Friday, October 12, 2012

Getting back to meal planning

When most people wake up in the middle of the night in a panic, it's because they don't know how they'll pay the bills, or they've just had a dream that they can't find their child, or they just remembered that they forgot to do something critically important. 

Not me. When I wake in the night in a panic, it's because of something crazy. Crazy like last night. The fridge and freezers are stuffed full, and I woke up in a panic because I was afraid we wouldn't go through all this food before it spoiled.

Really, I was panic-stricken. After several minutes of tossing and turning, I finally got up, went to the kitchen and turned on the lights, at 2 AM. I found a sheet of paper and pen, and went to the fridge/freezer and searched for everything that could possibly spoil if we didn't use it this week. I wrote all these items down, then menu planned to use them up this week. The next morning I went out to the garage freezer (where we have the most in store) and looked through everything and made a plan to use 1 thing from the freezer per day, and try to clear a shelf or two, so I could relax a bit again.

Does this sound crazy, the lady who stocks up in big quantities, having a freak-out over maybe having too much? Well, it may make more sense if you imagine having your living room filled to the brim with furniture. You might get an overwhelming desire to get rid of things. I know I tend to feel a bit claustrophobic if the house becomes too filled with stuff. This is how I feel when the fridge, freezer and pantry are extremely full.

So, it's time to use some of this up, for my sanity's sake.


I tend to meal plan only under two sets of circumstances, one, when we're running low on everything, and two, when we have so much I want to make sure we use it all up.

Right now, we're in the super-surplus category. So, I'm back to meal-planning. From the fridge, we need to use up cooked beans, cooked brown rice, corn-on-the-cob, yogurt, early season apples, tomatoes, plums, pears, and onions. From the freezer, mostly I just want to free up a shelf or two, so the items to use are not specific.

Tonight's dinner will use some cooked rice, black beans and corn-on-the-cob from the fridge, tomatoes and onions, plus some cheese, eggs and milk. I'm putting these together into 2 dishes, one a skillet dinner (a great use for odds and ends) of beans, rice and tomatoes, and the other, a corn pudding topped with salsa and cheese. In addition, we'll use some of the fruit that's in the fridge, plums and apples, in a fruit salad. I also baked a plum kuchen (using 20 plums) for tomorrow's breakfast.

For my own lunch today, I pulled out some small things from the freezer. Tomorrow's packed lunches will have sandwiches, yogurt, fresh tomatoes, and more fresh fruit.

I've already pulled a container of home-cooked refried beans, from the freezer for tomorrow's dinner. I'm making bean and cheese burritos, with a tomato salad and more fresh fruit. 

Saturday's lunch will be a black bean soup, using all the ripe tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and topped with cheese and salsa. Soups are another great use for odds and ends.

Meals for the rest of the week will involve using the above mentioned fresh foods, plus something from the freezer every day. 


I'm feeling better now that I have a plan for using up some of our surplus. I should hardly complain, but a panic is a panic, and I'd like to sleep better tonight.



Do you meal plan regularly? 

Do you do this weekly or just when needed, (during busy periods, when there's company expected, or as in my case, either too much or too little in the way of supplies)?