|Ben helps to mix up a Wacky Cake|
I plan loose supper menus every week. If there is a breakfast or lunch dish that I want to remember to make, I jot that down as well so I don't forget.
Unless I want a specific meal on a specific day (if my husband is cooking or we're hosting someone or we need a super-fast supper before evening activities), I just list the menus. Sometimes I only write down a main dish, knowing I have several vegetables on hand to fill out the menu depending on my mood (read: cravings). I try to have protein, carbs, and vegetables/fruit at every meal. Other people I know aim for a balanced day.
I usually scribble one or two menus at the beginning of the week. Without fail, we shop at the farmer's market on Tuesday. I buy fruit, vegetables, and dairy for the week. I plan some more menus after I see what's good at market.
I shop at a regular store when my list is long enough or has several urgent items on it and I can combine it with other errands. I have an extensive pantry and no plans to reduce it; it would appear that I lived through the Great Depression and turned into a hoarder. I am exaggerating, but I am a better cook and better shopper when I do it this way.
I get the vibe of the week as it progresses, so I add to the menu list as we approach the weekend. I take Sunday dinner pretty seriously, so I like to plan that, and then Friday and Saturday fall into line to use up the rest of the produce. I never write down 7 menus at the beginning of the week (but I was raised by a mother who did).
|art in the sink after a busy cooking session|
However, my biggest resource for menu planning is my supper notebook, where I (most of the time) jot down what we ate for supper and where the recipes came from. I highly recommend a supper notebook to anyone who wants to plan menus!
Sometimes I get menu block; I start flipping through the supper notebook, and pretty soon I come up several possibilities. The notebook shows me our seasonal eating patterns, gives me the source book or website for recipes we liked, reminds me of good menus for company or carried-out meals, and gives me a sense of accomplishment and rich family life. I started this notebook in 2008 a few months after Ben was born. It's priceless. It has been such a help in my kitchen.
Wouldn't it be clever if I could condense this post into a tidy outline? I can't. It's a frank overview of how I really, actually, menu-plan, and I wrote it in reponse to a reader request.
But here are the main points of my menu planning style:
1. loose plans
2. with backup plans
3. extensive pantry
4. the supper notebook
Anything you want me to explain more? And, how do you decide what to eat at your house?