Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Menu Planning 101

 Gone are the days when I was mom to a family of 5 (this included my dad, and my hubby - 2 little girls).  Also, 4 cats (maybe 5), 2 dogs, 2 tank-full of fish and I think... one guinea Pig (who lived for 8 years, ugh).

Add to that houseful... violin lessons (I ran the program), swim team, basketball, Brownies (was a leader), Tae Kwon Do, Catechism, Junior Liturgy (Leader), Drama club, skating lessons, soccer and a full time job.  My kids didn't do all those things at the same time but several of them at least.  I know I am missing some...

I look back and my head spins at what I did with so little time and so many things to do... Plus I sewed, crafted, socialized and went to the gym (in fits and spurts).
One thing that got me through that busy time in my life was menu planning.  We began this practice when I first started to work full time in the early 1990's but by the time my dad moved in with us in 1995, we were menu planning experts.  Even the kids participated in the planning and executing of the menu.

A good friend of mine gave me a great Day Planner in the late 1990's and I started buying that planner for the next 10 years until I started moving out of super busy and into the computer calendar era.  This day planner is still out on the market and it has several spots to plan your week, including a menu column.  I just bought one for Michelle, this Xmas... since she is just starting her roller coaster life of a working & stay home mom!

Every Sunday, our family would brainstorm what would be good to eat for the week, at the same time as reviewing who has what on what night and trying to anticipate what problems we were going to up against for the week.  We managed to eat supper together every night of the week, even if we had an event starting at 6.. we were fed and on the road by 5:45.... and only because we had meals planned and half made before we even got home.

As the kids moved away and my dad was no longer around to anchor us and our meal times, and the evenings were less hectic.  Terry and I became lazy about meal planning and it got harder and harder to get meals done on time and not from a box in the freezer.   We would never have groceries in the house that we needed and we often ate out.  Although, it was fun at first.. we soon realized that this wasn't all it was cracked up to be and we started to plan at least Monday to Thursday each week.

Now that its January, and its a good time to start good habits... Terry and I are going to start a serious Meal Planning routine again.  I went through about 10 years of old day planners to see what it was we liked to eat.  It provided me with some long forgotten favourites but it also made me chuckle...  some weeks we ate exactly what we ate.. the week before.  I can actually remember sitting with the kids to try and think of things to eat.... and the kids would say.. "what did we eat last Tuesday"..  well, if it was spaghetti... we would plug that in on a Thursday the next week.. and we were all relieved to at least have one more menu night done!  Hee hee... a great reason to include the kids in this routine... so they can't really complain about whats' for supper.. since they agreed to it on Sunday!  My list does NOT even include all the recipes in my recipe books, and favorite websites for recipes...  Whew...certainly lots to choice from!

Well, that's it... how we menu plan, and we have been successful for many years.  The menu was done and the grocery list was prepared on Sundays.  Sunday supper was usually leftovers for Monday or Tuesday and groceries were purchased on Monday night.  Quietest night at the grocery store!  It always set us up for a great week in the kitchen at the very least!

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