Plans and realities

Meal planning is, for the cookbook fan/control fan/idealist, a lot of fun. Next week’s me is a better me, that won’t comfort eat half a loaf of cheap white bread.

Last year my grand meal planning goals fizzled out within four weeks. My expectations about what my family would eat and what I wanted them to eat just didn’t meet.

Bullet journalling has helped me to see the messy, repeated errors that I’ve made with my time or planning. Many BuJos are beautiful, mine isn’t, but as a thoroughly analogue person I love it.

Eating thiftily is much more important to me this year as I attempt to lay down savings but not compromise (too much) on the quality of the food I buy.  I’ve been a veg box customer for over a decade, and try to buy organic as much as possible, for the good of the soil, the bugs and the animals as much as for myself.  And the produce often tastes so much better. As a glutton, that matters to me.

Here’s a beautiful still life of the real life of my last week’s plan.  Planned once, then again, scrubbed out, changed…

I made stuffed cabbage with a version of this ragu with loads of mash.  I used up Sunday’s roast over adding it to this soup and a supper of noodles.

Making the plan is what seems to matter. Not being restrictive and refusing to bend with life. Buying the ingredients to make the most of my veg box and leftovers, so that Tuesday’s chilli swaps with Wednesday’s pork noodles.  So I’m spending less, there’s fewer panics and that’s brilliant.  Next week should be less meat.

The key difference this year is that I now is write down what’s happening in the week ahead.  If I’m out or there’s a school thing. Frozen leftovers make busy days easier.  I make sure that I have soup so that I don’t eat loads of cheese toasties and instead have veg soup. And the kids are allowed grotty ‘wraps’. Meeting in the middle is better than food in the bin and unhappy people all around.

It’s not rocket science.  But the proof is in: we need to make many small changes. As my ex’s boss said (repeatedly), “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”. And “Look after the corners and the middles will look after themselves”. Maintanence is boring, planning can feel constrictive to start off with; the time and money I’m getting back is brilliant and energising.

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