I have to let you know from the outset that meal plans have never worked for us. You know, the ones where you set out each meal for each day and write your shopping list from that. With a husband who is the fussiest eater in the entire world, who might or might not be there for a meal, and a teenage son who may or may not be growing that week, and an unpredictable work schedule, it’s just not something that works for us.
So I don’t have meal plans. What I have are leftover plans. So when the frozen chicken gets shoved in the slow cooker just before I run out the door, the next day we use whatever scraps are left in my ‘special fried rice’. (Key ingredients: rice, soy sauce and whatever else is around. Warning: may include finely chopped heavily disguised vegetables.)
The day or two after I make a bolognaise or savoury mince sauce, whatever is left is ccmbined with pastry to make pies, or put in the base of a dish with green peas and mashed potato on top for shephard’s pie.
I also have emergency meal plans. I know that a can of this, mixed with a can of that, plus noodles, makes a meal everyone will eat. I know I can whip it up in 10 minutes and everyone will have a hot meal very soon after we all get home. I worked out a lot of these emergency recipes while camping, and they are just as good at home when you are sick or you all just got home from a 10 hour drive. Most of them are quicker than going out for takeaway, and you don’t have to put shoes on.
What your emergency and leftover meals are will depend on where you live and what your family will eat reliably. Having some canned or dried food around is also a good idea in case of a real emergency when it is more than likely you will lose power. I have a small butane stove that I use when camping, which can be put into service at home if needed. You may have one of these too, but I’m sure most of you have a barbeque or grill of some sort.
As part of your preparation for storm or cyclone season, or snow season, or whatever is the tricky time of year where you are, get the barbeque or grill out and learn how to cook a full meal. Knowing how to use your emergency equipment will prevent extra stress at the time, you will have enough to deal with as it is.
Ideally, you will also have plans as to what to do with oversupply of lemons, peaches, or whatever fruit is around your neighbourhood and which everyone will be attempting to give away at the same time. Then you need some recipes for the rest of the year that use peach and lemon jam.
So if rigidly organised meal plans don’t work for you or your family, don’t worry. ‘Just in time’ or ‘what I’ve got in the fridge’ meal plans work just as well.
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