Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Planning meals and cooking for the week

As you may know, I've started working full time again, which leaves me a lot less times for dinner parties and spending a lot of time cooking during the week.

If we want to eat economically and eat food that we cook ourselves, I can't be "spur of the moment" anymore. I need to plan ahead and think about what we want to cook and what we want to eat.

It's not all about just the cooking though, it's also about what our plans are for the week and whether or not we will be around.

For example, last week, we spent most of the week at home in the evenings. Often The Boy would have business related dinners at least one night a week, but last week, he didn't, so we had to plan a couple more meals at home.

What we do now is on a Sunday, we think about what we want to cook and eat at home and what days we will be doing that. Then we work out a shopping list and shop according to that. The benefit of that is that we get exactly what we need and our ingredients are always fresh.

So, for the last week, I decided that Sunday dinner would be beef stroganoff. Beef stroganoff is a larger meal since there is always leftovers (we also think about what leftovers are available to eat during the week too).

With that in mind, this is what the menu for the week ended up looking like:

  • Sunday - beef stroganoff
  • Monday - nothing since we were out for bible study
  • Tuesday - beef stroganoff leftovers
  • Wednesday - prawn and gorgonzola risotto with a side salad (we were supposed to have a friend over to dinner but he had to cancel at the last minute, I cooked the risotto anyway)
  • Thursday - the risotto leftovers since it had prawns it would not keep more than a day or two
  • Friday - beef nachos
  • Saturday - chicken parcels (I buy those from my butcher and just pop them into the oven to cook when I want to eat them) with a side salad

I'm not so structured that I write it all out but we do discuss it and I have a list in my head.

This week is a short week for us and not as much eating at home since The Boy has a business dinner out and we're heading up to The House on Thursday night, so our menu for the week is much simpler:

  • Sunday - lasagne
  • Monday - nothing since we have bible study
  • Tuesday - nothing since The Boy is out for a business dinner. I know I still need to eat but I'll just be lazy and grab something simple out of the fridge or out of a tin (I don't mind doing that occasionally)
  • Wednesday - we will probably have whatever is left of the lasagne
  • Thursday - we head up to The House right after work so we will stop on the way, probably at our favorite Thai restaurant for a quick meal
  • Friday and Saturday - we will play it by ear because we will be at The House which will probably mean BBQ hot dogs one night cos The Boy loves it and possibly a night out at one of the restaurants we like.I think The Boy mentioned catching up with some friends for dinner one night in passing so that might be what we're doing one of the nights that we are up there.

And then, of course, it's Sunday again and we start the planning process all over again.

I guess the point that I'm trying to make here is that it's a lot easier to cook during the week when you're working full time if you plan your meals for the week in advance. You also don't need to plan to cook every night because there will be leftovers some nights and other nights there might be something on which means you won't be home to eat. Think the week through, and you will find that like me, cooking during the week will become easier.

So far, in all the weeks that I've started this process, I have found that the most I've had to cook during the week has been 3 times and that's on the high side. Usually it's only once or twice during the week that I'm cooking. That's doable when you're working full time and you get home late and tired.

Do bear in mind though, that if you tend to work a little later like I do (I usually don't leave work till about 6:30pm) dinner might be a little late if you plan on cooking. We usually eat quite late. We would sit down to eat dinner usually anywhere between 8pm and 8:30pm. I don't spend the whole time that I'm home cooking till 8pm. I just start cooking a little later, often between 7pm and 7:30pm after a few errands and unwinding a little bit.

If you've read this far, I hope this helps you in some small way to plan your meals and plan your cooking week.

Happy cooking!!!

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