‘I’m fed up with food: The chore of meal planning and food shopping’

Jan 09, 2022
Louise finds meal planning and grocery shopping a little bit 'ho hum' after 40 years. Source: Getty Images

January is often the month we attempt a fresh start. This can be done in various ways so that we face the year ahead with new vigour, and full of good intentions.

At the moment, I’m temporarily fed up with food full stop! But that won’t last.

After the excesses of Christmas, this time of year has meant we attempt to revitalise our weekly meal plan in an effort to rev up our nutritional intake, and perhaps drop that kilo or two that might have crept on during last year’s festive season.

I am sure I am not alone in finding the meal planning, food shopping and unpacking a bit of a chore.

Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking and trying out new recipes. It’s the weekly tedium of coming up with meal ideas to suit both my partner and me that has become a little stale over the decades.

I’ve read posts on Pinterest on how to make the shopping side of things fun again. One suggested shopping with your partner. Ha! Whoever wrote that article definitely has not met my partner … The quicker we are in and out of any shopping environment the better, and the experience is certainly not ‘fun’.

Actually, the worst part of the whole thing for me is lugging shopping bags out of the car boot and putting everything away. Whether it’s from the supermarket or farmer’s market, it all needs unpacking!

Yet, there is not always help on-hand to unpack, and once kids have moved out, or we live alone, it falls on us to manage. I guess at least it is a mild form of exercise, although one I would gladly live without.

How do we all feel about meal planning now, in our 60s and beyond? I remember the great excitement of setting up a ‘home’ in my 20s and everything was fresh and new. Four decades on, it’s harder to get excited about a mid-week supper.

In our household, we have a meal routine, which helps with the planning.

Mondays are meatballs of various varieties or Shepherd’s pie (let’s just say something made with mince).

Tuesday is pasta (fresh, packet, home-made depending on the enthusiasm of the cook on the day). Often meat-free.

Wednesday’s meat and vegetables (usually chops, sometimes run to steak).

Thursday’s poultry (bit stuck on a Curtis Stone recipe at the moment with a Japanese twist).

On Fridays we have fish (could be sad frozen packet breadcrumbed fish, or beautiful fresh salmon, whiting, scallops or even oysters depending on the season and what we feel like).

Saturday is our Treat Meal. This may entail me attempting to recreate a recipe from a book, magazine, website or food show. Otherwise, we order takeaway!

Sunday’s is Roast Day, just in case the kids want to come round. Usually meat-based, but sometimes vegetarian. My eldest has been vegetarian since they were seven years old (another story), so I have learned a few decent vegetable recipes over the years. I still cook family-sized portions, but that means lots of food for the freezer and easy re-heating for simple supper nights during the week.

The upside of planning

One of my favourite things to do, is browsing through cookery books. I’m a little bit ashamed to say I possibly have around 50 of them.

I’m a little bit more ashamed to say, I’ve probably only cooked a handful of recipes from them.

Apart from Edmonds Cookery Book, which my mother-in-law gave me in my 20s and has produced some firm family favourites over the years. (It was rather obligatory to learn from, but grateful now for some good basics from that book.)

My other, not so secret vice is watching cooking shows.

‘Not another food show’ is the sad lament ringing around our house on most days from the partner. However, as his favoured viewing is sport on every channel (every and any sport) I take little notice.

Some great meal ideas are found online. I’ve also noticed that Starts at 60 delivers simple daily ideas that won’t break the bank.

It is worth attempting to get a good variety of food groups into our diets, now we know that a varied gut microbiome is a primary source of good health. Plus, as our appetites are generally smaller as we age, what we eat in our older years deserves some special attention for maintaining healthy bodies and minds. So some thought over your weekly nutrition is worthwhile.

If meal planning and/or cooking is not your thing, there are multiple meal delivery services frequently advertised on tv, and I know of people who have found them fantastic. Some have good discounts for seniors making them more affordable.

One particular family member of mine, who suddenly found himself solo and never having cooked a meal in his life, started using a food meal delivery service and lost 10kg in the process. It goes to show what can happen when we start eating well and taking care of what we put in our mouths. It’s a possible option to consider too. No meal planning required

Supermarket home deliveries are good for when it’s hard to get to the shops through lack of transport or mobility and the websites often have meal ideas.

It’s also worth keeping a good variety of tinned and packet foods in the cupboard for those times it’s hard to get out and useful for budgeting with their long shelf life and often reasonable price tags.

What do you have planned for meals this week? Is meal planning fun for you?

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