Health & Food

How I Meal Plan, and A Must-Read Book for Foodies!

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The average U.S. family of four spends from $500 to $2,000 a year on food they never eat, according to researchers’ estimates (Source)

I think this stat has a lot to do with how often our eyes are bigger than our stomachs……

One of my missions in life is to waste as little food as humanly possible. The only time I really waste food and don’t feel bad about it is when someone gives me a large plate of cookies or half of a leftover carrot cake (this happened last week…) and I feel that it’s best to waste it in the trashcan vs. wasting it in my stomach.

When I was growing up my mom did a great job of training me on how to not waste food, and to take advantage of all the resources that were available to me before going out and buying more. Of course I hated it when I was young. We’d have conversations like this;

Me: “Mom, I want pizza!”

Mom: “Gina, we have a pizza dough mix in the cabinet, plus some great toppings in the fridge, let’s make a pizza!”

Me: “Awww, mom! It’s not the same as Pizza Hut”
(Note: Pizza Hut used to be my favorite. Not anymore. Blah)

Mom: ” We can order a pizza next time, but for now let’s eat what we have. We can try really hard to make it taste the same”

Today, I really appreciate these lessons that I learned as a child. Looking back, the homemade pizzas and the homemade mac and cheeses really weren’t as bad as I made them out to be. Thanks mom

Here are some of the strategies I use for not wasting food and for meal planning. First, I have a white board on my fridge, with colorful dry-erase markers.

Categories

Make

  • This is where I list the 2-4 recipes I plan to make during the week (I’ll admit, it typically ends up being only two recipes….)
  • If the recipes are from a magazine I use magnets to post the recipes on my fridge

Use

  • This is where I list what’s currently in the fridge and needs to be used. I typically include a “use-by” date next to the food I list.
  • I look at this list whenever I open the fridge because it helps me decide what to throw together for lunches and dinners (on days that I’m not using a planned recipe).

Freezer

  • This is where I list what’s in our freezer that can be incorporated into a meal. I hate it when good proteins get lost in the freezer, only to be completely ruined because I forgot about them.
  • I always list whether the proteins are raw or cooked. Sometimes I will cook chicken, for example, and freeze it to eat later in the week, or the next week. If it’s cooked I feel that it needs to be eaten sooner than if it’s raw.

Here is my new method for creating a grocery list. I used to use a pad of paper that I would update, constantly (and therefore waste a lot of paper because I’d end up re-writing the list several times). That got really old….and unorganized. Recently I did this to save paper and time;

The foods and beverages that I buy consistently were printed from an excel chart with a box to the right that I check off when I need the item. The blank space to the right is for the other items I need to get. Before I go to the store I write the final list on a piece of paper, then use Windex to erase the list and start fresh. I have this hanging on the side of our fridge where it’s easy to just go write something, and it’s out of view (my mom would call this “tacky” if it was within view!).

And how do I plan recipes? Pinterest, of course! I try to pin one or two new recipes each day, and each week I pick two of them to make. I used to keep a running list of recipes on my fridge, but Pinterest makes it so much easier.

QUESTION: What are your methods for staying organized in the kitchen, meal planning, and not wasting food?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a new book, so I thought I’d share my latest find with you because it’s the perfect book for foodies! I’m about halfway into this book and it’s very entertaining and incredibly interesting. It’s more of an educational book about smell and the olfactory system than anything else, but there is a great story involved as well. It’s definitely a good read.

QUESTION: What was the last great book you read?

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