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By the way - Preparing a menu: how and why.

04/01/2016 - 1 Comments - By the way | Organization

Good morning, my darlings!
Let's shake up the dust and move this blog a little? I miss publishing here! How are you? 

I thought I'd start the year with a post about organization, since this is a moment so many of are in the mood to organize habits.
I've been thinking lately about how many times I recently (before the holidays) could have eaten tastier/healthier/cheaper lunches and snacks, if I took the time to plan previously. Of course, I enjoy eating out too, but when I choose to do so for pleasure, not for sloth.
I could have eaten at home, or taken something nice with me, but I didn't go shopping. I could go shopping, but what to buy, and how much? In which days will I be home in this week?
Sketching a menu can help a lot with this procrastination, and is not complicated at all (although it might seem to be).Most of the times, inertia takes over the place because we don't even know where to start.
I have a faint idea of what could be the lunches throughout the week, but my tendendy is to be repetitive. Besides, I realized that, even if I lunch at home every day, I have to follow the lunchbox logic. If I have to do something else besides heating the food and setting the table, I end up choosing to eat out.
Meaning: in order to eat at home, I have to prepare everything beforehand. Preferably, at once. In order to confidently handle knifes and boards, allowing for the mind to flow, it is good to decide previously what to do.

This is how I do it:
I pick recipes enough for the number of days I am willing to cover; it could be a week, could be a month. Not that I will cook all the lunches for a month at once, but I tend to get carried away while reading recipes. I find it particularly nice to loose myself in books, notebooks, sites, blogs, instead of thinking of a recipe then googling how to make it.
Because, in this way, I am prone to experiment unexpected suggestions, out of that netflix logic for a while - in which I only find things related to what I already watched/read/know.
I like to make lists while I read, writing down good options for:

           - Breakfast;
           - Lunch (mine always includes raw salad, roasted veggies, warm meal);
           - Dinner;
           - Snacks;
           - Desserts.

My criteria are more or less as follows:
Choose tasty foods, that are made from fresh or minimally processed ingredients, that can be prepared previously without loosing freshness (if they can be frozen, better), that do not require utensils or appliances too specific, that are not expensive. 

There are people who like to choose recipes, elaborate a shopping list from them, them go out to get the specific ingredients. I do something similar, but being flexible to adapt according to the seasonal and regional ingredients (that's what's in for today, people). I take with me the recipes list while shopping, be it in the farmer's market or emporium. In there, I will pay attention to the possibilities, see what I can substitute. For example: in a pie filling, it's ok to substitute tomatoes for another ingredient. In the Cuban rice-and-beans, I need to have tomatoes and coriander.

For more relaxed days, where there is plenty of time, what I really like to do is check what's in the farmer's market first, looking up or making up recipes later, based on the ingredients.
Anyhow. That's a matter of preferences and availability. 

In spite of the method chosen for organization, I buy weekly roughly the same items and amounts. Cooking for one or two people, I use:
- 1/2kg beans (alternating the varieties)
- 1/2kg whole rice
- 2 or 3 varieties of raw salad, one bunch of each (tomato, leafy greens, cabbage, fennel, snap peas, sprouts, etc)
- 2 varieties of vegetables to roast, cook, steam (carrot, kale, green beans, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, jiló, okra, eggplant, etc etc)
- 2 or 3 varieties of fruit
- 1/2kg lemon
- garlic, onion, 2 bunches of fresh herbs (parsley, chive, coriander, basil, or other kinds)
- about 300g nuts (good for snacks)
Up to here, I spend around R$60,00.

Depending on the crops, on what I see for sale, sometimes I also get potato, taro, manioc, corn.
Lately, I haven't been consuming animal products at home, but I used to buy sometimes half a dozen of eggs, 1l milk to make yogurt, a 400g piece of white cheese. Talking to a friend, he told me 500g of meat seem to be an ok amount for a person in a week, and a small loaf of bread.

In the monthly shopping I include oats, whole-wheat flour, cornmeal, grains and legumes (chickpeas, wheat), some nuts and seeds (in small amounts, to that they remain fresh and I am able to consume varied kinds: pepitas, sunflower seeds, peanuts), coffee, yerba mate, olive oil, salt, vinegar - non-perishable goods in general, cleaning products.
Try to observe what and how much you and your family usually eats, what you would like to include in the daily meals, where does the waste happen in your home. In this way, you will be able to make a good standard shopping list that meets your needs.
To achieve that, taking notes is really helpful.

After making all the decisions and shopping, comes the delicious part!
Getting hold of knifes and pans and preparing each recipe, later dividing the portions and storing them properly in the freezer or refrigerator, and washing the salad.

I like to keep the weekly menu on sight, in case I still need to add something. Also, because I think this menu Taís prepared with the blog's logo is really charming. Ain't she the sweetest?
In a couple of days, I will upload the image so that you can have a menu like mine if you fancy this idea - I just have to wait for her to come back from the vacation :P

All you got to do it print it in A3 size, adhere to a wooden or Styrofoam board, and cover with contact paper. Then you can use white board pens to write, and wipe away at any time (pay attention not to use permanent marker instead!). 

Did you enjoy the post?
How do you organize to avoid eating out simply because of the rush? Share in the comments!
Happy New Year to all! And may we keep only the habits that are good.

UPDADE: download here the printable to make your own menu! 

13/01/2016 01:21:32

Fernanda Molinaro

Comment
Nunca tinha pensado em fazer um cardapio! Geralmente eu compro o que eu acho bacana na feira ou no supermercado e invento depois.. acabo fazendo sempre a mesma coisa. Amei o post!

Response from Flora
Oi Fernanda! Sabe que eu também tenho essa tendência? Se não dou uma planejadinha com antecedência, fica tudo meio parecido. Obrigada por deixar seu comentário, volta sempre! :)

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