05 April 2008

Tips - Menu Planning

One of the things I gained from Flylady (http://www.flylady.net/) was an introduction to Leanne Ely. Leanne runs a website called Saving Dinner (http://www.savingdinner.com/).

Leanne writes and sells menus. Not restraurant menus, but every day cooking menus for busy families. The basic deal is: you sign up for a particular menu; every week you receive an email with 6 recipes and a shopping list. The recipes are all very easy, very quick, and mostly wonderful. In 12 months we had maybe 2 or 3 we won't be eating again. Probably about half a dozen dishes are repeated in a 12 month period. Although Leanne is Amercia based she has available menus for the southern hemisphere so produce is fresh and the dishes are suited to the weather (no hot soups in summer).

I saved all my menus, and we're about start our third year using them. Because there are so few repeats we never get bored; and as we've gone through them again I've removed dishes and vegetables we haven't enjoyed and substituted some old favourites.

It is possible to do this at home and not pay someone else to do it. I tried, but being who I am it would take me a whole day every week to plan a menu and shopping list. I even tried using various bits of software. In the end I decided it just wasn't for me, and paid Leanne for her menus. One thing that worked for longer than the others was to write all our favourite dishes on index cards. At the beginning of each week I'd close my eyes and pull out 6 cards - and that's what I'd shop for and cook during the week.

Here's the advantages of having a menu for the week:
  • No more looking in the fridge and thinking "what's for dinner"?
  • No more going to cook something only find you're missing the vital ingredient
  • No more spending too much at the grocery store 'cause you're buying stuff "just in case"
  • If the main cook is running late everyone knows what's for dinner and they can start on it
Basically, having a menu planned eliminates the stress of dinner - particularly if all the cooks are also busy people (and who isn't)!

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