Monday, June 2, 2014

Day Two: Plan Ahead (But Not Too Far)

The beginnings of pumpkin soup

I love the idea of menu planning a week or more in advance, but just can’t seem to put it into practice.  So I focus on the next 24 hours of meals.  This gives me a chance to get meat out of the freezer for tomorrow night (or buy some), make sure I have the fruit and vegetables and any extra ingredients I need, and fit in times for food preparation.

More times than I care to count I have arrived at noon with a fridge full of salad vegetables (whole, unwashed and in bags) and a rumbling belly and not wanting to wait the time it takes to wash and chop.  If I can get organised enough to tear, soak and spin the lettuce ahead of time that’s a big help, but when I make little containers of salad in my beloved Tupperware or Gladware containers that’s even better.

It is a thing of beauty to open the fridge door and take out your own home-prepared ‘fast food’, tip it into a bowl, adorn with a yummy dressing and enjoy an ‘instant’ lunch.  Plus, everything is extra crispy having been washed and then chilled.  More so than when you chop and eat straight away.

I have even gone one step further than I used to and added the grated cheese/diced cooked chicken etc.  A sprinkle of grated cheese is such a divine treat on my salad.  I got the idea from Subway, but my salads are much nicer than theirs and much, much less expensive.  The final steps are avocado which can only be done just before, and tomato which is nicer out of the fridge.

I even eat salad in the winter, but I start with a bowl of soup first.  I made pumpkin soup this week and it’s so nice to start off with a hot bowl and then move onto a refreshing salad.

Breakfast and dinner are faster to prepare.  It doesn’t take much time to chop a bowl of fruit, or prepare the broccoli/carrots/pumpkin/beans that are to go with the main part of our meal.

Thinking 24 hours ahead also allows me to stop at the supermarket when I am out somewhere already, rather than make a special trip which uses petrol and my precious free time.

I feel like I’m really making the most of the money and time that I have available to me when I dream up and prepare my healthy and delicious daily meals in a stress-free way, and that makes me very happy.


  1. I do plan a week ahead: Mon is Roast night (my day off), Tuesday fish, Weds a curried veg w pulses, Thurs a risotto, Fri a dish from the freezer. I ring the changes with vegies and spices.

    I agree about salads. A trick I've learned is to toast a tray of seeds -- sesame, poppy, etc -- tip them in a jar and add them to my lunchtime salad at the last moment. They give a nice crunch as well as a healthy boost.

  2. Bonjour ! I'm so glad you're back and I just realised I wasn't a member of your blog so please welcome your new follower from Paris ! Merci pour les conseils et à bientôt !

  3. Bonjour, Fiona! I am glad that you started your 30 Chic Days again. It inspires me to start my own 30 chic days :). I know that I need some more structure and discipline in my life.
    Regards, Maria

  4. I love having salads ready to go. For me, that means pan-roasting six boneless chicken breast in olive oil (salt and pepper the meat, that's all) and having them ready in the fridge to be sliced and tossed with the salad. Also: homemade vinaigrettes in a jar (two usually: a Dijon vinaigrette and a balsamic vinaigrette), seeds or nuts, dried cranberries, goat cheese ready to crumble, and either homemade bread crumbs on top (which I make en masse a few times a year and keep in the freezer) or homemade croutons (a few slices of rustic bread, torn into pieces and quickly cooked in a little olive oil with salt and pepper).

    One thing that has changed the way I do salads is to put the vinaigrette in the bottom of my big bowl FIRST, then add the big, heavy stuff (like chicken, vegetables, whatever), mix it up, then add nuts/cranberries, mix, then add anything sort of tender like goat cheese or avocado slices, mix, AND THEN finally add handfuls of salad greens and mix. David Lebovitz wrote about it a few months ago, and what a difference. Everything gets an even sheen of vinaigrette, you use less of it, and it's just easier to manage than going in reverse.

    Then you just dish it out onto your serving plate, sprinkle with bread crumbs or croutons, and done!

    I love having chicken ready to go.


  5. Please share the pumpkin soup recipe. I notice you use a lot of pumpkin in your cooking. Is this fresh pumpkin? I only really see them around Halloween.

  6. Thanks very much Rose and Marsi for your delicious sounding salad ideas. I will try both.

    Anonymous, I do use a bit of pumpkin, as well as carrot instead of potato as they are lower carb. In Weight Watchers world, carrot and potato are free, whereas potato and kumera (sweet potato) cost you.

    My pumpkin soup recipe starts with onion and celery fried in butter and/or olive oil. Add cubed pumpkin and stock/hot water then simmer until the pumpkin is cooked. Blend until smooth with an immersion blender or in an actual blender. Enjoy! So simple.


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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