Saturday, August 14, 2010

Menu Planning

People tend to be surprised and usually impressed when I tell them that I plan our weekly menus. But I think they are imaging something fancier and more complicated than it really is. What it does not involve is fussy recipes every night of the week; and certainly not on busy work days.

What it does involve is having our meals figured out to save the stress of coming home at 5:30 PM, hoping to eat by six or shortly after and not having a clue what to make. I went through years of this and we were both sick of the stress.

So before we go grocery shopping every Sunday morning I plan our weekly menu. It starts with what sounds good, what have I been wanting to try or what is currently fresh and in-season. I usually look through our local grocery store's weekly ad and see what strikes me. I then look through my recipes and see what we haven't had for a while. Hopefully at the end I have something designated for each day of the week. I try to do a variety of main entrees and hopefully use up leftovers I may have lurking in the refrigerator in the process.

But make no mistake, it doesn't mean everything is a complicated or fancy dish. Some days might list "leftovers" or "go out to eat" It might also be something incredibly fast and easy like nachos using leftover taco meat. But the point is the plan is there and we can both go to our shared calendar to see what is for dinner.

The benefits are many. The weekly grocery shopping is far more efficient having a plan as opposed to wandering around seeing what looks good, but may not produce meals. I like to think we eat a more balanced diet. Not to mention I am much more likely to make meals, even if I am tired, when they are planned. To me half the battle of weeknight cooking is figuring out what you want to make.

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