My goal lately has been to make sure I have a weekly dinner menu in mind before I head into the store. Sometimes that means scribbling one on the back of the grocery list that looks like this:
Monday – Mexican
Tuesday – Fish / Veggie
Wednesday – Grilled chicken / potatoes / salad
Thurs – Pizza
Friday – Out
Even this at least gives me an idea of what I need to buy, or don’t need to buy, at the store. With a menu like this, unless ground beef is on super sale, I’m not buying it. I don’t need burger buns or pasta. You get the picture.
Some weeks though, the menu is more fleshed out and is often based around what’s leftover in the fridge. This week I had a tiny bit of butternut squash puree leftover and also some pinto beans. We had way too many tortillas in the fridge as well, from me being in the store thinking “I bet I need tortillas.” I definitely needed something Mexican on the menu this week…I only had to create meals for 3 days because of some celebrations and visitors we’ll be dining out with during the week. So, here’s how it went down:
Monday – Quesadillas. I used the butternut squash puree in 2 of them (mine) and mashed up the pinto beans to use as a spread on the other ones (for the BF). I sauteed the last of some baby spinach, onion and pepper and a chicken breast. These quesadillas were huge! This required nothing new from the store.
Wednesday – Split pea soup with ham. I have half a ham steak in the freezer that needs to be used up. I love split pea soup and since fall is beginning it seems a good time for that. I didn’t have to buy anything at the store for this either!
Thursday – Risotto with Shrimp and a green salad. We always have about 6 different kinds of rice and grains around. Right now I have brown rice, white rice, arborio rice, sushi rice, cous cous, bulgur wheat and quinoa. Seriously. I also often have shrimp in the freezer. If I can catch them on sale, then I buy them. I’ll add green peas to the risotto as well (also a freezer staple). I did buy a few more salad ingredients at the store, but nothing for the main dish.
Things I always buy: pizza dough, apples and yogurt, another kind of fruit (this week bananas), potatoes (I keep a 5lb bag around), and I usually buy a second green vegetable. This week that was a bag of NewStar Cooking with Spinach baby spinach. I used it several times over the weekend, yesterday for lunch, and tonight.
I find that making menus, even sketchy ones, helps. I don’t have to come home and wonder about what to cook or run by the store. Everything is already here and ready to go.