Monday, September 8, 2008

Frugal Food Help: Menus, Katharine-Style!

My menu planning for the week is significantly different than Alison's, and for good reason.

  • Alison lives at home with her parents, who have last say.  I live with my roommate, L, and we make our menu together.
  • Alison's family is vegetarian, so their options are a bit more limited.  Now, I don't eat fish or shellfish of any kind, so I'm not exactly free as a bird over here, but we are mostly limited by my likes and dislikes... with notable the exception of L's dislike of snow peas... I mean of all things to not like..
Here is how L and I plan our menu for the week.
  1. First, we use what we already have. We look in the fridge for things that have to be used in the next week.  We think of meals that incorporate those items.  We try to make a whole week's menu on what we already have in our fridge/freezer.
  2. If we can't do that, we try to think of meals that won't require us to buy much.  An example would be...  If we have ground beef that has to be used, are we going to make tacos or hamburgers?  Well, do we have rolls or tortillas in the freezer?  Would we have to buy things for an appropriate side dish?
  3. The next thing we do is throw in a meal that is 'vegetarian'.  And by this I don't actually mean, not containing any meat, but more, a meal where the focus of the dish is not meat.  Pasta with sauce is a good example.  Whether the sauce contains meat or not, its significantly cheaper than having steak for dinner.
  4. If we have to shop, we make a list.  Now, we don't necessarily stick exactly to the list, but we are close.  Sometimes we pick up fruit juice in addition to the list, or another treat, but we limit is as much as possible.
  5. When we go shopping, we go full.  We try to go right after lunch, before normal people are out of work.  Being a student has distinct advantages sometimes.  When we go to the farmer's market, we go right after breakfast.  We walk there, I'd say its about three miles, do our shopping, and treat ourselves to a slice of pizza for $1.25.  Then we take the T (that would be the subway system in Boston) back to our apartment.
  6. We make sure to eat things that might spoil first.  Usually, this means things that have been hanging around in our fridge a while.  Heavy cream for making pasta sauces or vegetables that are getting questionable.
We keep our menu plan on our fridge, so that we know what we are supposed to be making for dinners.  We  sometimes switch meals around, but try to do it only for what won't spoil, and usually based on time constraints.

How do you plan your weekly meals?

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