Column by Marla Cilley
When Robert and I married 13 years ago, my grandmother told him I was bossy! Oh, well, you have to be known for something. I guess this is what happens when you are the oldest. My Granny started telling me to be “saving.” She had lived through the Great Depression, World War II and had been widowed at age 29 with two children. My mother was 8 years old and her brother was 6 when their father died. Granny had three mouths to feed.
Granny told me this one thing that I think can help you with menu planning. She said, “Anytime you throw food into the trash from the refrigerator, you have thrown money in the garbage can!” Think about dropping dollar bills down the disposal. We would never do that, yet each week we clean out our refrigerators and toss leftovers into the trash.
Now, don’t take this to the extremes the way I did! I subconsciously decided that in order to not throw food in the trash, we could just eat out! You may not have leftovers in your refrigerator, but they could be collecting on your backside. Eating out gives us a license to overeat because we paid good money for that food! Imagine that! We already have this way of thinking in our brains; we just need to adjust that to what we have in our refrigerators, pantries and freezers.
In our all-or-nothing way of thinking; don’t go to the other extreme by not cleaning out the refrigerator. My husband broke me of that one day when I looked up and said what are you eating? He said, Beans! I started screaming in horror, “You can’t eat those they have been in there a month!” Then he said with a smirk on his face, “If it is in the refrigerator, it’s fair game!” I almost gagged! Needless to say, he didn’t drop dead!
I am not telling you this to make you feel guilty! We have all done it. My reasons are to get your attention to what is happening in our homes because our perfectionism tells us we don’t have time. We have been told all our lives that we were lazy or stupid or both. We aren’t! We are smart, creative, fun-loving people who have been put down because our brains work just a little differently than the folks who raised us.
Just like we had to practice our habits to establish them, we can take the same babysteps to learn how to plan what to eat and eat what we have planned! I like to plan for leftovers while I am making my menus out for next week.
Wednesday is my soup day. I take those small amounts of things leftover to build my soup: green beans, roast, potatoes, carrots and gravy. Add to that a can of crushed tomatoes or rotel for spice and some more veggies and poof dinner is served. This may be the last day you ever have to toss food into the trash. We have a plan.
When I think back I have never made a soup from scratch, it has always been from leftovers. Today I am making potato soup because I had some leftover mashed potatoes. I made extra so that I would have them leftover. This is the fourth meal they have been used in: mashed potatoes with chicken dinner, added cheese and put them in individual casserole dishes with pork chops, cut a block and wrapped my meatloaf around them yesterday and today is potato soup. We can be creative when we make it a game. Our game is to see what we can do with our leftovers. This also saves us time because we have a plan for the food that is precooked! Our own fast food!
First BabyStep: On Wednesday, let’s clean out your refrigerator. It is SOUP DAY; write in on the calendar.
Second BabyStep: Make a list of your family’s favorite soups. Here is ours; Chili, Beef Stew, Vegetable, Split Pea, Potato, Chicken Noodle and Broccoli Cheese. I am sure you can come up with others. Write your soups on your calendar on Wednesday.
Third BabyStep: Plan your menus for next week around what leftovers you want in your refrigerator next Wednesday for your Soup Night!
See how simple this is. If you want a big pot of chili, make a pot of red beans and rice. Leftover red beans become the foundation to your chili. If you want broccoli cheese soup then buy and extra stalk of broccoli and steam it with another meal. Chicken noodle soup could be roast chicken and make the broth from the leftover carcass. Split pea starts with leftover ham. Beef stew starts with a big beef roast, potatoes, carrots and gravy. And the veggie soup is all the odds and ends that didn’t work with the other soups. My Granny would always keep a container in the freezer for those little smidges of corn, green beans, rice or anything else that isn’t enough by itself.
I love this! You can do it too! All it takes is starting with your Soup of the Week! Instead of making do; you plan for it!
For more help getting rid of your CHAOS, check out Marla Cilley’s website and join her free mentoring group at www.FlyLady.net, listen to her www.blogtalkradio.com/flylady show, or read her books, Sink Reflections, published by Bantam, and her New York Times bestselling book, Body Clutter, published by Fireside. Copyright 2009 Marla Cilley. Used by permission in this publication.