What is Operation Jam Jar?

Operation Jam Jar is all about getting back to basics in the kitchen.

Check out my efforts at cooking from scratch - cakes, soups, biscuits

Learn how to make things that you would normally buy at the supermarket - wraps, ice cream, pizza bases

Try to live a more 'country' lifestyle in the city - making your own jams or relish

Get the skills to enjoy cooking in a thrifty way, and have a bit of fun while you do it

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The old me

In the past I would drive home from work with a feeling of dread knowing that I had no idea what I was going to cook for dinner. I used to go to the supermarket, buy what I thought I needed (& loads of things I didn't need, like Cheezels) and head home. I was doing this 4-5 times per week. Sometimes I would get home and realise that I already had some of the ingredients in the fridge. Or that I had forgotten a crucial ingredient. Or that I was so sick of chicken stir fry I wanted to cry.
Most of what my husband and I ate was fine, just a bit uninspired. So I started collecting a few recipes to try a few new things. I went to the library and borrowed a few cook books & that's when I found some books about getting organised in the kitchen.
The message was the same in most of these - plan ahead to save time and money. But I couldn't be bothered! I was busy! And tired! And why should I? I could afford to keep going the way I was. But to be honest all of those LIfestyle Food programs were getting to me. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his River Cottage had got me thinking about food and our disconnection with it. And it made me feel kind of gross about the amount of food I was buying and wasting each week.
So the first week I put together a plan for what we were going to eat for dinner each night (& have leftovers for lunch). It looked something like this:
Monday - spaghetti bolognese
Tuesday - lamb curry
Wednesday - chicken burritos
Thursday - vege burgers
I didn't plan at that stage for the weekend as I wasn't sure what we would be doing.
Having this plan meant I could make a quick shopping list (something I never used to do) and head to the supermarket. That first time buying groceries with a list and knowing what I was going to make was really exciting, and I spent about $25 less than I usually did.
It also means that you can pre-plan to ensure you eat a variety of food (not chicken 5x per week which used to be me). I usually try to have 1 beef night, 1 chicken night, 1 vege night, 1 lamb night etc. At the moment with this cold weather I'm often including 1 soup night.
Now I plan our meals every week, stock up on meat when it's on sale, and never have those icky feelings on my way home anymore. When I say goodbye to my husband in the morning we talk about how much we look forward to whatever we are having that night (how nerdy is that). It makes you feel very organised and efficient - I can't recommend it enough!
If you're not already doing this, try it next week and see how you go

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