My beloved October flew by too quickly once again. There were trips to the beach and the mountains, pumpkin spice lattes, and one little pirate who was very excited about Halloween.
I dream of these chilly mornings and crisp days all through the heat and humidity that is summer in South Carolina. There are rumors of a long, snowy winter, which would be most welcome in this household. Two weeks ago, I told The Boy that it would be getting cold in a few days, and he promptly announced that he was going to the window to watch for snowflakes. He will be hugely disappointed if we end up having another weak winter!
One of my favorite things about this time of year is the food. Yes, I love a nice, fresh heirloom tomato (especially when it’s chopped up in a big bowl of pico de gallo or sliced with fresh mozzarella and basil in a caprese salad), but the scents and flavors of cold weather foods warm my soul.
Root vegetables and winter squash. Why do we eat anything else? I’m quite sure my family could survive happily for quite some time on turnips, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and a combination of butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash.
I made a new chicken stew recipe the other night, and the only thing we didn’t like about it was the chicken. Seriously. I think we’ll be leaving it out the next time. In which case it will cost approximately $3.00 to make a huge pot of stew.
One thing that’s new for us this season is that after years of talking about it, we’ve finally started making a menu plan. I don’t really know why it took so long. I hated the days when I didn’t know how to answer Ben when he’d call and ask, “So, what’s for supper?” But I thought that planning out a week’s worth of suppers ahead of time would lock us into eating food that didn’t actually appeal to us on the day it was “scheduled” to be cooked.
In reality, it’s working well. Ben knows ahead of time what to expect for supper each night, so he can plan his lunch accordingly. And I’m not scrambling around every afternoon to figure out what to make. I’m using my slow cooker a lot more, so I can prep everything and throw it in during The Baby’s morning nap.
I make notes on the menu reminding me of what I need to get out of the freezer for the next few days. And I plan around foods that can be used in several meals, like the twelve ounces of bacon which has so far been used in the chicken stew and tonight’s chili (which smells really good, by the way!) and will still easily stretch into at least one more meal.
Meal planning doesn’t just save me from the late afternoon panic of wondering what I should make for supper each night. We’re eating healthier and saving money by not resorting to takeout, and we can save even more by stocking up on staple food items when they’re on sale. This is big for me, because while I love saving money, I’ve never been able to get into couponing. There just aren’t usually coupons for the types of food I buy.
The best part is that while a menu makes it possible to plan ahead, since I pull several days worth of food out of the freezer at once, it’s still flexible. And of course, there will always be eggs on hand if I get desperate.
I know I’m behind the times in discovering the benefits of meal planning, but just in case anyone else has been thinking about trying it, do! I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it.