Planning a weekly menu can help you control your budget. When you’ve got specific meals in mind, you can draw up a grocery list that is limited to ingredients that you will need. You may pick up a few extra things at the store, but overall it should be easier to focus on finding the products that you will be sure to use. The shopping trip should be shorter, and you should be more satisfied than exhausted when you come home, unload the groceries, and see your sufficiently-stocked pantry and refrigerator.
But then come the variables. You bought lovely, fresh fruit and vegetables. Now you’re afraid you might have overdone it. What if all four avocados ripen at the same rate? Will you be able to eat all five pounds of russet potatoes before they sprout eyes? Is the huge bush of cilantro going to turn black and yellow before you have time to chop it? Are the bananas going to end up so soft that you have to freeze them for a future banana bread?
Just looking at the beautiful bounty makes you too tired to cook! Will someone please take you out for dinner. Nevermind that the ingredients might be at their peak right now.
If you think that cooking is only a science, you’ll probably go crazy. You’ll be happier if not only have the formulas memorized but also understand the rules. When your life doesn’t go according to plan you’ll know which rules can be broken without ruining everything.
Perhaps you have pulled pork stuck in the sandwich category of your brain. Maybe you think it should only be served plated with a side of cornbread, a dollop of creamy coleslaw, oven-roasted potatoes, and a juicy pickle.
You served that on Thursday evening and now, Friday, there is a little bit of meat left over, but it doesn’t look like enough for a meal two adults. And, oh, the last of those four avocados you bought last Saturday is feeling quite soft! Do you lay out a haphazard buffet of plastic containers full of leftovers you’ve colletcted over the course of the week, or is there a possibility of fusing the ingredients into a “proper” meal that you both can enjoy?
Considering someone else’s ideas can be liberating. I wasn’t so sure that fresh avocado would pair with sweet bbq sauce and pulled pork, but I listened to my husband’s suggestion. The corn tortillas, chopped onion, sliced avocado, diced potatoes, and shredded pork were quite a nice combination.
So. Do plan. Do make lists. But also be happy when creativity can rearrange your plans into a differently shaped success.