This a brilliant strategy. I need to organize my weeks better to have consistency in planning. Right now Mike helps me season the meats in the morning and then I cook everything after my last client in the afternoon. We try to have enough for 2 days to save time.Cheeky I'm going to let you in on my "cheat sheet" for grocery shopping and meals. It saves me money, time and energy. This keeps my kitchen humming along and I can easily delegate so George helps me without difficulty. It's simple for both our sakes. I struggle with brain fog as the fatigue worsens thru the day.
iPhone CHEAT SHEET:
I have a list on my iPhone in Notes of 5 categories of meats in my freezer; Sunday dinner items, chicken, pork, fish and ground beef.
In each category I list 5 stupidly simple "recipes" that I usually have the fixings for on hand. My pantry & spices are pared down for simplicity as well.
Plus 5 extras that don't fit in any category but I make regularly. That gives me 30 options.
Those "recipes" are like the ribs I'm making tonight. Pork ribs. Seasoned salt, pepper. Bake on a foil lined tray at 400. Done.
I pull something out at 9am (or pm the night before to thaw in the fridge when I worked shifts) and I know what I'll do with it. I can change my mind if I feel like it. If I'm really tired, I default to "plop it on a foil lined tray and bake at 400" which just happens to be the ribs tonight.
I ear mark 5 meats in the freezer and those 5 veggies (see below under online grocery shopping) for 5 meals plus a couple of leftovers. Counting on the fingers of one hand! Keeping it simple!
I call it my 5&5 menu because it's a list of 5 meats and veggies that I can mix and match and pull out whatever we feel like. Keeps it flexible. Add a carb for the carb eaters, and it's DONE!
I HATE menu plans. Too much like a straight jacket. This works because I'm not locked into ground beef on Wednesday when I might prefer chops. Why 5-- because usually that leaves room to finish the leftovers and maybe have takeout for fun. Or go out. It stays flexible.
My Sunday dinner is my Roast something that gives me leftovers for Monday when I'm usually doing the change of sheets, towels and main laundry. It's a "company" type meal. Roast beef, Pot roast, Ham, Lamb chops or roast and Steaks on the BBQ. Green salad usually as a veggie side. I wash and chop a 3 pack of Romaine lettuce into a big dollar store salad bowl "keeper" with a lid. It goes for 2-3 days depending on the company on Sunday.
I am limited to the small space in my fridge freezer.
When I make an online grocery order for George to pick up, I cast an eye on my categories so I can spot which of the 5 I'm running low on. Ditto my simplified pantry. I think about lunch fixings too-- we do a lot of canned salmon & tuna salads, cheese and cold cuts from Costco.
If ground beef is on sale for example I might pick up one or 2 chubs and cut it into 1to1&1/2 lb chunks and flat pack it into a medium ziplock freezer bag.
Flat packs thaw best and take the least room.
If he goes to Costco and I am low on pork chops he picks me up a boneless pork loin and I cut it up into chops and a roast and flat pack the chops. Saves money.
ONLINE GROCERY SHOPPING:
Online orders save time, energy and money. I don't complicate it. If I need ground beef and it's not on sale, I buy the ground beef anyway. The savings come from me not being in the store -- the online shopper sticks to my list. George picks up the order or if he goes to Costco for me, he sticks to the list. If they are out of something, I substitute from what I have on hand.
I have a veggie list that consists of topping off my onions, potatoes and carrot supply plus 5 other veggies of whatever looks good this week to get us thru a week. I always have a jar of sauerkraut in the fridge from Costco, and some tins of beets for emergency veggies.
Top up the fruit in the fruit drawer, the bread or bagels for George, butter, cheese, cold cuts, eggs, milk and orange juice and I'm done with groceries for another week.
What this does is it gives me options-- I don't HAVE to follow my 5&5 plan if I don't want. But I know I have everything I need for a week without hitting the store again. I always have extra meats in the freezer and I always have my carrots, potatoes, onions and sauerkraut on hand if the 5 meals aren't lasting us the whole week.
Your meals, and recipes will naturally be very different but this is just an example for you or anyone else short of time, money, or energy to keep on rolling with regular meals. Pick and choose any strategy that resonates with you.
It's ok but I like your simplified version better. We just started simplifying our seasonings too because we don't have a lot of kitchen space since we share with my mom. Thankfully her and I cook for each other too, which helps.
Thank you for sharing this cheat sheet. I will definitely incorporate it into what we're doing. Automating it will definitely go a long way.