Wednesday, July 23, 2008

the challenges of menu planning (or why I should think before I buy produce at Wal*Mart)

Over at Common Sense with Money, Mercedes was talking about the challenges of meal planning. I do try to do some menu planning, sometimes I have more success than others. I think it really has to do when our life is more quiet. Since I work all week, I prefer to do my shopping on the weekend. Unfortunately, many weekends we are out of town or we have out of town company and then I don't do my normal shopping.

The biggest disappointment is when you do plan your weekly menu and buy produce or other fresh ingredients and they go bad before you make the dish. This doesn't happen often, as I usually plan those things for earlier in the week. Fish on the day I buy it, etc.

Of course, the real problem is when they go bad before they ought to. I should have already learned my lesson about buying produce at the local Wal*Mart store. When they first opened, I bought a head of lettuce and when I cut into the next day, every other layer was brown - it was the grossest thing. Chalking this up to stocking the new store too early, I tried again with a cantaloupe a few weeks later. Low and behold, when I went to cut into it the next day, the whole bottom was soft and mushy. I vowed never to buy produce or fresh products at Wal*Mart (exception is bread from their bakery). Well, as things would have it this weekend, not being in the need for a full shopping trip, I stopped by Wal*Mart to pick up some of the deals featured at The "Cent"sible Sawyer, as well as a few other items that I needed. Since I was there and I knew I was planning to make #54 (a knock off of the local Mexican restuarant's menu item #54, which my husband orders everytime we go out - bacon, chicken, pablano peppers in a Chipotle pepper sauce, served with Pinto Beans, Rice and warm Tortillas), I figured I would save a trip to another store and just pick up a couple of Pablano peppers at Wal*Mart. I figured that with peppers, they are good for a long time. I have bought regular bell peppers and had them in the refrigerator for a week before I cut them, so I figured it was really low risk. This morning, I pulled them out to get at something and noticed all kinds of black spots and mold on them. Yuck! So, of course, now I have peppers that I bought 3 days ago that are rancid and I wind up having to make another store stop at the last minute to make dinner tonight. That is so frustrating!

The only positive in this is that as a pleasant change of pace, I had a very friendly cashier at Wal*Mart. She was pleasant, she didn't seem bothered with my coupons, in fact, she asked where I had found some of the on-line ones and wrote down the websites so that she could find some coupons for herself.