AKA: One Size Does Not Fit All
This is a topic that I’ve struggled with for longer than I care to admit. Not the actual ‘doing’, because I do have my method. The problem is, my method is not what you see posted all over the place and touted by <cough> experts.
Now, I do want to give a shout out to those <cough> experts who actually provide thoughtful, useful ideas and methodologies that people can use. But I want to give a Huge Shout Out to those who understand that works for Person A might not be a workable solution to Person B and poor Person C is left hanging.
Here’s the thing: No two households are the same. They may look the same on the surface, but when you look deeper, you start to see the little realities that make the One Size Fits All Solution unusable.
For Example: How often you grocery shop usually depends upon how often you have money in your bank account. Weekly. Biweekly. Monthly.
What you shop for is dependent upon how much you have to spend AND how you are able to prepare it. If you know how to prepare it.
What you shop for also depends on what you eat. Some folks have serious allergies or health issues. Some folks, hard as I hate to admit it, really don’t particularly care about food. They eat to survive. Others have had some seriously bad experiences in the kitchen and are not too inclined to repeat the disasters. Some just never learned how to feed themselves.
Then, there’s that component that relies on – you guessed it – Time.
How much time you have to spend on the preparation of meals. How much time you have aside from functions like work, school, and the host of other out of the house activities that eat up time. No pun intended.
Knowledge Is Power
Here’s the thing, you know all the answers to the major questions. You also know if you need to learn new things to help you make more of the knowledge you already have.
If you need to learn to cook. Do it! Even if you don’t particularly like to cook, learning will help you work better, more efficiently in the kitchen so you don’t have to spend so much time and money in the kitchen.
Learn how to shop for food. Better choices lead to better meals which lead to better health and a healthier bank balance. You aren’t wasting money on food you end up tossing in the trash.
Better choices come from knowing what works best for certain recipes. Slow cooker recipes, for example, make the most of cheaper, tougher cuts of meat. (Translate: Save money.) They are usually easy to prepare and don’t require you standing over a hot pot. They are pretty much hands off. (Translate: Great for novice cooks.)
Time is an issue: If you can set aside one day a week to prep your meals, you save a lot of time during the week actually cooking the meals. If you want to kick it up a notch, set aside a day or two per month to actually cook those meals or do the heavy cooking required for what I call – and use – the Building Block Method.
By having the majority of the prep work done in advance, you take the stress out of deciding and cooking at the last minute.
The Building Block Method
If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you probably know I prefer to shop in bulk and prep a lot of things in advance. I buy large flats of chicken to cook for casseroles, or large quantities of ground beef to pre-cook for casseroles or prepare as patties that go directly into the freezer. I make use of my oven and my slow cooker to make the process easier and maximize the time and space I have available.
The “Building Blocks” are parts of potential meals that are ready to go when I’m ready to eat.
The cooked meat or poultry becomes
- Taco or burrito filling
- Added to salads
- Pasta dishes
If I am in the mood for taco salad, I have the meat ready to go. All I have to do is defrost and set up the salad. Pasta bake? I pull out my favorite pasta sauce and I have a quick and easy main dish.
I make sure to have all the building blocks I need at hand.
- Eggs and milk
- Soup or soup base
- Herbs and spices
- Ketchup, mustard, and other base sauces
By having these items on hand, I have the freedom to create a wonderful meal without stressing over what is in the pantry and if I need to get groceries. I can do as much, or as little, cooking as I want. Added bonus, I can try new recipes if I choose without a major trip to the market.
You can use meal planning to help you in many ways and you can make it as easy or complicated as you like. Do what works for you!
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