I have many loves starting with my family, writing, wine (do I mention wine too much?), and cooking. I LOVE to cook. Sometimes with wine. I wouldn’t call myself a culinary artist, but I can follow a recipe like a boss. I’ve even been known to create one or two along the way. I made jerk chicken and bacon nachos for dinner last night! Winning. When Ty and I first met, his palette allowed for meat (read: steak) and potatoes, Kraft Dinner and the odd vegetable. He wouldn’t even eat his now favourite broccoli! You think that’s bad, he still doesn’t like dill pickles. I swear, that was nearly a deal breaker.
We’ve come a long way since we began making meals together at 19, so we have had time to figure out what works and what doesn’t. We’ve also had some time to perfect the meals we love and the way we shop for those meals. For years we bought what we thought we needed (or what we were craving at the time) and planned meals on the fly and then before each grocery shop we’d go through the fridge and throw out everything that had gone bad because we didn’t get around to eating it. Wasting money we didn’t have on food we didn’t need was an awful way to manage. In fact, it wasn’t managing at all. Enter the Two Week Menu. I now plan meals for the two-week period between pay cheques and then write the grocery list to include only the items we need to make the food we have planned.
It means at the end of the two weeks the fridge and freezer are pretty well empty, so you have to be willing to shop on a schedule. You should have seen the look on my mother-in-law’s face when I said I needed to go grocery shopping because all we had at home was a loaf of bread and six chicken drumsticks. She didn’t need to panic. There was also mustard and possibly a carrot.
I’ve attached a sample for you to try. The first column is for the date, the second is for the meal (or I note if we will not be home for dinner) and the last column is Lila’s. I fill it in when I know she won’t eat what we’re having, or if she has to eat earlier than we do for whatever reason. And the items on the bottom of the page make up the grocery list; written in order of the layout of the grocery store. Obvs.
Not only do we have a plan for dinner each night, but by planning ahead I am able to schedule more complicated meals for weekends and quick meals for nights we have other commitments like swimming lessons, or gym classes. It also prevents us from having chicken three times in a row, or pasta too many times in a week. If we’re having a Mexican dish on Monday, I won’t plan another one until the following week.
It sounds like OCD, but it has saved us a pile of money and even more time. It’s not set in stone, we can move meals around as we see fit and if plans change and we skip a meal, I just add it to next week’s menu. Give it a whirl! You can try planning one week at a time, if that suits your needs better. But I promise you’ll waste less food, save more money, you’ll have more time to spend with your family rather than staring blankly inside the freezer hoping for inspiration and I promise you will never, ever think about prying your eyeballs out with a dinner fork after having this conversation:
“What do you feel like for dinner?”
“I don’t know. What do you feel like?”
That’s worth its weight in groceries. Now read on for my favourite haunts on the interwebs for recipes and meal ideas.
Not only is the author of this blog, Kristin, completely adorable, she also creates the most delicious recipes. She documents the steps with colourful, explicit photos and every recipe I’ve made has been suuuuuh good. She also writes in a similar style to mine and she has a family of three as well. I tagged her in a post on Instagram once after making her Thai Peanut Chicken Quinoa Bowl because I couldn’t contain my fan geekiness any longer. Maybe she saw it, maybe she was afraid. Maybe I should get over it…
Three of my absolute favourite recipes:
Most Unbelievable Recipe of All Time, No Really
THIS. IS. NOT. EVEN. RIGHT. I mean, it is. It’s all kinds of right, but it’s so good it doesn’t make sense. How many times have you wished that whatever decadent, creamy, cheesy, bacony dish you’re about to enjoy could just be zero calories? That’s just me? Riiight. This is a rich, delicious Alfredo-esque sauce with only 2 tbsp of butter, no cream and no flour. Heck, you don’t even need to add cheese to it….I do, of course, just a spoonful or two of parmesan, but it’s just as good without.
Let’s compare. Pinch of Yum Creamy Cauliflower Sauce = 49 calories per half cup. Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce = 325 calories for the same. It’s guilt free and you can afford to add bacon and chicken and peppers and broccoli and…what were we talking about?
Ah yes, THIS!
Healthy Eating on Fleek
I stumbled across skinnytaste while I was on Weight Watchers before Lila was born and I have been making recipes from it ever since. Some of my favourite recipes to make and share can be found here. Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower. Need I go on? Again with the Cauliflower!
Gina calculates the Weight Watchers points for all of her recipes. This is an absolute godsend if you’re on WW. If you’re not though, you’ll still find all the nutritional information you need including calories, protein and serving size on each recipe.
A sneak peak, but be prepared to fall down the proverbial rabbit hole here:
I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have about how this process really works. And if you do try it, let me know how it goes. Happy Meal Planning!