Tag Archives: food planning

More Food Planning/Use

Today is the day I usually go to the farm for our week’s food. If I’d been home yesterday, I would put aside whatever remaining foodstuffs from last week I didn’t think we’d use.

I’ve started that effort today instead, but it IS being done.

I’ve also planned what I’ll get at the farm, that makes food use a bit less random!

Finally, I go right by our favorite markets on the way home, so I’ll do the weekly shopping. There’s a package of chicken thawing in the fridge for tomorrow and Sunday.

Tonight’s dinner is probably a cheese omelette and salad, or that’s the plan. This is subject to DH’s input, how much and types of cheese we have, etc. We had HM hummus, freshly baked bread, and green salad. It was too hot to cook and I’d been gone all day, no interest in cooking at all!

I culled 2 jars from the pantry as their contents will be replaced, starting today.

This is working! We’ll see if I can keep it up. DH and I have had a few discussions about the “menu plan,” and he thinks it’s a good idea and agrees with my long-term goals: getting us used to smaller, cheaper meals like we’ll have when he’s retired, spending less on restaurants/prefab food, less meat, more veggies, better use of the veggies we’ve paid for (from the farm), and less food waste.

Photo by petra cigale on Unsplash

And for me, the kicker is that this isn’t so rigid that I resent it and it takes away the creativity I normally use when cooking. The I don’t know what to make with what I’ve got randomness is the only piece of cooking I really like: taking a bunch of random ingredients and using up what needs it in a meal.

I know people who sit down and plan a year’s worth of menus at once. I couldn’t do that, any more than I could do something similar to Once a Month Cooking or Mega Cooking. I tend to put pieces aside, not meals. (For example, cooked rice and stems from greens for soup.)

The Menu Plan, Working?

I had come up with a general menu plan. Last week I managed what’s in column 3. (I skipped week 2 as I was sick again and the menu was abandoned!)

Day Plan Actual wk 1 Actual wk 3
Monday Double Veg Lentils & Yams green rice & salad
Tuesday Soup/Stew/Salad Garlic Soup avocado toast, roasted red pepper soup, braised greens**
Wednesday 2nd Veg Lentils & Yams green rice, sauteed mushrooms, salad, fruit
Thursday Egg Asparagus & herb omelette HM hummus, fresh bread, salad
Friday Double Meat BBQ Beef blackberry cobbler (a.m.) and restaurant food (dinner)
Saturday Sandwich BBQ Beef Sandwich None, did flea market, followed by ice cream, then home
Sunday 2nd Meat Lentils & Yams*, salad lemon chicken, salad, corn

*The 3rd portion of lentils & yams was frozen Weds. We finished the beef Saturday, so we ate the last portion of lentils & yams from the freezer.

** The roasted red peppers were a container from the freezer, frozen last September!


I can say that menu planning this much it hit a few of my goals:

  • less waste
  • less meat
  • cheaper meals
  • set aside excess for “instant meals” so we don’t buy frozen food

But this is Memorial Day weekend, which means my big freezer needs to be EMPTY next week. Ack!

pointing fingerThe fridge’s freezer needed to be cleaned first. That’s now been done. 5/27/19 noon.


There is one empty shelf in the fridge’s freezer and one empty shelf in the big freezer. More work required! 6/4/19

Simplify

It just occurred to me that I need to do this with well everything, including the food I make!

Given the “menu plan” I came up with:

  • M Double Veg.
  • Tu Soup/Stew using bits & pieces LO
  • W Second Veg.
  • Th Egg
  • F Double Meat
  • Sa Sandwich
  • Su Second Meat

I’ve been looking at recipes.

Also given that we’re trying to save $, the farm is starting the beginning of June AND I’ve decided I need to set aside some HM instant meals, I’ve been looking at what I might make:

Casseroles and Loaves meat and veg both.

Seasoned Ground Beef Make up a batch of the meat I use for meat loaves and make a batch of meat balls at the same time. Can be used with pasta, or in Albondigas Soup, or smashed with mayo as a sandwich filling, or in a pita with veggies.

The soup/stew base I found last week which I intend to use this year. Making it before I freeze a bunch of it is a really good idea as we’ve never had it!

Salad mixes – like 3 bean salad, except I hate 3 bean salad. But these kinds of salads can be mixed ahead. I’ll have to think/research this idea.

Quiche Base or Mix? Given that I’m supposed to make 1 dinner a week with eggs, maybe this is an idea? Never looked at quiche recipes with that idea.

Those will make the double meals easier. What else can I do?

White Sauce Balls I did this years ago and it was a success. You mix flour, butter, a little milk, salt and if you’re a purist white pepper. (I only use white pepper when I already have it. I don’t care if my white sauce has black speckles or not! YMMV!) You measure this paste out into 1T balls and freeze. Need to make gravy? Grab one or three.

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Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

Other ideas:

  • “Tray bakes” or “one pan” meals for the double  meals.
  • Self-frosting cakes (also one pan cakes).
  • Preplanning enough to use all the bits. When I make stuffed tomatoes mid summer as an entree, I use the innards the next day. That’s something I’ve always done. I wonder what else I can set up that way?

