It is Friday – Food Waste Friday – so it’s time for me to account for my food waste over the past week. Today, I also want to talk about meal planning – specifically how to make meal planning work when you don’t like to stick to a meal plan!
Waste this week
Things are firmly back on track after being railroaded by illness for the last couple of weeks. The only waste this week was an orange, which my husband diligently disposed of before I could diligently photograph it.
Postscript: My husband didn’t throw it out, he just cut off a bit and ate the rest. What a keeper.
The best laid plans ….
Each week, I devote time to writing a meal plan, however, 90% of the time I don’t stick to it – well not to the letter. Things come up, or when the day comes around I just don’t feel like cooking or eating what I had planned.
To accommodate this, I’ve developed a more flexible meal planning style. Here are some tips on how I make this work, while minimising food waste.
- Avoid over-planning
Keep your plan simple. If you like some latitude to follow your mood, planning at the level of “pasta” is probably more appropriate than “Mediterranean macaroni cheese with green salad”. Generally, I reserve being specific for when I must make a certain dish in order to avoid a food waste disaster, or company is coming over, or if I’m trying a new recipe.
- Start fresh
Order is important – I start the week with meals that use the ingredients that need to be eaten first. Salads and stir-fries with lots of fresh veggies go at the start of the week. One-pot wonders that use frozen and canned veggies more towards the end of the week.
- Have your store cupboard on standby
The end of my week usually features a store-cupboard-standby meal – something that I can make mostly, if not exclusively, using pantry ingredients and maybe some frozen veggies. If I’ve changed things up during the week and skipped a meal on the plan, I just move everything along a day. The weeks tandby meal then gets carried over to the end of the next week, with no waste.
- Use your freezer
If you have freezer space, use it. As I know how liable I am to change my mind, I freeze a lot on shopping day, even if I plan to use it within a couple of days. Yesterday, I bought and froze the pita bread we ate with tonight’s dinner. On this occasion, I stuck to the plan, but you never know, things can change in a day and I’d rather defrost something than have to throw it away.
Do you write a meal plan? Do you stick to your plan? What are your best meal planning tip?