Week 4 of my Simple Food project has come to a close; I’m on to week 5 and the month of February! As I anticipated, it was a busy and somewhat stressful week; I managed to catch myself a nasty little cold as the week wrapped up, so I was particularly glad that I had a plan already in place, and I appreciated my husband’s help with getting the food on the table.
As far as sticking to the menu goes, I stayed pretty much with the plan, aside from the breakfasts which I shuffled around a bit. I also ended up using some leftover collards for the hummus wraps on Friday, since I accidentally used up the chard I needed earlier in the week. All in all, things went very smoothly.
To recap the finances for the week: the weekly food bill rang in at $341.11 – obviously WAY over budget for the week. Because I was under budget last week, everything for the month worked out to a grand total of $1186.81. That is $13.19 under budget! This, of course, may not seem like a big deal – after all, it’s only $13, but for me, this is a HUGE success! I’m really pleased with how things worked out, especially in light of the unusual month I had, schedule-wise, and dealing with both the kids and myself being sick. Those aren’t things that I typically deal with, and I’m really pleased with how I was able to juggle my plan and the budget to make it all turn out well.
Shifting gears for a minute now – I spent a good deal of time on Sunday going over the January menus, changes, financials, etc, and evaluating how things are working and what I would like to change. Some things are working really well, and some things are getting away from me a little bit. Things that I’m happy with and will continue with in February:
- Lowering the food budget. I came in under budget for January, and I’ve decided to lower the budget to $1100 for February. It’s not a dramatic change, but it will require me to stay very mindful of some of my shopping habits that add up and tend to take me off-track (multiple trips to the grocery store, spontaneously deciding to bake thing…)
- The improvised meals. For the most part these went quite well – not all of them were what I would consider to be share-worthy, but nothing was inedible. I’m gaining confidence that I can take on creating a few more dishes during the week, so I’m upping my official goal to three meals a week, and they can be either lunches or dinners.
- Allowing myself the flexibility I need to make the menu plans work. I think that moving meals around in ways that work better with the unfolding schedule of the week makes a lot of sense. Having the freedom to revamp meals or replace them with something quicker or easier is also a good thing, and very easy to do when I planned a meal so I have some good ingredients on hand to work with.
- I like the weekly check-ins; they keep me on track and accountable, and I have a chance to explore what worked and didn’t work in the previous week, then modify the plan for the coming week accordingly.
Things that I think need more specific focus:
- In my excitement to keep the menu varied and interesting, I sometimes forget about keeping the meals simple. I realized last week that I was spending a *lot* of time in the kitchen on too many days, and I didn’t even do any baking. That made me pause and look more carefully at how I planned the upcoming week. While I don’t think that there is anything wrong with an elaborate meal now and then, my plan right now is to simplify; if it doesn’t feel simple, it needs to be changed.
- I haven’t been posting aside from my Simple Food check-ins, and I have some great essays in my collection of drafts. I’m feeling the need to remind myself that, while the Simple Food project is taking time and focus, especially starting out, the whole idea is to free up time and focus for other projects. I’ll be shifting that focus accordingly in February.
- I have not been posting very many recipes (I do have a few in the works that I’m still tinkering with), so I want to focus on adding that weekly recipe post, as I intended to do at the outset of the project.
Aside from that, things are moving along smoothly and I’m excited for the challenges coming up in February – namely decreasing my overall food budget to $1100, and keeping things moving smoothly during my in-law’s visit this month.
Here is the menu for the upcoming week (week 5; I started the menu on Monday as it was February 1st, so Sunday is missing completely from the menu since I didn’t think to add it last week):
Breakfast: Eggs and oatmeal
Lunch: Bagelwiches with tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese and mayo
Dinner: Pasta with leeks and greens
Breakfast: Eggs, asparagus, and berries
Lunch: Chef’s Salad with lemon-tahini dressing (improvised meal)
Dinner: Tree of Life Stir-fry over brown rice
Breakfast: Eggs and oatmeal
Lunch: Chef’s Salad with lemon-tahini dressing
Dinner: Roasted vegetables with buckwheat
Breakfast: Mushroom and cheese omelets
Lunch: Roasted red pepper pasta salad (improvised meal), oranges
Dinner: Brown rice, mung beans and spices, sautéed kale
Lunch: Bruschetta (improvised meal)
Dinner: Roast chicken with apricot glaze, lemon broccoli with sunflower seeds (improvised meal)
Lunch: Chicken salad sandwiches (improvised meal)
Dinner: Butternut squash soup with breadsticks and salad (improvised meal)
I was feeling ambitious this week, so I included a lot of improvised meals towards the end of the week and I will be sharing those recipes next week if they turn out well. I am continuing to work on perfecting a few recipes that I am hoping to share later this week, so definitely watch for those. As always, feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section below!