And I ain’t no restaurant.
One of those things that experts will tell you when you want to avoid overspending on food is to create a menu and shop accordingly. And being married 10 years now, with ever-growing and ever-eating children, I’ve tried it to use a weekly menu. And I’ll stick with it for a while… until incidents happen (see what I did there?). We get invited to someone else’s house; a bonus from the Hubs’ job takes us out somewhere special; I forget to take the necessary items out of the freezer; something comes up so that we only have 30 minutes to make dinner instead of the 55 minutes my recipe calls for; I accidentally plan something that I thought I had all the ingredients for but I actually don’t. It’s frustrating.
There’s also the fact that a menu kind of makes you think that you have to make something entirely new and different every night. This was a huge problem when I ended up shelling out a lot of money for a week’s worth of meats and veggies, and ended up with a ton of leftovers that no one really wanted. I took a page out of my dad’s playbook (he used to run office cafeterias) and “repurposed” food whenever I could. But the kids weren’t really buying into it, and frankly neither was I.
Then I stumbled on a solution. Like a mediocre wardrobe, I had pieces available to me but nothing that really “went together.” So I looked carefully and wrote down what I could make with it: the chicken carcass with breast meat still attached can be soup; the frozen tilapia can be thawed, breaded and fried; ground turkey and leftover bacon (I know– that surprises me when it happens, too) can be a decent meatloaf. I left it on the fridge and checked off meals as I made them. Then there are items that don’t require much work from me that can end up being dinner anyway (i.e., boxed Mac & Cheese). The occasional dinner out tops it all off.
A fan of clever advertisements, I nicknamed this list, “The Scroll of Infinite Deliciousness” like the Campbell’s Soup ad. The kids like it, because they often get to pick the meal. And I just like not being “locked in” to a particular menu. Isn’t that what we like about menus when we go out to eat– varied possibilities?
(Bar-be-que pork in the Crock Pot. I could make this every week.)