When I was little, I remember watching my mom plan menus. She would find two weeks worth of recipes that suited her, make her grocery list, and head to the store. She had a plan. If she was not available to make dinner, she could confidently assign one of us the job, knowing that the recipe and ingredients were all set.
As my family has grown, I have tried to implement a version of my mom’s plan. She was gone at work all day; I homeschool all day. She had three children to feed; I am presently cooking for twelve. My dad’s goal was for my mom’s recipes to be on a computer in the kitchen (unheard of at the time); I have countless internet recipes at my fingertips! She needed a system in place, so do I. Her plan was for two weeks; mine is a four week plan, repeating monthly.
Coming up with a months worth of recipes is time consuming but well worth the effort. I found it helpful to do a different theme for each night. For instance, Monday: Italian, Tuesday: Mexican, Wednesday: Soup, Thursday: Something with Chicken, Friday: Homemade Pizza, Saturday: Extra Special Sandwiches, and Sunday: Special Company Meal. Then it was easy to find four or five different Italian recipes, and so on. Next I scheduled each recipe on my Google calendar, making sure that it was a reoccurring event, every 4th Monday. I found it helpful to photocopy each recipe, compiling them into one 3 ring notebook. By the time I had finished filling in each day of the week, I felt so accomplished! I no longer had to wonder what in the world I was going to make for dinner. I had a plan!
The next step is equally important. I went through each recipe, recording and sorting all the ingredients (vegies, spices, dry goods, dairy…). Because this list is on the computer, it can easily be printed for duplicate copies. Keeping a current list on the fridge makes it easy to highlight with a yellow pen when an ingredient runs low. My husband does the grocery shopping (what a blessing), and I think he is blessed when I have a complete list ready for him!
Each night before bed, I like to check my calendar to see what is on the menu for the next day. It just takes a minute and reminds me to pull some meat out of the freezer or to make sure I put some legumes in the crock pot to soak.
I am thankful for a mom that fed and taught me well! [Next key concept- family story- “Kids in the kitchen”]