Better Dinners In 3 Easy Steps
A while back I wrote about our attempt to eat out less and plan our meals more. The plan was simple. And awesome. It worked really well. But now we’re ready to take it a step further. We’re interested in eating healthier meals at home, meals that take a little longer to prepare. And a little less pasta. We’ve spent the last few weeks trying to get it worked out. This meant lots of shopping, planning, and some major failing too, but we seem to have found what works.
Step One: Clean Out The Fridge
Did you know that leftovers are only good for two to four days? This means that a lot of what is in most fridges is either starting to go bad, or already has. So it’s time to clean it out. I’ve saved more money by keeping a clean fridge than anything else I’ve done in the kitchen. A clean fridge tells you two things: what you have and what you need. You will use what you have. You will only buy what you need.
Step Two: Premake Two Meals
On Sunday, make Monday and Tuesday’s dinners to be reheated. Preferably something that uses similar ingredients.
Our favorite lately is to have black bean taco casserole on Mondays and vegan white bean shepherd’s pie on Tuesdays. They both start with the same ingredients: sweet potatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic. Then one gets black beans, taco seasoning, and cheese and the other gets white beans, carrots, and mashed sweet potato spread on top.
We have taco salad for lunch on Tuesday, and shepherd’s pie for lunch on Wednesday or freeze portions for lunch another time.
Getting ahead allows you to either stay ahead by making other dinners the nights before, or have a break early in the week so you don’t get burned out and want to eat out.
Step Three: Be Prepared to be Flexible
When we’ve planned meals in the past, we would often fail when we saw what was on the list for that night and didn’t want it. We have found that it works much better if we are prepared for three or four different meals, but don’t have a specific day for the meals. For Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, we often choose from homemade pizza, omelets, pasta, or tofu nuggets with french fries. We make sure we have all the ingredients for these meals on hand and whatever we don’t eat during the week, we try to finish up on the weekends before we start again.
Our big failure was trying to do too much of all of this. We made too many meals ahead of time and weren’t able to eat them all. We didn’t make space in our week for not feeling like having what was on the menu and ended up throwing away more food than usual. But we adjusted the plan and we’re now throwing away a lot less than usual. It’s working. And we’re eating tacos once a week which means only one thing: SOUR CREAM.
What do you think?
Do you plan your meals?
Do you make meals ahead of time?
What has worked for you? What doesn’t work?