Monday, January 19, 2015

January Challenge: Meal Planning

It's January, its cold and windy here in Missouri and I'm not a fan of heading to the grocery store when I  want something to eat.
Cold Missouri Morning on Rt 63
Friends of ours are trying out Paleo Meal Planning, they are both busy medical students, with a baby and very healthy conscious. They have been going strong for the last six months, and love the once a week grocery trip, as they get more time at home with each other and their little one. Not to mention less time in the freezing wind on icy roads.

Paleo you say? Sounds interesting.... but I love beans, corn and other restricted foods too much to go strictly Paleo.

Once a week grocery shopping? Count me in!

Having a plan for dinners, and not using precious mental power to think about what to make? Sweet!

But, lets talk about other options. Earlier this month Tom and I went through the Jamie Oliver, The Naked Chef app, identifying new recipes that looked tasty, fresh and relatively simple. We are both good cooks, with lots of practice (there are no good restaurants in Kirksville) and discerning pallets (East Coast and Texas raised). Using the app we built a grocery list, checked off the items we had at home already and hit the ground running.

One week of cooking together, new flavor combinations and a flop or two got us hooked on the idea of meal planning. Why not layout what you want to eat, with flexibility of course, and buy everything for the week in one go?

This week we are trying a slightly different take on the idea: Batch Cooking. Check out this post on Batch Cooking 101 on Nutrition Stripped for an over view of the idea.

This morning I had some free time (how weird) so we put together a batch of venison chile and a pot of chicken soup. Since we only ever eat dinner at home having two homemade and oh so tasty options for dinner doesn't seem like a bad idea. We spent quality time preparing the food while we had a moment, and now can simply re-heat the better-the-next-day dishes while we are busy during the week.

Soups, chili and stews lend themselves perfectly to our plan, as they tend to taste better the next day anyway. Also, at the end of the week what ever left will go nicely into the freezer and become an emergency dinner down the road.

Benefits:

  • One trip to the store
  • Cooking when there is time, not when you're tired
  • Fresh, healthy food on hand
  • Freeze leftovers for emergency meals
  • Less time in the kitchen, more time with family
I recommend making a batch of my favorite Balsamic Venison Stew to start out, or a body warming Hickory Smoke Chili