Not that long ago I made a list of all the different meals my family likes to eat. Given that in our house there are only 2 adults, one small child and a baby, lots of meals I can make one night and we eat leftovers on a second night.
According the list, and the number of meals from each dish, it would take us 110 nights to get through the list if I only made everything once. 3 1/2 months!
Every Friday we eat pizza - usually home made - and on Sunday nights we have something simple, like cheese on toast, or baked beans or scrambled eggs on toast. That leaves us with five nights a week, so it would take us five months to get through the list.
Add into the mix that we spend anything up to a month each year on holidays or visiting relatives, and we eat out 1-3 times a month, so if I cycled through our whole list and never tried anything new, we would only eat the same thing (other than pizza!) twice a year!
This tells me that I need to do one of two things:
- cut back on the number of different things we eat, or
- not keep the ingredients for every possible dish in my pantry
I’m not much of a meal planner. I tend to go the shops, see what is a good price, then decide what we’ll eat for the next few days. The thought of deciding on Monday what to eat for the next seven days stresses me a little. Well, a lot. I sort of freeze up and can’t think what we could possibly even eat. I don’t like too much structure to follow, but then I don’t like to get to 5pm and wonder what we’re eating tonight. I guess that explains having so many ingredients stored in my pantry.
I probably need to strike a happy medium. I usually do the grocery shopping once a month, then top up with fruit, vegetables, meat and milk once a week. If I made a rough list once a month of meals we might eat this month, then I could make sure I’ve got the pantry staples for those things when I do my monthly shop rather than buying an item just because I used it up last month. If I was really organised, I could even assess what is in my pantry and see if something, like a half packet of split peas, needs to be used up that month rather than it sitting in the cupboard for a year (or more!). I don’t need to keep a packet of split peas in the cupboard for in case I decide to make pea and ham soup. I have to buy the ham bones anyway, so why not buy the peas too?
I could also cut a few things off my list. I’ve never been that successful making my own felafel, and as much as we love sushi, the effort it takes for me to make it isn’t really worth it. If we want to eat those foods maybe we should leave them to when we are on holidays and eat out more.
My grandparents’ generation, and even my parents’ to a large extent, just ate meat and three veg every night, with the occasional casserole or roast thrown in the mix. I wonder if that is better or worse than the vast amount of choice we have today?