Monday, December 14, 2009

Menu Planning

In the last several weeks, I've started planning out what we're having for dinner in advance. While some of you might think this is a no-brainer, this has revolutionized life in our house (okay, there is some hyperbole in that sentence, but menu planning has made life easier). When I was working, Chris and I would send e-mails back and forth toward the end of the day trying to figure out what dinner was going to be and who was going to stop at the store. This was not an efficient system. After I stopped working, things were marginally better, but still the question of what we would be eating that night often loomed large. When there isn't a plan, it is very easy to call Lavash for take out of delicious lamb kebab sandwiches and hummus.

So I have started listing out the days of the week, taking into account what nights we have plans and starting from there. Here is the menu last week as a sample:
Monday: baked mahi mahi, roasted brussel sprouts
Tuesday: lentil soup
Wednesday: eggplant curry and brown rice
Thursday: Chipotle
Friday: -
Saturday: pizza night
Sunday: dinner with my parents

As you can see, the menu is a work in progress. I usually make a batch of soup on Tuesday so leftovers can be eaten at lunch through the week. Thursday night is swim night, so we usually pick up dinner on the way home. And by Friday, I typically am out of ideas and don't want to cook.

Having a set menu has saved me from ordering carry out several times. If I know what I am to be cooking and have the ingredients on hand, it seems silly to not prepare the dish. I tend to cook with few ingredients, but getting to the store is sometimes a challenge. I also need to time the grocery trip with when the fresh ingredients need to be used. Monday's dinner last week should have been later in the week and further from the grocery trip because the fish and veggie were both frozen and the prep ingredients were shelf stable.

So this whole menu planning thing is a work in progress, but we're getting there.

Just for the fun of it, here is this week's menu:
Monday - dinner at parents
Tuesday - minestrone soup
Wednesday - crock pot roast with sweet potatoes
Thursday - carry out or leftovers
Friday - stuffed shells
Saturday - pizza night
Sunday - dinner with parents

Now if I can just get to the store...

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