The system can be broken down into two modules:
- recipe gathering
- ingredient gathering
Let's start with recipe gathering.
I spend a faaaair bit of time (much more than I care to admit) browsing food blogs and sites and have a low threshold of becoming interested in a recipe. This led to hundreds of recipes in my Instapaper account...that I never touched.
So now I have 3 levels of filters in place:
- Anything that seems interesting gets saved to Instapaper, with desserts saved in a separate folder because they are my weakness even in recipe form.
- Whenever I feel like (can vary from monthly to annually), I'll sort through the Instapaper folder and import anything that I am likely to make into Evernote, again splitting off desserts into its own notebook. My criteria for practical is roughly: ingredients that are not a pain to obtain, doesn't require specialty equipment, will taste good as leftovers. Bonus criteria for desserts: doesn't result in orphane egg yolks or whites, a huge pet peeve of mine. Recipes that don't make the cut are deleted, or I'll just let it sit in Instapaper if it's a high effort recipe for when I feel keen. In Evernote, I'll tag the recipe with its ingredients for easy search.
- Either weekly or monthly, I'll go through Evernote and write down any recipes that especially interest me in Notes app. Notes is seriously my favourite part of the Apple ecosystem because I need to do absolutely nothing for it to sync on my phone and computer. Now it even supports checklists for easy grocery shopping (though to be fair, this feature should've been there looong ago).
This conveniently transitions into ingredient gathering.
This is a much simpler process, I'll go through the weekly flyer of every grocery store that I can go to, and note down any good deals on ingredients that I use frequently and/or need for that week's interesting recipes. Then I go grocery shopping while listening to my cooking podcasts (y).
Although I described the recipe gathering process first, and so it seems that the system is sequential, what I end up cooking is much more driven by what's on sale because $$$. I still can't get over how cheap I got walnuts at Sprouts last weekend, which means I'm going to be happily eating granola for breakfast for the forseeable future. If there's a non-standard ingredient that I buy (eg. sour cream), I'll also note down other recipes to make in the near future to use up the remaining ingredient.
I'm also thankful for my mom for training me to not mind eating the same thing for an entire week. Or even small variations of the same thing for weeks, like when she made fried rice for one week, and fried noodles the next. This makes meal prep super easy for me since I can make a double batch, freeze half, and just heat up individual portions everyday. Honestly I don't have the energy to do much more than that on most days after I get home from work. Though I'm going back to my frosh habit of showering right after I get home to beat that slump.