The aspect of Project: Food Budget that has been the most revelatory for me is that creating menus really helps with shopping and saving money.
So it’s something I’ve been working on. When I see a dish I think I would like to try, I try to think about what would go well with it (soup? salad? some other type of appetizer?). Then I start a shopping list, and think about other things that I can incorporate into a meal plan with leftovers, and usually in a bit I have a plan for the week.
I’m still practicing, but I’m going in the right direction.
Last night, I made “Chinese” food for dinner — baked spring rolls with dipping sauce, steamed brown rice, and stir-fried Morning Star chik’n strips and broccoli. I used tofu instead of pork in the rolls. Dan ended up really really liking the spring rolls — I didn’t tell him they had cabbage in them — and asked me to try making other versions. Since I have lots of eggroll wraps and cabbage left over, and they aren’t too difficult to make (time consuming, but not difficult), I plan to accommodate his request. I think I’ll add baby shrimp for Dan and add bean sprouts to the cabbage and carrot mix.
Next Sunday, I’m having two other couples over for dinner, and I was completely stymied as to what to make. I solicited Twitter, and got a lot of ideas: baked pasta (which I love, but Dan is very “meh” about), lasagna (which I had toyed with as a plan, but Dan is a total fuss ass about lasagna), roasted chicken and potatoes (the roasted chicken part scares me a little) (okay, a lot).
My favorite idea came from @goob: polenta with blue cheese and beef stew. Obviously, as two of us are vegetarians, I’ll have to think of a good alternative that’s easy. I am leaning toward beef stew (done in the slow cooker), baked polenta, green salad, and creamy mushroom sauce for us vegetarians.