Food used to be my biggest headache…
There was a time when I would spend several hours composing our menu each week, downloading new recipes, ripping recipes from shiny magazines, and paging through my pile of cookbooks for inspiration. My grocery list would be a mile long with new ingredients that I never bought before and may never use again. I’d spend 3 weary, bleary hours in the grocery store trying to find unfamiliar ingredients and make the best choice amongst unfamiliar brands.
Add to that the always-surprising-total at the checkout.
Then the process of cramming and piling the ingredients in the pantry, fridge, and freezer.
Then, of course, deciphering the recipe at 5 p.m. with a crying toddler clinging to my leg and three other children playing the piano at the same time.
The final straw was the unsolicited feedback at the table. An innocent “thumbs down” suddenly felt like a “$152 + 9 hours of work” weight on my shoulders.
Now, food is a source of joy and fellowship…
I made some big changes that have transformed the way I approach meal planning.
One of those Big Changes: Repeat the same meals every week.
Ever since I committed to making the same meals every week, my meal planning has been surprisingly and refreshingly better. I stick with a meal cycle for about 3 months at a time, and rework the menu from season to season.
I love it because it comes with 5 amazing benefits. If you need some stability and simplicity in the kitchen, these 5 benefits are for you.
(But first, let’s be honest about the losses: You’ll miss out on most of the tantalizing Pinterest and Food network recipes. You’ll miss out on some variety. You may feel like this plan is “less fun” and “more boring”. Maybe.)
5 benefits of making the same meals every week:
- You’ll know what to expect from your budget.
As you purchase the same ingredients from week to week, you’ll begin to spend the same amount of money from week to week, and month to month. This will help you to plan your budget with your eyes wide open, knowing what’s coming and not being surprised by some extravagant ingredient that snuck its way into your life via an alluring Pinterest recipe on Tuesday.
2. You’ll learn prices and identify sales.
Because your grocery list will be limited and established, you’ll become well-acquainted with the brands that you like and the price-range of each item. You’ll know when Sharp Shopper really is offering a great sale and when Weiss has the Oatmeal hiked up too high. This will help you to stock up wisely on food that you know you’ll be eating for the next three months at least.
3. You’ll naturally organize your pantry, fridge, and freezer.
Say “good bye” to that motley assortment of half-used bottles of rare oils, random jars of preservatives, and unfinished bags of freezer-burned vegetables. From now on, you’ll know your ingredients, find the perfect place for them on the shelf, and use the food in your freezer. There will be a place for everything, and everything will be in its place.
4. You’ll save time and energy at the grocery store.
As you work your way through the grocery store looking for the same items from week to week, you may shorten your shopping trip by hours. Know exactly what you’re looking for. Stop deliberating about prices and brands. Enjoy your extra 45 minutes by reading a book (or catching up at LauraBooz.com, of course).
5. You’ll become more comfortable with various cooking techniques.
Believe it or not, variety might not be the best teacher in the kitchen. Maybe, as with math facts, the best culinary teacher is repetition. For example, when my weekly menu was sporadic and ever-new, I had to reacquaint myself with every cooking technique every time I cooked. Now that I’ve been repeating the same meals for many weeks in a row, I don’t even have to pull out a recipe to make stir-fry, roast vegetables, or cook in the crockpot.
So, what do you think?
Are you willing to give it a try for 3 months? If you make it a summer challenge, you’ll be so much stronger when life ramps up in the fall.
Before I sign off for the day, I want to make sure that you have a copy of The Reluctant Meal Planner’s Meal Plan. I wrote this for people who – like me – need some encouragement in the kitchen and want some joy in food. Enter your email address and I’ll send the 15-page printable – full of tips, tricks, and recipes – to your inbox.