Maybe in my last post, I sounded a little emo about my upcoming gluten challenge. Truth be told, life it pretty sweet at the moment. Actually I can’t remember being this happy in a long time. It’s amazing the effect your environment can have on you.

About two weeks ago things really started coming together for me. I did my first speech at toastmasters and people actually laughed. I wrote a blog post, with text and photoshop finally coming together. I made a goal to bike 50km and stuck to it. With yoga and healthy food I started to feel more alive. This is in the mist of being head hunted for a new job: but I turned it down, because to put it frankly, I am loving my life exactly the way it is. All the hard work, time management planning and making my environment a healthy one, has finally paid off and in spades. I’m hoping that the sun has set in one chapter and risen in the next.
Victoria-Australia-Sunset
I think with time management we all ask ourselves the same thing. How do I have time to make smart, healthy food? First, you have to want to save. Second, you want to be time effective. That half hour to an hour you spend thinking about your week ahead, and writing a shopping list, will save you running to the market last minute. Wouldn’t you really rather just do this ONCE?

Take an Inventory

Start by looking in your pantry. Do you have pasta, rice, potatoes? Having some staples provides a foundation to decide what to make. Take an inventory, decide on about four meals around such staples, and then work out how you can use a meal twice or three times. This thought and planning will pay out in dividends – you’ll save more and not be tempted to dine out when you run out of food – because you’ll have ‘back-ups’.
Shopping-List-Zoom-In

Budget

Then allocate your shopping money. For example, if you have $100 for two a week: $30 is spent on the essential such as bread, milk etc. Maybe $10 of this is to top up on sauce, oil or spices – that your recipes this week call for – all of which can be used again, the other $70 on the bulk of your core recipe ingredients.

Go Seasonal

This is so, so key. Use two or three staple carbohydrates (from your pantry if possible) then research any resources you have to dress them up. Buying seasonal produce is cost effective and can often be fresher. Maybe you can stuff that roast chicken with oranges? Experiment like learning how to cook something new but in season like fennel or celeriac?
Oranges

Give into your Primal Instinct

Choose two – three cost effective meats, seafood or other protein forms that you feel like eating this week. Don’t forget about beans, lentils, cheese, tofu – all of these are good substitutes, forms of protein and often cheaper.

Love Leftovers

The other day we saw a leg of lamb for $10, so three of my more costly ideas went out the window, in place of using one thing three times. Borinig? No. You can make three uniquely tasteful meals out of one thing. See below where a Pork & Butterbean Casserole is recycled after Israeli Cous Cous, on toast for lunch, then with yellow rice pilaf. Voila! Happy Leftovers.
Pork-Butterbean-Three-Ways

Start with the Basics

Here is a recent meal plan for my shopping list. I already had all the spices, and focussed on double ups. Sharing a common element like tomatoes stretches it out and makes shopping easier.
1. Nachoes: double batch of mince, bulked with lentils, corn, tomatoes, cheese on top.
2. Eggplant Bake: with leftover mince, 1 can tomatoes and cheese on top.
3. Slow cooked chicken: four large thighs, potatoes, lentils, tomatoes, red onions.
4. Leftover slow cooked chicken, double batch of mashed potatoe and minted peas.
5. Thai Shrimp Salad with vermicilli, corriander and nuoc cham sauce (1/3 cup fish sauce, 1/3 cup lime juice, chopped corriander bunch including stalks, and 1/3 equivalent cup of white sugar).
6. Mac n Cheese: Pasta in tomatoe sauce, topped with mashed spud and peas, sliced tomatoes and cheese. Of course if you made double mince for nachoes you could use it in a layer of this bake too.

This is a basic example, but I do welcome any feedback on what recipes you would like to see here. In the meantime, I’m lapping up my gluten challenge. Mostly I’m craving the chive and egg pancakes in Shanghai. A gluten-free disaster but still, them were the days.
Shanghai-Chive-Pancakes
Enjoy,
TasteFlutterAyla