Friday, January 11, 2013

Closeout: Food Plan

Well, this has been a busy day, but more on that later.

I started this week with one idea of how to go about fulfilling my task, and now I've got a different one. Thankfully, there's no rule that says I have to come up with a plan on Day 1 and stick with it all the way to the end. In fact, that would go rather against the whole point of this exercise: it's not just about giving myself a swift kick in the pants to do some chore that's I've been waiting on. Rather, it's designed to get me to think seriously about something I know I really should be doing. It's about analyzing and thinking about a problem, coming up with a plan for how to implement it, and then going and doing it (and, yes, the kick in the pants is very helpful with all of this).

But with something like this, there's going to be a certain amount of cycling through the process before we come to a conclusion. I've talked about it a bit here, but this past week I've had plenty of thoughts and idea for how to put together this food plan, scrapping one after another for various reasons. I do think that I've figured out how to make this work, but it's going to take more time (and trial and error) to refine it.

Hey, the task was to create a food plan, not to live it, right?

Some tasks on the list are one-shot deals--specific things I want to achieve once and say that I've done them. Other tasks are things that I'll do for a week solid to write about the experience, like that Morgan Spurlock guy (but handsomer). Tasks like this first one are in another group: unlike most of these other once-a-week resolutions, this is something that I'm going to initially focus on, but will continue living after the week is out. This week's task was to create the food plan. From now on, the task is going to be to live it.

With that said, here's what I've come up with:

These are items that we should always have in the house. When I make my weekly trip to the store, I'll check to see what we've used up. However, there should be enough here that even if I don't, we'll have enough of other items to feed ourselves and even the occasional outside visitor. It's a long list, but that's what you get for having kids.

  • 4 cans red beans
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans
  • 10 lb. bag onions
  • Yukon gold potatoes
  • 5 lb. bag carrots
  • Celery
  • 1 Pint heavy cream
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Milk
  • 2 bags frozen peas
  • 2 bags frozen broccoli
  • 2 bags frozen spinach
  • 2 boxes durum spaghetti
  • Hunk parmesan cheese
  • Eggs
  • Rice
  • Lemons
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Country potato bread
  • Peanut Butter
  • Jelly
  • English Muffins
  • Cereal
  • Bananas
  • Whitefin tuna in water in sealed pouches (may move to the next list once Sharon can have more food)

Weekly Purchases
There are sort of the inverse of the Staples--I'll check to make sure we don't have any left over in the fridge, but otherwise I'm going to assume that every week we'll need:
  • 1 pack chicken breasts
  • 1 pack chicken thighs
  • Chuck roast
  • Rotisserie chicken
  • Ground beef
  • 2 packs chorizo
  • 1 lb. thick-sliced bacon
  • 1 bag salad greens

The big difference between the two is what's driving each meal. Weekly purchases are the main component of the dish we're looking at. As you can probably guess, these are mostly going to be used up in a single dish (aside from the bacon, sausage and salad greens). The Staples are the opposite: they're the dependent variables in the equation, and we're going to draw on them depending on what we want to do with the main ingredient. That, combined with the fact that a lot of the time we'll want to use multiple items to support the main component means that the list of staples is going to be much larger.

Honestly, there's another reason why the staples list is so big: it leaves us a lot of room to make mistakes. One thing I've learned about trying to adopt new habits is that you need to build a learning curve into them. Not necessarily taking baby steps, but you need to make sure you build some padding into the plan to allow yourself to mess things up a little bit without bringing the whole thing crashing down on your head. You'll notice that between frozen vegetables, canned beans and other dry goods, we're looking at a good two weeks worth of dinner side dishes. That room for slippage is going to help keep us on track in the first few weeks when I'm still getting into the swing of things.

And with that, we're able to close the lid on this week's task. Well, except for the fact that I now have to give it a try, along with doing my best to keep notes as I go along so we can make additional changes as I discover holes in the plan (which I will). And we're having a big family get-together on Sunday, which means I won't be able to take the first official shopping trip just yet. Other than that, of course, this little project is off to a great start.

And next week's task?




#51: Make a monthly family budget.


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