Ideally every one of us would get our schedules for the week together, make a healthy and balanced meal plan and cook at home each night. If you can't sense the sarcasm, I'll lay out that this is impossible. Heck, I live alone (w/ roommate) and I frequently buy things I end up throwing out (hello beets! hang on for one more week!) because I'm unexpectedly not home for dinner a few nights, or sometimes I run out of food on Tuesday aka TOO SOON! I can get home from work ready to tango with some tagliatelle or only eek out the energy to make a PB&B. I am one person, organized to a fault, and I can't even get 1 week together.
I am going to make an effort now to plan ahead a little, but to encourage my budding culinary interest i was enjoying being free from all rules and open to any dinner possibilities was also liberating (and expensive.) Nothing says "I"m Free" like potato chips on Monday and stuffed olives on Wednesday. However freeing it is.... the weak, savings ignorant, and hungry Jen at 5:15pm each day wants cookies and she wants them NOW! I can't contend with that. Maybe planning is the way to go?
In the midst of this internal struggle (to be free or not to be) I made the list above in my day planner. Should I be planning my meals on lunch at work, I have a list of all my spices and dried herbs so I don't overbuy. I can't tell you how (pleasantly) surprised I have been to find that I have coriander (ground AND whole) or cream of tartar and not wasted 3-7 dollars. I also have a firm understanding of my vinegar collection, the status of my flour and sugar supplies, not to mention beans, lentils, rices, and chocolate chips. It helps that I have everything in clear mason jars so I can see at a glance where I'm at.
So, planning well in advance or just hours before I take on the market, I can scan recipes with ease and know what I have at home. It will save you overbuying AND if you know what you have you can go the extra step and choose recipes that use up what you have at home, in other words, it also saves you money! On Monday I bought everything for the Waldorf Salad from last week and the chili that has yet to be made (how's that for failed planning) for $15 - the rest I had at home already!
Pat on the back.