I made you a meal plan

I made you a meal plan

A few weeks ago, as I was being shaken down at the grocery store for all I’m worth for the egg tray, a woman next to me gasped as she looked at the prices. We all try to fight sky-high costsand meal planning can save you from impulse buying and food waste.

But meal planning isn’t always intuitive.

That’s why I’ve chosen three simple recipes to illustrate how you could go about it: quick white bean and celery ragouta delicious celery leek soup and a creamy, onion-like paste. Each serves a minimum of four and a maximum of eight (hello, leftovers!), and two can be made vegan (just skip the optional dairy topping). Here’s the relatively budget-friendly shopping list:

1 head of garlic
2 large leeks
1 bunch of spring onions
1 bunch of parsley
2 lemons
1 very large bunch celery (just over a pound)
1 russet potato
2 medium zucchini
1 small cup of crème fraîche
Parmesan cheese (a small cube or small container will do)
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans
1 small jar of store-bought pesto (optional)
2 (32-ounce) boxes of vegetable stock
1 pound long noodles, such as linguine or spaghetti
Bread (to serve, only if you like)

I’m guessing you already have salt, black pepper, and olive oil in the pantry, and it’s quite possible you also have dried bay leaves and dried thyme on hand. If not, add them to the list!

There are two main strategies I use when trying to create a meal plan and a stripped-down shopping list:

1. Watch out for overlapping ingredients. Using leftover ingredients from one recipe in another dish with a distinct flavor profile is essential. You have exactly 1 cup of the celery leek soup vegetable stock, and that is exactly the amount you need for the ragout. And any parsley left over from the soup and beans also makes a great garnish on the pasta.

I find this approach most useful when the overlap is with, say, “bundled” products celery or spring onionsor baking dairy that I don’t cook with on a daily basis, such as creme fraiche. Ideally, you’d buy fewer short-shelf products and use your pantry to replenish flavors and textures.

2. Make smart substitutions. Sometimes life gets in the way of making a recipe exactly as written. Using dried bay leaves and thyme instead of fresh in the celery leek soup can be more economical.

Some swaps may not be so obvious. To avoid having to buy a bottle of pinot grigio for one dish, just use 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of water to replace the acidity of the ¼ cup of dry white wine in the celery-leek soup (a tip from the developer, Alexa Weibel). And even though “chives” are in the name of the pasta recipe, you can make it with the Spring onion leftover ragout. New York Times Cooking commentators who struggled to find fresh chives swear by it! Ali Slagle recommends using a slightly smaller amount of sliced ​​scallions than chives, and you can add the white parts in step 2 alongside the pasta water to soften them up.

Go to the recipe.

Did you happen to buy a bunch of celery with lots of leaves? You are lucky! Not only should you use them to garnish the ragout, but they are also a key element in a really great non-alcoholic drink.

To create the foundation for Rebekah Peppler’s complex, vegetable celery sour mocktail – my favorite drink to have at home – steep 1 cup celery leaves and the remaining parsley leaves in a simple syrup spiked with black peppercorns and allspice. I prepare this mixture every time I buy celery now. And while the complete cocktail is divine, I often mix the syrup with just seltzer and a little lime juice for an even fluffier drink.

Cheers! See you next week.

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