Saturday, February 19, 2011

Menu Planning Madness, Part 1

I have a half a head of cabbage, a green pepper, a tomato, and two bananas rotting in my fridge right now. I pretty much suck at buying produce- I always get way too much, or nowhere near enough. And while I hate wasting food, I equally hate not being able to make a good dish because I'm missing culinary staples. For now, I'll throw the bananas and tomato in the freezer, to be used in banana bread and veggie broth, respectively, and I'll make coleslaw tonight and hope for the best. But I think the green pepper is a gonner- which is just sad, because, really, I couldn't manage to use a green pepper before it rotted? How sad is that?

On the flip side of the coin, I've been reading a lot of food blogs lately, and am itching to make some really yummy dishes. I've been trying to experiment lately, but the problem is, I never have enough of the ingredients on hand. So I end up subbing excessively, to the point where the final product is good, but culinarily nothing new. I can't win- I buy too much of one thing, not enough of another, and I'm stuck wasting food, spending too much on my grocery bill, and putting the same meals on the table week in and week out.

So I've decided to start menu planning, in an effort to reduce our waste and monetary output. Hopefully, this will also encourage me to put a little more variety on the table, since, if I find an intriguing recipe, I can plan to buy the ingredients and put it on next week's menu. I'm also hoping to become a little more skilled at using leftovers and being more time efficient in the kitchen- say, making double the amount of mashed potatoes one night, and making potato pancakes later in the week. Right now, it's all fine and dandy for me to spend an hour or two on dinner every night, but sooner or later (hopefully sooner!) someone will give me a job, and dinner is going to have to become a much more streamlined affair. I'll post next week's menu as soon as I finish figuring it out.

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