I realize I’m probably a rare specimen within the human race when I say that I draw up a weekly menu before the weekend trek to the market and grocery store. Then I make up a grocery list based on what’s needed for the menu that I don’t already have in cupboards, fridge, freezer or garden.

This week's menu.

This week’s menu.

Our mothers used to do this. My mom would even organize her list, grouping items according to which aisle they were in at the store. So that’s what I do, too. Mom’s list was on paper, whereas I usually type it all up with Evernote on my laptop and then sync it so I have the list on my smartphone as I head out the door. But otherwise, it’s the same idea.

This common practice has largely fallen prey to the breakneck pace of life in the new millennium. Lots of people rush in and out of the grocery story several times a week, often grabbing quick, convenient frozen or packaged food in a desperate attempt to get their families fed. Or they swing by the drive-through to get little Johnny a burger before taking him to trot around a field for an hour of soccer practice – oh, the irony.

I refuse to give in to that madness. If there are frozen dinners in our fridge, it’s because I made dinners and froze them. None of this salty crap in boxes, thanks very much.

Does it take effort? Sure it does. And some organization and flexibility. Because there’s always something coming up to change my menu plan. A hockey game gets added to the schedule and bam – I can’t make that saucy minute steak I’ve been wanting to make because we need something faster. And into the deep freeze I go for a bag of chili.

Saucy minute steak with root mash up. Yum.

Saucy minute steak with root mash up. Yum.

But this week, I finally got to make that saucy minute steak with a root mash up recipe I’d found in Chatelaine in November. It was delicious. I didn’t have grape or black current jelly so I used some cranberry jam that a friend gave me for Christmas. The result was naturally more tart than the recipe intended, but very tasty nonetheless.

So you see? The best laid plans can work out, if you keep trying.

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