Hello and Welcome!
In the first day of our Waste-Free Kitchen course, we talk about meal planning. But before you dismiss this email as another tedious read on the subject, allow us just a minute to explain that food planning is not what you have come to think it is.
Meal planning is not the boring and incongruous act of planning 3 meals per day for 7 days for n members of your household, who may or may not have special dietary needs or food preferences. Surely, you’ve seen those print-out tables (like the one on the right) ready for you to fill out every Sunday evening, ideally with your whole family involved, so everybody has a say. We wonder what you think of them, but to us, they are a recipe for failure and family frustration.
We’ve been told over and over again that food planning is the vital first step to a waste-free kitchen. But planning food in this traditional way is not only unsubstantial but has become a key driver of food waste in many modern households.
This way was okay when life was slow and predictable, and the family member had no other choice or obligations other than to eat their meals together at home.
But this is just not something that happens anymore. Due to the busy and unpredictable schedules that take a huge time and energy toll on us, we end up buying more than we can prepare, preparing more than we are able to eat, and throwing away way more than we have anticipated throughout the whole process.
So what we need to do is to rethink our approach to food planning. We need an approach that actually works for us and fits into our busy schedules, unpredictable change of plans and our fluctuation in cooking energy and enthusiasm.
Think about the following questions in your mind as you read along:
- Can you predict the number of family meals this week, are there any work/other commitments?
- Are you being realistic about how much needs to be prepared after a long day at work/with the kids etc?
- Will the meal plan you have stuck on the side of the fridge really be used by everyone in the house?
If you’ve given an honest “NO” answer don’t feel bad – just be realistic that you need a more flexible approach to meal planning. What we need is an approach that actually works for us and fits into our schedules, unpredictable change of plans and our fluctuation in cooking energy and enthusiasm.
How Does Flexible, Zero Waste Meal Planning Work?
By using a tech approach to plan your family meals you can start the week with a basic plan – but have the flexibility to move that around as necessary and share the plan with key members of your household to encourage their participation in the shopping and cooking.
Imagine it is workday afternoon.
You have time to think about this week’s meals. You need to go through the food you already have at home or check your cookbook collection for ideas. Ah, but you are not at home; you are in the office.
No worries, CozZo app gives you a real-time snapshot of your fridge and pantry much faster and more precisely than going through the kitchen cupboards or relying on memory. In the app you have already gathered your family’s favorite recipes and by browsing them you can see the matching and any missing ingredients you need.
Decide what to include in your plan for the week or discover new recipes that match your preferences with CozZo’s recipe finder. Missing ingredients can be added to a shopping list.
The second scenario – it’s mid-week.
Your partner is attending a business event and won’t be home for dinner. So it is just you and the kids.
CozZo meal planner shows you that you have leftover chicken pasta, but it won’t spread to serve you all. Without this reminder, the pasta may be forgotten by everyone and gone bad in a few days.
But checking the CozZo app, fridge inventory you see that you have eggs and some parmesan. You also see that the tomatoes are not so fresh but still good for cooking. If you use the leftover pasta and make a fresh tomato frittata, you can skip the grocery tonight. You can head straight home after work, for a quick dinner fix and enough quality time with the kids.
Now think – it is Friday.
You had planned in a delicious “Chilli con carne” for tonight – however, you have a late meeting and you need to delegate the cooking for this evening to a family member – but will they know what needs to be bought and how to cook your favorite recipe?
Well, this is easy with CozZo, you can create your own recipes or modify imported ones to your taste. They are instantly matched to your inventory, just add the missing ingredients to the shopping list with a few taps and set them as urgent. Your partner will be notified that there are products to be bought today.
That’s sorted out!
All family members have access to CozZo’s cookbook and the recipe details page shows the instructions, ingredients, and quantities – so no need for them to keep you on the phone or hunt around on the internet. You have made it so simple for them that there will be no excuse to deviate from the plan!
We have made our meal planner truly versatile with recipe cookbook, food inventory and shopping list integrations. With the ability to plan 2 weeks ahead you will be in control of your meal planning rather than overwhelmed by it.
So that is our take on food planning – simple, straightforward, and most of all, accommodating your lifestyle and schedule not fighting with or against it.
Next, learn why you should Start Keeping an Inventory of Your Pantry