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  • Betty Girardeau

Planning Ahead

All of my adult life I have made weekly meal plans for dinners. Initially I did it because, as newlyweds, first still finishing college and then in the military, we had very little money. And even when our income became greater, I still needed to keep within a pretty strict budget so that we could buy a house and a second car and start saving for the college educations for three children. I have always been fascinated by recipes and trying out new ones. And I have enjoyed the challenge of planning interesting meals while still staying within a budget.

Usually the night before my grocery shopping day I will gather a stack of recipes from books, magazines, and, more recently, ones found on the internet, my grocery list, which is an app on my iPhone these days, a calendar, and a pen and sit down to plan for the week. After selecting the preferred dinner recipes for the week, I write down a dinner menu for each day, often being able to stretch that menu to cover at least two days. While on paper there are designated daily dinners, I have never felt locked into having that particular meal on the day that it is noted on the calendar. I check what ingredients I may need and add them to my list. When I get to the grocery store I will seldom buy anything more than what is on the list. It's a pretty efficient system which I have particularly appreciated since the pandemic started and I don't want to spend any more time than necessary out in a public space. In fact, these days I can usually leave and return home from shopping in just slightly over a half hour. Another benefit I have found is that since I already have dinner plans, I don't have to worry about what I am going to have. I can even look forward to both the preparation as well as the actual eating. So, except for cleaning up, everything from planning to execution is really fun. Sometimes there is the challenge of how to use up some of the perishables in the refrigerator. The picture above is of my dinner on Friday: Spicy Sriracha Grilled Chicken and Watermelon Salad. This salad allowed me to use leftover watermelon, some of my abundant cherry tomato crop, romaine lettuce, and the last of a container of Feta cheese. It is a really delicious salad, and it made me feel good to not be wasting anything that I already had. My brother-in-law liked to say, "Prior planning prevents poor performance." I have to say that, for me, this has proven to be true when it comes to buying, preparing, and eating dinners.

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