Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Why plan a menu at all? Why bother knowing in advance what you are going to be eating. Many of us do not have the time to do that and come back from work, rushed, in stress mode, delivering a quick meal ad hoc depending on what is available in the house. Sometimes we even do not know what is available in the house and rush to the shops before going home. Or pay for a take away. Stop, be still and regroup.

Weekly planning of your menu and shopping list will save you time, effort and stress.
Our shopping day is Tuesday because that makes sense from a transport point of view, we can share while DH does something else. Sunday nights, we sit down together and look at the calendar and what that means with regards to meals. No point cooking at length if you have to be out of the door at 6.30 pm to take the kids somewhere. Based on the busy schedule, I plan the meals and ask the children to put up menu suggestions on the fridge ( on a post it note) so I can take their preferences into account. I cannot always do this as it depends on what their choices are. This week they wanted to have a farmers breakfast, pizza, apples and grapes,profiteroles. Some things I can do, others I cannot. The reason for giving them a choice is simple, not only do they gain from planning a menu with us, they will then proceed to work on the menu with me, do the shopping and eventually learn to prepare the meals. Not all at once but gradually and age appropriate. My youngest is 7 and can prepare fruit for example. I know, I cringe too at the idea of the time it takes to help them evolve their skills. Kneejerk reaction is probably that it will take long but in the long term with compound interest principles, my time commitment now is going to pay dividends. Hopefully they will make sense of planning a menu, how to shop, where to shop, how to prepare a meal and how to clean up. That has to be worth some time investment versus the running about in a stress.

I sit down and make my shopping list based on what is in the house ( before it goes off and I need to deal with it as waste), what I need and also what needs replenishing. During the week, when I run out of things or nearly run out, I make a note on a post it pad on the fridge as I go along and then making the list saves time.

Spending some time organising your food menu and shopping list will save you time, money and waste. I have managed to cut my bill by 50% and am still working on it. I know I would rather save the money as earning it can be more difficult.

Cooking a larger amount of some meals can provide you with some convience meals when time really is short. Our standby is chili con carne ( just need to make rice), spaghetti bolognaise ( time to boil pasta) and soup with bread rolls. Give some thought to making time to create relaxed food, look at it as a pleasure and leisure activity and put some love in it. That has got to pay off in the long term.

I would frankly much rather relax than rush about these days.

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