What’s For Dinner Tonight?

26 Apr

Whether planning meals and grocery shopping is something you enjoy or dread, it is a necessity. We all have to eat, right? All of us have busy lives: obligations, work, children, extended family, emergencies, food boxes to deliver…at the end of the day, when we are beat, hungry, and maybe even a little irritable, dinner is the last thing on our minds until it is time to eat, and then it can be so tempting to pick up the phone and order take-out. While take-out is delicious, this habit can be a drain on our pocket-books and unkind to our waist line.

If done right, meal planning will save you money, it will save you time, it will reduce the amount of food you discard or compost. We think saving money, time, and food is a good thing.

We recommend planning your meals out for a week or longer, then shop for everything you need in one trip. If you are a Farm Table member, you can easily plan your weekly dinner menu around what comes in your box, made even easier by the wonderful recipes that accompany your food each week.

However you get your food, here are a few tips to help make your food life a tad easier:

  1. Grab your pencil and paper. There is a lot of editing that goes into meal planning.
  2. Take note of what you already have in stock: a few extra eggs leftover from last week’s delivery or grocery shopping trip; Lettuce that maybe has one more day before it wilts into a shriveled, lifeless, lump; A couple pork-chops in the freezer; A cup of orzo in the pantry. All of these things could be incorporated into your weekly food plans to get them used up in the next week.
  3. Determine what is coming in your Farm Table food box for the week.  Take note of some of the handy recipe suggestions that are sent along in your weekly email notification, or in the newsletter. Mushroom tomato basil sauce over linguine? Yes, please. Fresh Salmon in Sorrel sauce? I’ve never tried that before. Sounds good.
  4. What other recipes have you been wanting to try? What are some staple meals in your home that you could use your produce as ingredients toward?
  5. Look at your calendar and determine what is going on in your life that week. Partner out of town? Soccer practice? Cooking dinner for a friend who just brought a new baby home (if you aren’t, then you should)? Ask all of these questions as you begin to outline your meal plan for the week, and subsequently, your grocery list.
  6. Now is time to jot down what you need to pick up at the grocery store, also thinking ahead to breakfast, and lunch.
  7. Determine the most ideal day to hit the grocery store or farmer’s market for items to supplement your weekly Farm Table Box.
  8. Once you have made decisions about what you plan to eat that week, you can jot it down on our handy-dandy meal planning template or make one for yourself that meets your needs and hang it on the fridge.  If you have to soak beans the night before, or do any prep work, write that down on your meal plan so you don’t forget.

Here are some other budget-saving, and time-saving tips to help you in your meal planning efforts:

  • Keep your pantry full of staples, and cook from scratch. While cooking from scratch can be extra work, it is cheaper and you know what is in your food.
  • Buy items in bulk. This will lower your trips to the grocery store, and if an item you use is on sale, you can stock up and it will save you money in the long run.
  • Cook in bulk, and freeze your food. You can also prep and cook some food items ahead for the week, which will save you time on busy days.
  • Curb the take-out/eat-out trap by keeping basic “go-to” meal staples on hand. This could be extra cans of salmon for salmon cakes, pasta and sauce for spaghetti, whatever the go-to meals are in your home. Buy extra and save money and time later.
  • If you are Mr. or Mrs. Fancy-pants, you can actually use one of these grocery list applications like SplashShopper, or ShopShop. We like this free iPhone or Android application from Kroger. Who knew grocery shopping could be so technologically advanced? See if your grocery store offers something similar.
  • Don’t forget to add variety to your meals.
  • Break out the beloved crock-pot from time to time.

Reducing waste and planning ahead is good for you, and for the food you eat. In our last post, we linked you to useful information to help you keep your produce fresher, longer. We also love what Mary Andrews and Tim Vidra are doing with their Farm Table Box to keep their produce fresh at 17 Apart, as well as Tim’s delicious Strawberry Bruschetta that he shared on his blog, E.A.T. Maybe you can add it to your meal plan this week.

Speaking of which, what is on your meal plan this week? What are the go-to meals in your home?

9 Responses to “What’s For Dinner Tonight?”

  1. Ann Kneeland April 27, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    Great article. Inspiring, but maybe you could just send me YOUR weekly menu. It all looks so delicious! Thanks for the encouragement!

    • The Farm Table May 15, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

      Thank you, Ann! We will be posting meal plans periodically, so you may just get your wish!

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