It's not complicated unless you make it that way. Like any endeavor, whether it be a career goal, an exercise regime or travel plan; winging it will not get you the same results as when you plan and prepare. I don't mean perfection or having a huge attachment to the exact outcome, but simply organizing things to put you on the right path and allowing a little flexibility for whatever comes up. Life is like that right?
What I am really talking about is how your mindset with an action plan can make all the difference. Here are some basic tips from my own experience that I have found helpful.
I like to have an idea what my week will look like before I shop.
Make a list of what you plan to prepare and the time required. If Wednesday's are yoga class night or the kids soccer practice, then plan that meal with a quick timeline or perhaps you prepare a part of it before heading out.
If weekends or days off are your most productive time, plan to prep a few meals ahead for freezer. I like to do my baking or soups and stocks in that time and this is where I would use some leftovers. Make it fun and take the chore out of it. I make Saturday mornings my farmers market outing by adding a meet up with a friend for coffee, or perhaps bring my daughter along and stop at the bakery for a treat after.
If you are trying out a new recipe, pick a time when you are not stressed or tired.
Talk to someone who has inspired you and ask for advice. These people love to share. Trust me I know this person. Plan to have leftovers. This is huge and it saves time later. Extra rice, pasta or grains make a quick meal another day. Roasted veggies, grilled meats or sauces can be added to soups, stews, salads, egg dishes and this is a great way to reduce waste. You can freeze portions too.
Plan a potluck. This doesn't mean you always have to host. You can meet up for a picnic in the park or at the beach; or maybe you take turns with family and friends as host. Here you are only responsible for one part of the meal and changing things up is a good thing, not to mention less clean up as potlucks are more like a team effort. Get together with a sister, friend or neighbor and double up. Prepare something together, split the cost of ingredients and make more to take home for freezer while getting a visit in at the same time.
Bottom line, food is meant to be enjoyed. Savor the taste and connect with the experience. Find the joy, talk with the local farmers, the butcher the baker and buy those fresh flowers. Set the table with cloth napkins and use the good dishware. It's worth the Thyme it takes.
Be well and ENJOY!