Dan and I have been getting much, much better about planning out our menus and really using everything in the fridge. We find that if we only plan out dinner, we tend to end up buying enough food for breakfasts and lunches as well.
Here is the plan for this week, in no particular order:
- Stirfry with bok choy, celery, carrots, bell pepper w/ rice
- Salad with lettuce, cucumbers, pre-cooked chickpeas and pre-made salad dressing from last week, olives, cheese, and radishes and spring mix from the garden
- Barley with peas, cheese, and chorizo
- Pea shoots with bread/pasta and roasted chicken for Dan
- Quesadillas with black beans and a cabbage slaw
- Baked potato fries with roasted or grilled broccoli
We also have applesauce, granola bars and salsa on the 'to make' list.
When we plan our menu, I go through our fridge and make a list of everything in it, sorting into fruits, vegetables, herbs/seasoning, dairy/protein, etc. From there, I tried to plan a few meals around what's leftover.
Some weeks, we have very little leftover. Most weeks, though, we end up going off menu for one meal, eating out, or repurposing a main ingredient. A little bit of creativity uses most of this stuff up pretty quickly.
Once the leftovers have been planned, I pick a few recipes using seasonal ingredients. These recipes come from my cookbook collection, blogs, and recipe archives around the internet. We almost always cook seasonally. First, the seasons in California are very long, so this isn't very limiting. Second, where we shop, they stock almost exclusively seasonal produce. You pay dearly for out-of-season produce, both with money and quality.
As the menu comes together, I make a comprehensive list of what we need for each recipe, underlining the things we don't have. This creates our weekly shopping list.
Our first stop is the farmer's market, where I try to buy most of our weekly groceries. The busier my weekend is, the more I try to find at the market (or do without), to save us a trip to the grocery store. (With bikes, it takes about 2 hours.)
If we need to, we'll also make a stop at the Berkeley Bowl. Otherwise, we'll pick up any leftover items at Trader Joe's (2 miles away, instead of 4.5). If we're short on ingredients, I can also run out to the store midweek, or we can use our abundance of stockpiled dried and frozen goods, like beans, rice and spinach, to make an additional meal.
Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.
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