Research! Think! Plan! Do!

 

Extreme Food Planning: Part 2

Other things I can do:
  • Look at the bulk price per lb for turkey parts at the co-op. I don’t like the taste of turkey as well as chicken, but turkey pound for pound, with bone in, is usually a better deal — there are fewer bones.
  • Get the coupon file up to date, haven’t done this since April.
  • Make food from recipes I have using foods I almost always have, first.
  • Figure out how many potatoes and onions I’m likely to need over the winter. (Garlic is < 1 full braid, so are chilis. Carrots approx. 6 dozen.) Onions and potatoes were all used or tossed a month or more ago. After I have a number, I can explore purchasing enough to make it through winter, my goal.
  • Develop a basic stew/soup veg recipe and conversion recipes, so I’m not putting food aside to toss the following spring. Found something to try, a veggie soup recipe that has 2 distinct parts, the first pretty generic!
  • Make more “stewed” tomatoes this year so I don’t run out in Feb. again.
  • Try the celery thing.
  • Make a sourdough starter and USE it.
  • See if you can find unpasturized wine so you can make your own vinegar?

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Photo by LoboStudio Hamburg on Unsplash

Note:

  • 17 heads of garlic still on braid, one in basket.
  • Cayenne ristra jarred. Old pepper flakes discarded. 5/16/19

Extreme Food Planning: Part 1

Most Americans spend < 10% of their income on food. However, unlike mortgage interest, credit card minimum payments, utility costs, etc. it is one expense we all control.

Some of this is certainly dictated by location and available income. You can’t afford to buy $50 worth of bulk soap if you need to feed 3 people for $60 a week and you have a hard time doing that.

That said? I’m fortunate enough to be in the pool of people that can afford to use food planning to reduce our expenditures, at least for now.

So, along that line, I decided to do a category food plan. I’m not doing menu planning. When I did detailed menu planning, I hated cooking, it became a chore I had to get through, like scrubbing a toilet, just another chore. My idea here is to make a loose framework, not a menu plan.

There are two or three things going into this:
  1. I have to empty the freezer by the end of this month to be ready for the summer flood of veggies.
  2. I want to save every nickel I can.
  3. I want to use the above two items as a goad to both finally organize my cooking information and eliminate excess stuff.

What to do?

Convertible meals. One meal that becomes 2 or 3. Right now I have 2 lbs of cooked chicken and consommé in the fridge. That is easily 2 meals. I also have some cooked rice. Okay. Chicken and rice soup is one meal.

The others? The meat pulled off the bone can be made into chicken salad for lunch or dinner or lemon chicken. I have lemons and we’ve both been fighting colds for more than a month. I could add the chicken to the end of the salsa and we could have tacos, which would use up some of the tortillas, or….

Getting 3 meals from 2 lbs of chicken isn’t hard. I think I have 1 more lb of chicken, divided, in the freezer.

I also have a small pork roast, and some bacon. (I wanted pork while I still trusted it.)

I guess that’s another thing I can add to my learn-to-do-this list: learn to make a sausage substitute from chicken and grains…. it’s my observation that self-regulation never works. There are historical reasons why food regulations are so cumbersome. Go back and look at an old cookbook which talks about testing for chalk in flour, etc. before you buy it. I have those books, I have no desire to go back to arsenic in eye drops, chalk in flour, etc.

In my opinion? People are going to die and/or get very sick and then things will start the other way again. That’s a few years in the future yet… in the meantime, I can stop buying so much processed food and do more diy. I also sent a question to my local organic food organization asking about organic pork processing and how it differs from conventional?

Categories.
  • Egg. One egg meal per week. Quiche or omelette or just breakfast. Eggs, unless they get too warm are hard to adulterate and usually cheap protein.
  • Soup/Salad/Veg. Salad or soup or just a veggie plate night, maybe with hummus or other dip. Use up those bits & pieces!
  • Double Meals. One or more double meal nights or converted food nights. Any large piece of meat, large veg, casserole, etc.
  • Sandwich. Self-explanatory.
M -Veg enough for 2 meals
Tu -Soup or salad, using the uneaten and no plan for it bits and pieces
W – LO veg
Th – Egg
F – Meat meal enough for 2 meals
Sa – Sandwich
Su – LO meat

That should work. It’s broad enough that I probably won’t get bored. It also doesn’t give us meat 7 days a week, has a built-in left over day, and uses eggs to drastically lower food costs, as eggs are, after dried beans, almost the cheapest high protein source available. I’m not cooking complicated meals on the weekends, when DH and I tend to do home improvements.

Food Waste Tracking & Food Plan

I dropped the ball on the food tracking because I was just too busy: compiling tax data, cleaning house for new to us freezer, and yesterday dealing with something we really needed: another cord of wood. (We heat with wood.)

In between there we voted, had meals, counted ballots, did laundry, etc. But there has been one major thing having to be dealt with after another all week. It’s done. Hurrah!

Today we get to go to the dump. DH is working on the pot rack he’s building. I started cleaning the kitchen cabinets. Laundry has been done. Dishes have been put away. Life is slowly returning to normal. And I have no idea what we ate which day. I tossed 4 packages of old left overs Wednesday, thinking I was going to the dump, but we didn’t make it. Definitely have to go today, the trash is stinky and full!

