Having just read a post by The Madhouse on menu planning (sorry this piggy backing seems to be becoming a habit) I thought I would do a quick post on the subject rather than make my comment go on for ever !
I started menu planning a few weeks ago now, and I am loving it :D My reason for doing this was basically because I was throwing away so much food it was a crime. The Daddy likes good food, and as I never had a plan I always had to make sure that I had all the ingredients available for just about anything he or I might decide to make - can you imagine how much waste this creates ?! When you add in to the equation that I buy predominantly organic food it was also costing a small fortune. I have a fixed 'allowance' from The Daddy to pay for food, all of Star's needs and all of my own and finally realised that by wasting less money on food I would have more to spend on Star and me. Now don't get me wrong, I am passionate about organic food so I'm not buying cheaper, just buying less. I also now buy most of my meat from an organic farm shop near where I live as I found that not only is it locally produced, with a great butcher who will prepare anything for you, it is also about 25% cheaper than I was paying with Ocado.
The outcome of all this is that I have managed to reduce my grocery spend by between 25 and 50%. I also feel more organised and actually think we have a more healthy diet as I now plan, for example, how much red meat we eat in a week. We never run out of anything, I never have to scratch my head to think 'what am I going to cook tonight ?', we have a tasty, nutritious meal every night and we have little or no waste. Can you tell that I'm rather evangelical about this new regime ?!
I have all the 'meals' that I ever cook listed on the laptop, and each week, on Sunday, I copy and paste into this weeks menu plan. I then update my scheduled Ocado deliveries which arrive on Monday morning, and again on Friday morning. Star and I also visit the farm shop for our meat on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Job done...simples !
There is one draw back that I can see. Because I'm now alot more aware of what I'm cooking I am also much more aware of the limitations of my recipe repertoire, and I do find this very frustrating. I have a bookcase full of recipe books but either don't have the time to wade through them for inspiration, or am too worried that the end result will be disappointing. I find the best recipes are those that have been tried and tested by friends and family and come highly recommended. I have asked the lovely Wendy for recipes in the past. All have been fab but, wonderful as she is, I can't rely on one person, so I have an idea that I would like to float, just to see if there would be any interest...
I'm thinking about doing a weekly menu plan post and thought I could put a mclinky up (? not even sure what it's called let alone know how to do it!) for others to post theirs. We can all then have a look and if something catches our eye the poster could be invited to share the recipe. Those not on the menu planning bandwagon could still participate by sharing their favourite recipes. I'm sure there are lots of mums/dads/cooks looking for kitchen inspiration !
If you think you would be interested in participating in this in some way, or can suggest a better format, please do let me know...