MEAL PLANNING HAS SAVED MY SANITY.
Before I had my daughter Elodie I had never heard of meal planning.
Now I can’t imagine my life without it.
Not only does it prevent the 4pm scramble when Elodie is starting to feeling hungry, meal planning has also drastically reduced the amount of food we throw away and that feels amazing. I save time. I save money. And I save my sanity in the process.
WHO DOESN’T WANT THAT.
I’ve had the incredible opportunity to partner with Atlantic Superstore for their Atlantic Superstore 2018 Canadian Food Trends #TasteTheNewNext. Over the next 6 months, I’ll be creating original recipes and sharing my thoughts on each of the year’s trends.
I’m starting with Chef Ned Bell’s #LeftoversRevival theme. The whole concept of #LeftoversRevival revolves around saving time, saving money, reducing food waste, and creating food that tastes good. As the mom of a toddler, I want all of those things.
I was sent a gorgeous wooden box filled with ingredients to use as inspiration in my #LeftoversRevival recipe. With a jar of lentils, bottles of saffron, cumin, and ginger, a carton of PC Tom Yum Broth, a bottle of PC Memories of Argentina Chimichurri Sauce, and more, I brainstormed how I could stick to the trend by both using leftovers, as well as creating new leftovers for my family to eat throughout the week. I had some leftover cooked shrimp in the fridge, and a drawer full of vegetables on hand, so decided to use the Tom Yum broth, the leftover shrimp, some vegetables, leftover rice, and fresh cilantro to make a quick soup. It’s a simple dish full of flavour that fits into my meal planning quite nicely.
Tom Yum Soup with Chimichurri-marinated Shrimp, and Vegetables
Feel free to substitute leftover chicken or tofu for shrimp. You can also substitute the vegetables listed for any others you have on hand.
½ cup PC Memories of Argentina Chimichurri Sauce
20 leftover cooked shrimp
4 cups PC Tom Yum Broth
½ pound asparagus, trimmed, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 small zucchini, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 ½ cups leftover cooked basmati rice
Fresh lime, for squeezing
Fresh cilantro, for garnish
In a small bowl, mix PC Memories of Argentina Chimichurri Sauce and leftover cooked shrimp. Set aside to marinate.
In a medium pot bring PC Tom Yum Broth to a low simmer. Add chopped asparagus, chopped zucchini, chopped cherry tomatoes, and leftover cooked rice. Reduce heat, add chimichurri-marinated shrimp, and serve with a squeeze of fresh lime and some fresh cilantro.
Prep time : 10 minutes
Cook time : 15 minutes
Servings : 4
ADDED BONUS - 5 MEAL PLANNING TIPS
I’m still relatively new to meal planning and was really intimidated at first. If you’re at all curious, or have been thinking about trying meal planning, here are five things that helped me get started:
1. MAKE A LIST OF WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE - This is CRUCIAL. I’m telling you, there are things tucked in the depths of your cupboards and freezer that you have completely forgotten about. And that’s ok! But if you make a list of everything you have in your fridge, freezer, cupboards, and pantry before you go to the grocery store then you have a STARTING POINT. When I did my first kitchen inventory, I was actually shocked at how much food we had that I could have prepared meals with. Making a list of what you have eliminates purchasing doubles, and also inspires meals for the week with a minimal amount of new ingredients needed.
2. WRITE IT DOWN - Whether on a piece of paper or on a spreadsheet, plot out potential meal ideas based on what you already have on hand. Every Sunday night I do a quick kitchen inventory then sit down at my computer and plot breakfasts, lunches, suppers, and snacks onto a spreadsheet based on what’s on my list. After that, I plug in meal ideas that I know we enjoy as a family, then make my shopping list based on what I need to fill those holes.
3. READ THE FLYERS - Ahhh. My dad will be so proud of this one. Before I had a child I never read the flyers (but let’s get real, before I had a child I’d treat myself to a bottle of $75 Champagne “just because”). My dad always has the scoop on the flyers, and once I started meal planning, I began to see how much value they add to my grocery order. Besides weekly specials, the flyers also showcase items on sale that we use frequently, and come on, I looovvvveeee collecting my PC points!
4. DON’T EXPERIMENT TOO MUCH OR TOO FAST - I have a running list of dishes I cook that we enjoy as a family and, over time, I’ve accumulated enough ideas to rotate that it doesn’t feel like we’re eating the same things all the time. Part of my job is writing recipes for clients, so for me, experimenting is definitely required, however, for family meals I like to stick to what I know works, and throw in the odd experiment now and again. You see, sometimes my experiments work and sometimes they don’t. If they work they get added to my meal rotation list but if they don’t work, well, we all know where they end up, and wasted food is NOT GOOD.
5. DOUBLE OR TRIPLE YOUR RECIPES - You may have heard the term batch cooking and batch cooking is what has really saved me. I like to make recipes that have enough leftover to eat for lunch or supper the next day, or that I can freeze and pull out later when I’m in a time crunch. Batch cooking and freezing is a winning combo that saves time and money so that’s a big YES from me!
I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!
If my #TasteTheNewNext tips have helped, or inspired you at all, or, if you have a great tip to share with me, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!! For more great tips check out AtlanticSuperstore.ca/TasteTheNewNext
Disclosure : This post is sponsored by Loblaw and I have received financial compensation and ingredients for the recipe I’ve created. That being said, all views and opinions are my own, and I will never endorse anything that I don’t use or love.