Cooking for the big feast? Save time later in the season by doubling-up on any side dishes that can be frozen for later use. Freezer-friendly recipes like Garlic Mashed Potatoes means you'll cook once, eat twice … and save time and stress!
What's for dinner? It's the question of the hour!
Too many home managers look for answers in the supermarket at 5 p.m. Harried from the day's work and harassed by by hungry children, they rack their brains for an answer to the what's-for-dinner dilemma.
Three meals a day. Seven dinners a week. From supermarket to pantry, refrigerator to table, sink to cupboard, the kitchen routine can get old, old, old.
No wonder we hide our heads like ostriches from the plain and simple fact: into each day, one dinner must fall. What's the answer? A menu plan.
Menu planning doesn't have be complicated! Planning meals ahead requires a small investment of time, but can reap great rewards:
Follow these tips to put the power of menu and meal planning to work for you:
For too many of us, making a menu plan is something we intend to do . . . when we get around to it. Instead of seeing menu planning as an activity that adds to our quality of life, we dread sitting down to decide next Thursday's dinner. "I'll do that next week, when I'm more organized."
Wrong! Menu planning is the first line of defense in the fight to an organized kitchen, not the cherry on the icing on the cake.
Take the vow. "I, [state your name], hereby promise not to visit the supermarket again until I've made a menu plan!"
Still muttering, "But I don't wanna ..."? Break into menu planning easily by starting small and simple.
Think, "next week." Seven little dinners, one trip to the supermarket. Sure, it's fun to think about indexing your recipe collection, entering the data in a database and crunching menus till the year 2015, but resist the urge.
Slow and steady builds menu planning skills and shows the benefits of the exercise. Elaborate hoo-rah becomes just another failed exercise in home management overkill.
Where to start? The food flyers from your local newspaper, or sales circulars from your markets' Web sites. You'll use the ads to get a feel for the week's sales and bargains. They'll be the basis for the week's selection of dinners.
This week in my hometown, two local chain supermarkets are offering whole fryers for the low, low price of 99 cents a pound. Clearly, this is the week for Ginger Chicken and Fajitas, not a time to dream about Beef Stew and Grilled Pork.
Okay, it's food ad day. Time to rough out a simple menu plan.
The goal is two-fold: shop efficiently to obtain food required for seven dinner meals, while minimizing expenditure, cooking, shopping and cleaning time. Here's the overview of the process:
That's it! The bare bones of menu planning.
You've made a draft plan, shopped from a list, retained flexibility in the marketplace, firmed up your plan and held yourself accountable.
The devil, however, is in the details! Use the pager links below for some points to ponder as you bring menu planning under control.