Mealplanning II

Just a little more on mealplanning, after my cooking with leftovers post a few months ago set the scene.

I do my weekly mealplan with Google Docs, in front of the computer. Seems a bit nerdy to type about food, but incrementally benefits have emerged.

The first is that I can plug it into my shopping list doublequick. I have been using OurGroceries for a few years now. It’s a smartphone app that can sync the household shopping list between my phone, P’s phone and all the various computers. If either of us wants something, we can put it on the list from wherever we are and it’s in the right place for whipping out the phone at the supermarket. Once you get there, tapping each item as you go round the store crosses it through. (and were anyone watching from home, they could see how fast you were getting around)

For ages I was planning the week’s meals, printing them out and sticking them to the cooker hood with a magnet (the fridge front is part of a fitted kitchen, so not metal!) This meant unless I was actually in front of the cooker, I couldn’t necessarily remember what was for dinner that night. Now, thanks to the magic of Google and cutting and pasting, I create an event in my calendar for the meal each night. I have access to P’s calendar too, so I can easily see if there things that will delay him or mean he isn’t eating at home. I can make the event longer if it’s something that needs extra cooking, and if I’m out of the house and need additional ingredients, all I have to do is check my phone.

Thirdly, I’ve gotten into the habit of posting the week’s plan into Google Plus and pushing it to a group of contacts I know are interested in food. This leads to helpful discussion and interesting facts and helps share some of the ideas. (You can find me on Google Plus here.) In fact, this has fast become my only use of Google Plus. It tends to be the social network I check last and only if I have time. And almost all of my contacts seem to be using it as their secondary network, so by the time I get there, most of what I read I have already encountered from those people on Twitter or Facebook.

I have been thinking about posting the meal plans here on the blog. Is that de trop? To be honest, much of the writing I do here now is food and twitter, so at least that would mean a weekly post!

Mealplanning and cooking with leftovers

For the last three months or so, when I’ve been home all week, I’ve been much more rigorous about meal planning and cooking an evening meal. I start the week – before I go shopping – by writing out what will be the evening meal for both of us, then head to the supermarket. This has really saved me some money, cut down how often I shop and some weeks, when I start off thinking there’s loads leftover, has got the weekly shop down to £20. Not bad!

Some of the parameters for the mealplan for the week are: one and often two veggie nights – or at least meat free. When it’s just us, I don’t make much of an effort to make sure I am totally veggie, so might still use a meat stock, for example. Another is that evening meals contain at least 2 portions of veg to fit in with a general plan of 1x juice with breakfast, two fruits at lunch and voilà – 5 a day.

And for each week I try and make sure there’s at least one pair of cooking too much / cooking with leftovers the following day. An example is the 2×2 lasagne I blogged about a few years ago. ((years? really?? omg)) This week I shall be doing something a little like that, but with canneloni and a blue cheese sauce.

Other things I like to do are:

Roast chicken: one roast chicken will feed two of us at least three times, and then boiling up the bones for stock is a good way to take up space in the freezer get further tasty meals in future. Subsequent meals include: chicken pie with a simple crust and a sauce made from crème fraiche and mushrooms and chicken risotto using the stock as well

Bacon joint: Sainsbury’s has these rolls of smoked bacon as a joint that are particularly delicious and available in smaller sizes. The 750 gram joint will just about feed two twice if you are not piggy. It does rather annoy me that something sold in exactly 750 grams has cooking instructions based on multiples of 500 grams, so I always have to blink twice whilst doing the maths to work out the cooking time. Something like this in the oven is a good excuse to do jacket potatoes at the same time, so the first meal is usually bacon, baked potatoes and cauliflower cheese, and versions of the second meal have been chunky pea and ham soup and yer basic ham egg and chips.

Sausages: usually another excuse to do baked potatoes, supermarket sausages are usually sold in packets of 8, which is too many for two but not enough for four, so the leftover 2/3 sausages need substantial bulking out to turn into another meal. However, what I have been doing lately which is rather nice and reasonably healthy is a veg-ful pasta sauce where you fry an onion, celery and carrot until translucent, then add a tin of tomatoes and a glass of wine and boil furiously until the wine is pretty much reduced and glossy. Add in the sausages somewhere along the line and start boiling pasta towards the end, mix the lot together and there you go.