I grew up watching my mom make a list on Saturday morning of all of the meals she planned to prepare for the following week. That meal plan led to a grocery list which then accompanied us to the store.
When I left for university, I tossed the meal plan, um, plan out the window and shopped for whatever I felt like buying at the time.
Lots of money and even more spoiled food later, I realized that perhaps my mom was on to something!!! By thinking through what you intend to make, and to a certain extent when you intend to make it, you can take control at the grocery store. Buy what you need! Buy when you need it! Ignore the over-marketed products and overcome impulse shopping!!
I actually plan for two weeks worth of meals because 1. our co-op provides us with veggies and fruit every two weeks and 2. I hate grocery shopping. I wish that meant I went to the grocery store once every two weeks, but I still average about once a week as I run to pick up supplemental (or "buy it later") items that we would prefer to have fresh.
The co-op facilitates my planning by emailing an upcoming delivery notice on off-weeks so we know what will be in our next pick-up. I plan what we will eat around this list. I also keep a set of staple items on hand for meals when nothing on the list sounds good at dinner time. These items include:
- Frozen shrimp
- Frozen chicken
- Various marinades
- Canned tuna
From these items I can make everything from a simple salad to a stir fry to a grilled main dish. Delicious!
So what's for dinner on co-op day? We have a lot of fresh and tasty items in this week's delivery, plus it is extraordinarily hot outside, so I opted to make Taco Salad.
The Hayley's Taco Salad
- Azteca taco salad shells
- 1 lb. lean ground beef, seasoned with taco seasoning
- 1 can fat-free refried beans
- 2 ears of organic corn on the cob, steamed and stripped
- Chopped organic lettuce
- 1 organic tomato, chopped
- 1/2 organic red onion, chopped
- Black olives, to taste
- Organic cilantro, to taste
- Pickled jalapenos, to taste
- Mexi-cheese blend, to taste
Bake the salad shells according to package instructions. Fill with beans, meat, corn and a hint of cheese. Add lettuce, tomato, olives, cilantro, jalapenos and cheese. Enjoy! (Serves 4)