Saturday, July 2, 2011

Menu Planning Introduction

“What’s for Dinner?” A simple question that provokes frustration if asked at 5:00 and the answer is unknown. There are some days, I would be content to have a bowl of cereal and call it a meal. However, one of the blessings of having a family is gathering together for a nutritious and delicious meal after the workday is completed. However, most afternoons, I am working on a project or running errands, and my work is not finished when it is time to start preparing dinner. So it really helps me to have a plan, to know in advance what I am going to make. Though I like flexibility to change the plan based on what we feel like eating, the available prep time, and even the weather (rain almost always calls for soup in our home).
My menu plans loosely cover a month with about twenty dinner ideas. I do not pre-assign specific dates for each meal, nor do I plan the entire month. This gives us flexibility to include other meal choices and leftovers as part of family dinners. To make this work, I keep a well-stocked pantry and I decide in the morning what we will be having for dinner. Choosing dinner in the morning allows time for thawing frozen foods, picking up perishables from the market, or prepping food in advance such as marinating or chopping.
There are several different methods of menu planning with pros and cons to each. Under the Kitchen Tab in the navigation bar, I describe the different methods of menu planning focusing primarily on dinner, though the principle applies to all the meals. Personally, I use a hybrid method of several planning techniques. Feel free to leave comments to share your menu planning ideas. Bon appetite!

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