Monday, May 16, 2011

In A Food Mood/Top Ten List All In One!

Menu Planning Tips:

1. Have your calendar handy when you're planning. That way you can note the nights you need to be somewhere or have an easy "dinner on the go" planned.

2. Make a grocery list as you plan your menu. Then go shopping. This is why I try to menu plan on the weekends so I can spend the time it takes to do both.

3. When planning your menu, it's best to be in the kitchen so you can hop up and check the pantry and fridge for ingredients you need. No sense buying double.

4. Get out your favorite cookbooks or go to your favorite cooking sites, and start browsing around for recipes that sound good to you. I always love delving into a new cookbook because it provides fresh inspiration.

5. Invest in some cookbooks that will help you prepare easy meals, especially if you tend to avoid cooking. Look for slow cooker cookbooks, cookbooks with five ingredients or less, etc. That way when you sit down to meal plan, you can just go to those and put together some "no-brainer" meals. I haven't met a busy mom yet who doesn't appreciate a no-brainer meal!

6. Plan some desserts while you're at it. My kids love when I surprise them with a special dessert for no particular reason.

7. Have a menu board where you post the week's menu. This makes it easy to check first thing in the morning and see what needs to be put in the crockpot, what needs to be defrosted, etc. Ours is a write on/wipe off board on the side of our fridge. I always chuckle when we have guests over and they sit and read my menu board, remarking on what their faves are.

8. In my opinion, it's easier if you don't assign days to the menu. That way you can just see what's available to make and decide what you feel like making that day. It also gives you room to adjust things when life intervenes, as it surely will.

9. It's good to cook for three nights, then have a leftover night so you can use up the stuff in the fridge and it doesn't go bad. I plan leftover night in my menu. I *love* leftover nights.

10. Instead of looking at menu planning as a chore, think of it as an honor. It's an honor to feed our families. (Especially if you have boys-- I am convinced there's one additional love language, and that's food. When I cook for my boys they see that as an act of love.) It's a gift to be able to have food on the table. When we make that shift in perspective, menu planning becomes less about "have to" and more about "get to."
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Shelly said...

Amen, sista friend, on the "get to."


Brenda said...

That's a great idea about planning a surprise dessert. That's funny about food being a love language for boys - I agree!

Pam said...

I definitely go by #8 too. I do like the freedom to decide what I want to eat for that day instead of assigning a particular meal to a particular day. And #10 struck this mama of boys. I guess I never saw cooking for all my boys as an act of love. But I suppose it is. The old saying goes, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach" - LOL : )

So, I'm anxious to read your next book. When is its expected release? I would love to chat about it on my blog.

Have a wonderful day!

Sweet Blessings~

Kristen said...

Great list today Marybeth! This week we're "shopping our freezer/pantry/fridge" and using what we have before we buy anything new. It's amazing what we have in the house that can make up a healthy, balanced meal. And who couldn't use a week of relief from the grocery bill!

m.e. said...

It took me a long time to learn to enjoy meal planning - well into my 1st kid. Since cooking isn't a great love or passion, my method was to wait until I was hungry and then go stand at the open freezer trying to figure out what to have! Yikes!

I love your ideas and find that I (now) think along those same lines. For many years, I posted my meal lists on paper sheets. Now I use those lists of family approved meals to create my plans. So much easier!