Monday, June 13, 2011

Menu Planning: If you are not doing this yet, try it now!

I live a fairly busy life. Mom, wife, consultant, event planner, social life, grocery, doctor appointments, you get the drift. It's basically crazy most of the time.

Aside from religiously listing my tasks and logging in appointments and school meetings in my planner, there is one other tool I find time to do.

It's menu planning. One of the God-given capabilities for men and women alike that can probably lessen your stress and the time standing in front of your pantry or ref figuring out what to whip out for breakfast or dinner.

Basically, menu planning needs the following:
  • List of dishes you can prepare
  • A weekly calendar which you can write at the back of a used paper or a notebook
  • About 15 minutes of your time weekly
I menu plan every week preferably on a Saturday. Plot out the days of the week and across the row divide into breakfast, lunch and dinner. In my case, I add another column for Baon because my husband and eldest daughter eats lunch in the office and school respectively.

Write under each day and meal the dish you plan to cook. Example, breakfast under Monday can be eggs and corned beef and for lunch on Monday, Chicken Tinola. Keep inputting dishes until you complete all meals for all the days. I keep Saturday and Sunday blank because usually there are eat outs on those days and parties too. In my case, I go further in choosing dishes I can cook in advance which the helpers can just reheat for dinner when I have late afternoon meetings. (I don't like hurrying home to cook dinner.) I also choose dishes my husband and Camille can have for packed lunch. Sometimes, I cook all of them in the morning, breakfast, lunches and dinner! (Yes, I do that!)

Then from your menu plan, list the ingredients you need to cook these dishes and include them in your next grocery shopping. Simple!

Here are a few great things about planning your meals ahead.
  • You can minimize vegetable and ingredient spoilage because you just buy what you need.
  • The principle of JIT or Just in Time. This sure sounds kinda-over for most but for me, it's good to be able JIT because I don't have to buy all that I need but only what my menu needs for the meantime.
  • Diet- Menu planning is a great way to implement your diet plans that have been long neglected because of temptations and other surprises.
  • Spend less time thinking every time you cook. You can get right into it by just referring to your menu plan.
Let me tell you something: despite my seemingly OC personality, my menu plans are written at the back of scratch papers and book paper flyers distributed in our village. It can be written in any way for as long as it's something you understand at a glance.

If you don't want to think or want to get an idea, Good Housekeeping has a monthly menu plan inserted in each issue.

I will be honest that sometimes, I do not get to to this. I wish I could do it as religiously as I update my datebook. But anyway, it's never too late to start right?

Happy menu planning!

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