“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.”
Wonderfully said! To slightly modify, a human being should not only cook a tasty meal, but also do the meal planning well in advance!
You know exactly what you are going to cook on any given day and that itself is the biggest advantage of menu planning. You may refer to the cook books or take the help of the Google search and collect menus, segregating and allotting them to different dates in advance.
Some general tips to help you in menu planning for a successful cooking management:
1. Choices of family members: When you decide on the menu, you should take into account the age group of the people at your home, diet or disease constraints in their food consumption, the probability of religious fasting in the family, frequency of meal intakes and the likelihood of the arrival of any guests during the period. All these factors directly affect your menu planning.
2. Duration: Decide on the period of menu planning; whether it is for a week or for a couple of weeks or more.
3. Do Research: Google for various recipes and select those suitable for your purpose out of the innumerable choices available on the net.
4. Make the List: Once you have planned your menu, keep the list readily available for ready reference. You may keep it in the kitchen shelf, pin it on the fridge door or on the notice board, and keep it anywhere that is easily accessible for your ready reference.
5. Variety and Variations: Variety is the spice of not only your life but also of your meals. Bring in a variety in your meals to satisfy both the appetite and the nourishment requirement of your family. Even the left over food should be used in a unique way.
6. Shop in Bulk: Whatever the missing ingredients are at home should be compensated by shopping in bulk for the entire period of menu planning. It shall also save your costs and help in your budgeting.
7. Nutritious Food: You should include various colours of fruits and vegetables, milk and milk products, whole grains, pulses and cereals and other food ingredients that would help in maintaining the energy levels of your family; that would help in the growth and the body building requirements of your family; all the more, it should help in maintaining the good health and well being of your family.
8. Seasons: While selecting the recipe, always remember the season of the year and the availability factor of the fruits and vegetables. Certain fruits and vegetables shall be available in abundance in certain seasons and shall not be available in other seasons. This is an important factor to be remembered while selecting your recipes at the time of menu planning.
9. Garnish: The beauty of a meal is half its looks; if the meal looks colourful, nicely garnished and smells good; that would invites people to eat. Plan accordingly. You should also plan to substitute butter and fattening oils with healthy olive oil for cooking. Try to reduce the intake of salt and sugar, the twin inevitable ingredients of most meals, but nevertheless unhealthy for a variety of reasons for most people. Try also to avoid soft drinks.
10. Healthy Food: Instead of mindless oil soaked snacks, introduce olives and almonds for snacks. Replace the fried foods with baked and boiled foods. Replace white bread with brown breads. All berries are good for health, the blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and cranberries. Make them a part of your menu planning.
I take all the efforts to plan menu at least for two weeks in advance. I abide by the plan for a couple of days and then start cooking on impulse, on a temptation to eat something on the spot and the compulsive requests from the children to prepare something unaccounted for in my planner. How to strictly adhere to my planned menu?
Don’t we all do that occasionally? You spend time and efforts to prepare the schedule, you do shopping to be ready with the ingredients, and you do stick to it for a couple of days. Then, bang it goes with the wind.
Well, include your temptation foods in your menu while planning. Include the favourite foods of your children on a daily basis. Planning nutritional meals does not mean ignoring the wants of your children. Give them the healthy foods in degrees and not all at one time. The more you gradually introduce healthy and TASTY foods and withdraw junk and unhealthy foods, the children will adjust to them gradually as well. You may find a change in their attitude and a change in your attitude towards food too.
Q I am a working mom. Although I plan menu on weekly basis, but find less time for cooking. How can I plan it more efficiently?
Its simple. Keep few important pastes and sauces ready in your refrigerator. It saves lot of your time while cooking.Keep chopped veggies for emergencies. Its good to try new dishes once in a while. But on regular bases stick to your basic food. Over weekends you can do preparations in kitchen for the coming week.
Whether it is cooking at home, or planning for a party, you need to plan your menu well in advance. Advanced meal planning shall save your time on a day to day basis;You may save on your budget by pre planning and shopping at one go.
You just need to spend some time in planning, which would be well worth your efforts.
E – Book – Menu Planning Guidance
Book – Saving with Menu Planning