As promised, today I will share with you some of the information I presented at the class I taught at church last week on menu planning and quick meals. (Part Two will come tomorrow)
A lot of the information I presented was thanks to you! So many of you left great ideas and suggestions when I asked for your help last week. You are amazing!
Over my 27 years of fixing dinner evening in and evening out I think I have tried just about everything – once a month cooking, dinner coop, Make a Mix, Dream Dinners. Each of these methods of menu planning has worked but as the seasons of my life changed or we just got tired of doing it I have tried something new.
Another option, that I have not personally tried but that many of you shared in your comments is an on-line menu planning service. What a great idea! For a monthly/yearly fee you can have a weeks worth of menus delivered to your in-box each week complete with a shopping list. Some of the services even have specialized menus available – Low Carb, Heart Healthy and others. I took a peek at some of their free/sample menus and they looked great. I even tried a recipe from one. If you have picky eaters at your house this might not be a great choice but you might want to check it out.
Some of the services you recommended are:
The number one lesson I have learned over the last 27 years of cooking for my family is that Being Prepared is the key to menu planning and quick meals. Knowing what you are going to make and having the ingredients on hand are essential! Doing a little bit of planning and work at the beginning of the week can make the rest of the week so much easier and less stressful.
I do my menu planning once a week on Sunday evenings – planning our menus for the next week. I found it too hard to plan farther ahead than one week. Life happens and schedules change so often that one week at a time just works better for me.
I have two tools I use that help me Be Prepared and plan my menus. They help me be a much happier and less stressed mommy come 5:00 p.m. each night and my family eats better when I use them!
Tool #1 – The Wilkes Family Pantry Staples. I keep a list of all the food items I need to have in my kitchen that keep my family fed. Having these items on hand allows me to put together an elaborate meal for my family or pull together a last minute dinner when I’ve been gone all day and need to leave again in 30 minutes.
If you will review your favorite family recipes you will be able to compile your own list of pantry staples, items that appear over and over again in your favorite recipes or use mine as a starting point and add and subtract from there. By always having these items on hand you will be able to easily and quickly put together a meal your family will love. My list is divided into categories: Freezer, Refrigerator, Pantry, and Canned Goods. Click on the link above to see what’s on my list.
Come back tomorrow to read about Tool #2!