I posted about how I do meal planning here. I think it would be very difficult to plan a daily or weekly meal plan when I live rural. As I said a few days ago I do try to keep my pantry stocked so we could make most of what is on our meal plan list. Sometimes before we do major shopping I write on the list ingredients to make a few new recipes. Sometimes we like those recipes and they end up on our meal plan. Sometimes we just enjoy having a different meal once and don't put them on the meal plan.
I want to encourage you if you live rural to buy/put on your wish list for birthdays/Christmas nice equipment for your kitchen. I cook much more often living rural than I would if I lived in a bigger city. I can't order take out and have it delivered. I'm not going to make an extra trip into town to go pick up a pizza. Ram's mom has been generous with stocking our kitchen for our birthdays and Christmas gifts each year since we were married. We have purchased some items ourselves. They almost became necessities because we cook so often. Some of the necessities to me: A few nice pots and pans in different sizes, we started out with an electric griddle which we just replaced with a cast iron griddle that goes on top of the stove, breadmaker, yogurt maker (yogurt could also be made in the crockpot), crockpot, mixer, blender, food processor, nice knives, popcorn popper, Pyrex in several sizes for serving and storing, and wafflemaker. We were given an ice cream maker and although it is not a necessity, we really like homemade ice cream!
Something else that I have recently started is trying to make some things homemade instead of buying so many premade items. At New Year's we were out of cocktail sauce for our shrimp so I made my own. It only took a few ingredients and it tasted better and wasn't full of salt like a bottle from the store. I've also started making salad dressing homemade. This accomplishes a few things-I don't have to keep so many bottles of different items in my pantry and worry that they may expire before I use them. I don't have to worry about HFCS or salt in my homemade items. I can make a small amount fresh for each time we have salad. Most recipes only take a few items and don't take long to whip up. And they taste really good! I wanted to make homemade ketchup last summer but we didn't have enough tomatoes. I do make jam a few times each summer. It isn't as complicated as it sounds. I try to make granola instead of buying packaged cereal. We still buy some items premade (mustard, mayo, etc.) as I just can't make everything homemade. But the things we do make homemade have helped us to eat healthier, helped with the grocery budget, and made it easier to stock the pantry out here.
We make our own bread in the breadmaker, I try to always have eggs in the fridge, because Lamb 1 had to eat dairy free we started stocking rice milk, and we try to have a full pantry. Because of this, when there is a storm predicted, we rarely run to town to get supplies. Sometimes we can't make what we would prefer to have because we're out of an ingredient, but there are plenty of other choices.
Each week we try to make bread, yogurt, granola, and ice cream. We often make homemade dips like black bean dip and hummus and spinach dip. I don't know if it is better to make everything in one or two days a week (have a big cooking day) or to make one or two each day. We have done it both ways. I'm blessed because Ram often makes our bread and always makes our yogurt. Sometimes we don't get everything made homemade that we would like. We either do without or (gasp!) buy it from the store.
On the rare occasions that I do get to a restaurant, I study the menu pretty closely. I look at it for ideas of recipes we could make at home. I especially like to pay attention to what ingredients they put in salads. A salad tastes completely different with a few different ingredients. I also try to order something that would be pretty difficult to make at home (or takes expensive ingredients) because this is my chance to have something that I can't have at home.
I would encourage you if you live rural to start making more things homemade and to start building up your kitchen to be stocked with nice equipment. We have lived here almost 8 years and it is a gradual process. I gradually tried new recipes and added in more homemade items to make. We gradually got as gifts or bought our kitchen equipment.
Do you have anything to add about cooking when you live in a rural place?
Check back tomorrow for another practical tip for living in a rural place.