Planning Ahead: The Greenest Skill of All?
By Sami Grover
Unlike my beautiful wife, I'm not typically the most organized person in the world. I'm not a natural list maker. I have trouble keeping my appointments updated. But I am begrudgingly coming to accept that planning ahead is often one of the greenest things you can do.
From writing a shopping list (and sticking to it!), to stockpiling food like the mormons, to consolidating trips away from home, to making gardening convenient, to avoiding seed catalog overspend, by really thinking through what you need to do and when, you can not only save yourself a lot of aggravation, time and money, but you can also be more energy and resource efficient.
Take this week's menu at our house, for example. We had a freezer full of chicken and turkey bones from Thanksgiving, so it was time to make broth. We also knew we had a fresh ham coming from a friend who raises pigs. So we based our weekly menu around that - Sunday was a gigantic chille-brined pork roast, with friends, including homemade gravy (with the chicken broth). Monday saw us creating burritos with baked sweet potato, and a spiced pork and black-bean filling, moistened with the leftover gravy, some lime juice, and cilantro.
By Tuesday we knew we were going to be a little porked out, so we took a break. But tonight we're having split pea soup, flavored with the ham bones, and spiked with the homemade chicken broth. (We'll also be using up the last of the cream that was used int he desert on Sunday...)
So I'm learning. Planning ahead is not rocket science. For those of us to whom it doesn't come naturally, it's best to start small--shop weekly for groceries, and include a few easy meals that will keep. That way you have some flexibility in your weekly menu. When car-pooling or consolidating trips, set yourself up to succeed by keeping a list of the errands that need running, and liaising with other family members on who is going to do them.
I'm definitely planning on more planning. My wife will be so proud...