Menu Planning and Life’s Unexpected Twists

Last week, I dutifully menu planned before grocery shopping. I was extra conscientious about including a new recipe to try and planning enough home cooked meals so that I wouldn’t have to rely on convenience foods at all. I’ve really been trying to get out of the habit of eating even the healthiest of processed food in an effort to save money and lose weight. Usually I menu plan about three quarters of my actual meals, because I know that sometimes I won’t be in the mood to cook much or I won’t have time to cook what I had planned. Also, I’ve been trying to add variety to my meals in the hopes that if I’m not bored with the taste of my same old food, then I won’t turn to processed, convenience foods because they won’t taste as good as home cooked. While grocery shopping, I luckily found everything I needed in good enough shape to buy. I hate it when I plan on using peppers for example, but find them too old to buy at the store. The next day, I cut up all the vegetables, so they would be ready to cook and I would be less likely to talk myself out of cooking. So far, I’m doing everything right and it’s working out well. Then, a friend calls and invites me out to lunch. Another day, my mother changes the menu for the family dinner (I usually try to bring something that is similar for me to eat). The next day, the kitchen is not available for me to cook for a long time (I’m currently sharing a kitchen, which is always a challenge for me) and I have to make do with a quick meal instead of the more elaborate one I had planned. Does this ever happen to you? I’m not sure what the answer is. Life happens and there is no way to anticipate everything that could interfere with your plans for lunch or dinner. In fact, I don’t ever want to get so rigid that I can’t enjoy an unexpected lunch out with a friend. Some meals are easy to push back for a day or two, so postponing them is no big deal. For other meals, however, an ingredient or two has spoiled in the refrigerator, because I haven’t used it in time. Then, I have the challenge of using the ingredients I have left in some other dish. I think the main lesson I’m learning is to not give up on menu planning even when it doesn’t work out. As I continue to practice planning my meals, trying new recipes, using less processed foods, it will become second nature to me and I’ll need to actually write it out less and less. Eventually, I hope to be able to do what a former roommate could do-look in the refrigerator and cupboards and come up with a fabulous meal off the top of her head.

M

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