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I have been menu planning ever since I got married – 18 years ago. I think I first read about menu planning from Emilie Barnes. Within the first 6 months or so of being married we had moved up to the family farm where we drove for 3-4 hours to the shops; shopping became a monthly thing. Menu planning kept me organized and prepared. It gave us variety and made shopping a month in advance a do-able thing. Though I shop weekly now and the shops are just 20minutes away, menu planning is a way of life.
Before I write up my menus I always preview my diary – what nights are we busy, what social commitments have we made? Our night time commitments influence what meals we eat and our afternoon commitments influence what I have time to cook! So it is important that I keep our days in mind before I plan our meals.
I also keep an eye on the contents of my pantry and freezer before I write up my menu. I try and use as much of the food we already have in the house.
Once a week I have a different cook’s helper as my children’s chores get rotated. Each of the children have a main course and a baking recipe that they want to perfect. I ensure that we use this recipe on the week they are my cook’s helper. Often this is Saturday as I have a bit more time to be in the kitchen.
With my menu planning chart I also keep a list of family favourites and vegetarian meals I am trying to introduce into our family. I also try and use a new recipe every so often. I enjoy cooking a variety of meals and I am sure my family enjoys eating a variety. Though we do go through seasons where time is pushed and I revert back to tried and true favourites with no variety at all!
Once I’ve written up my menu for the week, I take note of any preparation that may need doing before hand for a recipe. This is particularly relevant for any raw food recipes I want to use – things may need sprouting, soaking or dehydrating which needs to be done sometimes 2-3 days earlier.
Now I’m ready to write up my shopping list for the week.