded, meals but it’s hard. I scour Pinterest and find myself looking at recipes completely drawing a blank. I surf a few recipe websites without actually seeing anything worth clicking. I’ll look at some of the fancier-cook website recipes and think to myself “That’s far too much effort for the end of a 10 hour plus 2.5 hours of commute day!” or “Crockpot takes 8 hours, it’s eleven hours between time we leave until we get home…” (Ours has a timer but we don’t quite trust it with that much of an overlap)
Chapters has these great little notepads that I’ve been using for a year or so now. It works great – I can plan out the weeks meals on Saturday night and write up a shopping list for Sunday. Any paper would work, even just a plain white or lined paper… But these make me feel sophisto-ma-cated. Like I actually have my ducks in a row (as opposed to them fleeing in every direction possible during hunting season like it really is..)
I’d love to get into couponing and learning tricks to save money on groceries each week. We try to stick to the “If it’s not on the list, don’t buy it” theory but sometimes we end up with larger than planned grocery bills when we decide to grab a few extra items/snacks/household items. Superstore is really bad since they have all the different aisles of household goodies.
Until then, I’ll stick to trying to save some time and money (and unneeded calories from pizza or Indian food take out!) by using my menu pad and the same dozen or so borderline-healthyish-dinners. I think Pinterest surfing is in order tomorrow so that I can find some new recipes to try the week after Fathers Day… I just wish there was a “What to search on Pinterest” board for when it comes to things like recipes and home decorating. Because wording of searches can totally make a difference!
Do you meal plan? Do you have any tips to share?