DH finished the pot rack he was making! Well, he used up all the materials he had. This meant that we cleaned another part of the kitchen, removed the old apple ladder and grid wall we’d used to hold our pots, pans and colanders/strainers. All of that is on the new rack. Very spiffy!

Why didn’t we buy a rack? DH is 1’+ taller than I. To get pots where I can reach them, he’d be whacked in the face by them. Put them where he can get them? I can’t. So he built one, a spiffy new version of our old ladder.

I tossed one package of food during the freezer move. We unpacked the old freezer, thawed and cleaned it, packed the food in coolers. Moved the old freezer outside. Repacked it, turned it on. And kept it cold for a week. Then we unpacked it the morning the new freezer was delivered and packed all the food into coolers again. Cleaned old freezer. It was put on the driveway to be picked up when the new one was delivered. That happened. The new freezer got packed with the food from the coolers. The coolers got cleaned and put away.

We’ve discussed what happens to the coolers now? The old freezer wasn’t frost free. The new one is. At one point I thought we could store the small cooler inside the bigger one, but that won’t work, alas. They take up a fair amount of real estate on top of the fridge. (We’re going to wait and see how it goes.)

My job re the freezer now? To empty it as much as possible before 6/1, when we start getting farm produce and here we go again!


What I’d intended to talk about was historical food planning. I have a brochure from WWII era by the local electric company and another, I think it’s older, from Knox Gelatine.

From the electric company (edited) and with my comments in italic;

  • Don’t pare carrots; scrub with a stiff brush. Seems my root veggies are always really sandy. I’ll have to try this and see if it works!
  • Cook potatoes in jackets; eat skins and all. See above.
  • Cook young beet tops as other greens. If we ate beets, I would. DH hates them.
  • Don’t peel tomatoes or pare cucumbers or apples. My plans for this year include making tomato powder from tomato skins and there are various ideas for apples. Never thought about cukes. We hardly eat them. Hmmm?
  • Use green onion tops as seasoning. I do this already.
  • Save celery tops for soups, salads, etc. I just use them, always have.
  • Save coarse part of celery; puree for soup. If I’m not planting the bases this year, I’ll try it.
  • Use dandelion and other wild greens. We’ve done this.
  • Use every scrap of baked goods. (bread, cake, cookies) We do this and then also do something I’ve never seen elsewhere. There’s usually a small container in the freezer of “flour dregs” which is the left overs from kneading bread. I use these to thicken soups & stews or make gravy.
  • Use carrot & radish tops as garnish. Or food. I have a recipe I call “beans & greens” which I save carrot greens for every year.
  • Check refrigerator and bread box daily. I usually do this before I make a meal.
  • Plan to use all left overs daily. Nice idea, I rarely manage it.
  • Keep a list of left overs and check them off as used. Never considered this. The tracking I was doing effectively does this.

The Knox book includes recipes for leftovers: meats, rice, etc. The main idea I got from this isn’t actually in the book: making gelatin from LO jelly.

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Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

We always have various jellies going. It seems that they all run out at once: lime marmalade, current jelly, orange marmalade — there’s just a little bit left in the bottle. I have not had an idea what to do with that tiny bit? Maybe make a drink? That seemed like it might be easy to make something which tastes bad: too thinned, so it’s all but tasteless, or if I combined the jellies to make a drink base, it might just be awful.

So I haven’t.

I think I’ll try making small gelatins instead. The flavor/no flavor thing could be a problem? We’ll see!


Honestly? I don’t even know if I have any plain gelatin in the house!

 

New?

My email provider has been bugging me to increase the size of my email file. I don’t want to, as the bulk of what I’ve kept are unread promo emails. So, I started culling email last night. I used to have I think it was 80,000 unread emails. These days that’s down to 28,000.

This morning I was standing in front of the wood stove, something I do in the winter a fair amount. I’ve discovered that the most productive thing I can do while standing there is sort papers. This morning it was going through the last of the yesterday’s ads and coupons. That’s done. Sometime later this morning, I’ll grab a slug of papers out of a box and start on those.  Or, I’ll go through the coupon folder and make sure I know what expires this week.

Sorting paper while standing in front of the wood stove is remarkably productive and gets a job done which isn’t my fave (how I got all the papers to start with).

We didn’t make it to the dump yesterday and when we went Saturday, we just took 2 bags of books. I’ve generated another small bag and DH has it and will donate those today.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

This is exactly like the frugal food idea, that is, have a method in place (a recipe) to deal with the excess and use it, regularly. It’s new for me.

I have cookbooks for using left-overs, but I hadn’t, until recently, made up a list of what to do with specific items.

sunrise

(Image not mine, don’t know where I got it, sorry!)

I didn’t have a plan, for email or for food stuffs, until recently. The paperwork I’ve been doing for a while, especially going through the Sunday papers before we acquire a new set, but not necessarily the going through the file/toss papers — receipts, bills, etc.

So, less stuff: unwanted electronic data, paperwork, books, and less food waste. It’s all good!