meal planning

Soup's On

The weather this winter has been one for the record books, hasn't it?  Each week has offered multiple storms and weather systems, one meteorologically (is that a word?) more complex than the other.  I heard in one recent news report that there was snow somewhere in each state in the country with the exception of Hawaii.  I've had it with the snow, ice, freezing temperatures, lousy driving conditions and winter weather advisories.

And yet, this is the perfect weather for soup.

Soup is one of my favorite meals to make.   There was a time though, when it was my worse one.  No matter which recipe I followed and no matter the ingredients, it always ended up tasting like little more than slightly flavored water - bor-ing.  When I upped my game and used store-bought broth, it tasted like salt-flavored water.  I wrote off making homemade soup for a very long time and resorted to the canned variety.  Loaded with salt, to be sure, but certainly better than anything I'd been able to come up with. Then, I discovered the secret; and it's not a secret at all - make your own stock and use that as the base. 

So now when I make soup, it's almost an event, and has become one of my family's favorite meals.  Of course, it begins with the carcass of the oven roasted chicken cooked for dinner the day before.  Which was chosen as one of the week's meals while preparing my grocery list.  Which is written in the same order as the grocery store aisles are arranged. You see where I'm going with this, don't you?  And yes, I unload my grocery cart onto the check-out conveyor belt according to how the items will be put away at home:  freezer items, produce, dry foods, cleaning products, paper goods, etc.  I've been organizing my grocery shopping trips this way for as long as I can remember, and never really gave it much thought.  There was no secret formula; it's just the way I did it.  So why it took me so long to discover the secret to making good soup, I don't know.  All I needed to do was open any cookbook to find this out, and having watched my mother all my life prepare homemade meal after homemade meal, I should not have struggled and served such yucky soup for as long as I did.

What comes naturally to some, of course, doesn't come naturally to others.  We all have our special ways of doing things and can certainly learn from each other.  Organizing is one of those things.  During a recent time management class, grocery shopping was used as an example - the meal planning, the list, the arrangement of bagged goods.  The young ladies in the class (participating in preparation of entering the workforce) were astounded to learn how much impact a seemingly simple trip to the grocery store could have and how they could be completely in control of it.

A little planning, a few secrets unfolded, and before you know it - soup's on!