Hm, not that many. (Or so I’m guessing!)
Hands up if you think it would be a good idea, and have done such plans sporadically. I’d guess that’s considerably more of you.
What are your meal planning habits? If not weekly, do you decide the night before what’s for dinner? Do you stop at the grocery store on the way home from work and decide what looks good? Or do you whip through the drive-through!
I’ve done the whole menu thing a few times in my adult life. Each time it lasted from one week to maybe six or (tops) eight weeks. It almost seemed like whatever I put on the list was the one thing I was sure not to make on a given night.
Eventually it occurred to me that the advice to menu plan is especially helpful for people who don’t have a vegetable garden, watch their beef wander around the pasture, or own two large deep freezes (mostly full). From mid-July to September, especially, supper is chosen in the garden after work by which vegetable(s) seem primed to take over the world if someone doesn’t harvest them that precise moment. Green beans, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, swiss chard, beets. And more. Perhaps we can harvest some baby potatoes. If not, I may need to dip into the rice or pasta in the pantry. Meat? Well, what would go well with what the garden volunteers? Sausage? Hamburgers? Steak? (Yay for microwave defrosting…)
So what are YOUR options?
Garden. Even a few tomato and herb plants on an apartment balcony can awaken your taste buds. Grow as much as you can in your space. This turns meal preparation into a treasure hunt. A fun and tasty one!
Buy a deep freeze. Your space may be limited, but nearly everyone can fit in an apartment sized freezer. This allows you to stock up on items that are on sale, especially meat. A bit bigger freezer is even better. You may be able to purchase a side of beef or a dozen locally grown free-range chickens.
Support a Farmers’ Market or roadside stands. All across the northern hemisphere it is farmers’ market season. Ours opens on June 19, with my daughter-in-law as manager. See what’s ripe and ready in your local area. Buy fresh vegetables and fruit from the people that grow it. Get to know your gardeners and farmers. Appreciate their labor and the delectable bounty they bring to market.
Join a vegetable CSA. CSA stands for community supported agriculture. This is like buying shares in a market garden. For a preset price, you’ll get a bin of fresh garden veggies every week. You don’t decide what’s in it, like at the grocery store, but get your allotment of whatever is ripe that week. These programs are available in many regions. Check what’s available! You’ll learn to cook with kinds of veggies you may never have tried before, because CSA market gardeners are notorious for planting a great variety of foods.
If community supported agriculture vegetable bins had been available the few times we’ve lived in larger towns, signing up for one of these programs would have been the absolute best choice for us.
Where are you in the food chain? How much effort are you putting in to making sure your family has healthy variety every week?