Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Lost Art of the Menu -

I think that women used to plan out menus for the week. I think they made a menu and from that sprung a grocery list. And once they had a menu and list, they could make several different things for dinner each night. They had choices. I don't think this is a process that happens very often anymore. I don't think we plan menus - at least not most of my friends.

It seems that it's easier to go to the store and get the "regular" list of things....laundry detergent, peanut butter, grapes, milk, vodka...oh, wait, you can't get that at the grocery store! Anyway, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. Then each afternoon there's a panic - "What shoudl I make for dinner?!?! What do I have to make for dinner?!?!" I did the very same thing.

When I started blogging about new recipes and food we liked, I got a bit more organized about menu planning AND grocery shopping. And guess what? I spend less money when I plan it all out in advance. Amazing, huh?

So, I thought I'd share what I do. When I first started menu planning I thought it would take forever and be a pain in the arse. However, what I've found is that even though I need 30 minutes to plan the week's menu and make the grocery list - it saves me the time hassle involved in the "what's for dinner" panic and saves me from falling back on eating out so much!

I have about 6 cookbooks that I like to find recipes from. You may prefer to find them online, or from magazines, or from blogs (which I think is a great source as well)! I sit down at the kitchen table with all the resources that I want to use and spend about 15 minutes flipping, turning, surfing - looking for 5 recipes. Once I find the 5, I write them on an index card that I put on my refrigerator - that way I have an easy list to refer to each day as to what I have the ingredients to make.

After I have my recipes, I make my list. I make my grocery list in my iPhone using the GroceryIQ app - it's fabu!- but you can make your list in whatever way you're comfortable, but I scan the recipes for dulplicate ingredients and list out everything I need to make my 5 meals (don't forget side items if you didn't put them on your menu). After the menu ingredients are on my list, I walk the house once to see what else I need (kitchen staples, bathroom stuff, snacks, lunch items for the weeone, etc) and I'm ready to hit the grocery store.

Now I have the list of dinner possibilities AND the ingredients all ready to simplify my weekday nights. It takes some time to get into the groove of menu planning, but I think you'll love it once you do it and hopefully it will make your life a little, itsy-bit easier during your chaotic week!


mamacita said...

Well don't keep us in suspense -- what are the six cookbooks you use most often?

kathy and Tom said...

Im one of the old fashioned gals, I plan a menu each week and buy all ingredients for the recipes because i hate it when you dont have the one main thing you need...