Week one: Start meal planning, FFS!
I don’t meal plan. There, I’ve said it. I don’t even make shopping lists a lot of the time. Or I do, but when I’m writing them I can’t think of what I need. Or I forget to look at it when I get to the shops. Or I look at it, and still don’t get half the things on it. Either way, I may as well not bother. Basically my modus operandi is to wander aimlessly (or hurriedly, depending on whether or not I’ve been able to offload the kids first) up and down the aisles, looking at things that I would normally pick, racking my brains to remember if we have any left of said thing, then getting or not getting accordingly.
It’s not until I get to the meat section that I start vaguely thinking about what meals I might actually create. I can sometimes stare at those trays for extended minutes at a time, willing inspiration to come. It rarely does. Instead, along come the little voices in my head.
‘So, what are you going to do with that mince? Spag bol, again? Really?’
‘Sausages, does Etienne like sausages this week?’
‘Lamb cutlets, everyone likes lamb cutlets, lamb cutlets are quick and easy… dear God, will you look at the price of those lamb cutlets!’
‘Pork fillet. I saw a great pork fillet thing on MKR the other day. Yes, but every time you’ve made pork fillet it’s dry and inedible, remember?’
Seriously, it’s a wonder I ever make it out, but when I do, I’m usually wielding mince, lamb chops (cutlets if I’m feeling wild and reckless), and chicken breast or thigh fillets (because you can always make something with them). Oh and some random attempt at switching things up – half a Chinese roasted duck, for example – which then sits in the freezer for the next six months, mocking me.
This approach always leads to several things: eating the same boring crap over and over, staring at the meat in fridge at home and still not knowing what to do with it, last minute trips to the corner shop to buy missing ingredients at exorbitant prices and saying ‘bugger it, let’s call a pizza’ a tad too often.
But meal planning. It always seems so fiddly, so time-consuming, so requiring of forethought. Well, I’m going to give it a try – for the reasons listed in the above paragraph. I’ve hit up Kidspot for their Basic Family Meal Plan, encouraged by the word ‘basic’. Hmm, I’ll have to adapt it a bit as my family are a bunch of fusspots who won’t even eat standard kiddie goodness like pancakes. Oh good, there’s bolognese there, I can do that. Minestrone soup, yes, I can manage that. Roast lamb yes, but extra veggies for a frittata? Don’t think the fusspots will do frittata. God, there’s a lot of meals to prepare when you look at them altogether like that…
Five days later. The spag bol and the roast lamb went down pretty well. Husband vetoed my suggestion of minestrone (but he has pneumonia so I’m trying to be understanding). Didn’t really do a proper meal plan so other days were the same mish-mash as ever.
Lesson learnt: To meal plan, you have to actually meal plan, not just look at a meal plan and pick a couple of meals you like out of it and ignore all the others. Oh well, baby steps. Until next week…