It appears what I do in my kitchen is of great interest to you all…so this week…we’re diving in. I’m going to take you with me through planning, prep & shopping done my way!
If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know I believe in REAL food. I buy real butter and real sugar. Real meat and fresh fruit & veggies. I buy organic when I can, but it is not always as available as I’d like it to be. I cook about five meals a week & we eat out once or twice a month. We eat left overs. I no longer cook a separate meal for caroline, she eats what we eat & usually OUT eats me. The girl is a bottomless pit! I’ve developed my own system for much of what I do so I will walk you through it.
I collect recipes from a variety of places. My top two places are Cooking Light & Everyday Food Magazine. I can usually count on these two magazines to give me really tasty, healthy recipes. I also tend to search Allrecipes.com if I am looking to try something new & dive into the comments section to see how everyone has tweaked the recipe. Then I decide what to do with mine. I have collected a number of recipes over the years. I try to add a new one each week, but the rest are from “the rotation” which is what we call the meals that we both deem YUMMY & want to have again & again. I keep a list of “the rotation,” organized by ethnic cuisine, taped to the inside of my recipe cabinet, as you can see here.
I am in the process of migrating all my paper recipes into evernote so I can cook off my iPad (like we discussed here) instead of my trusty page-protected binders. But I still use both systems. One of these days I’ll get it together enough to just sit at my computer & scan…but here is what it looks like right now. 55 recipes so far, all tagged with their category (dessert, Mexican, to try, etc.)
WEEKLY MEAL PLANNING
I do not have a set day to shop. I go when I can’t feed us from my refrigerator or freezer anymore. Sometimes that is every 6 days, sometimes I can squeeze it out to 9. But since we eat so much fresh, it is pretty much weekly. I spend about $150/week on groceries. This is mostly because of the added expense of organic stuff, as milk alone sets me back almost $30/week.
Before I head to the store I make a list of 5-6 meals for the week. I try to choose a good variety & cook a different ethnic food each night…Mexican, Italian, American…just so we don’t get bored. I try to match ingredients to minimize waste–& choose recipes that have similar fresh ingredients. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but I try.
I add all my ingredients to my iPhone app Grocery IQ (it’s free & also available for the Droid & iPad). I built a “favorites” list with my weekly essentials, so I just have to populate them over to the current list instead of type them out each time. Grocery IQ is great, because you can have lists & “favorites” lists for a bunch of different stores. I have one for Costco, Target, Hobby Lobby…you catch the drift. Then I never forget stuff because my lists are always with me! I only buy what I know I need & I make sure every single ingredient is there before I leave the house. I hate grocery shopping, so forgetting something is not an option…
*updated: I forgot to note the wonderful “scan” feature that lets you use your phone’s camera as a bar code scanner. You can go through your pantry and scan the items you would like to add to your grocery list, or favorites list. This way, you do not have to type your items out & you can add the EXACT item you are holding in your hands. It’s FABULOUS. Especially fabulous if you are lucky enough to ever send someone to the store for you. ;) No phone calls from aisle 5!
I don’t plan which meals we will eat on which night. I need organized flexibility. I decide what we will be eating the day of the meal. ;) I’m [sorta] spontaneous like that. Ok. I am not spontaneous…but this is as good as it gets! ;)
Next up…my clean up fast trick…& Meal #1: quick carne asada tacos with avocado pico. Yummy!