Friday, May 1, 2015

The Value of Menu Planning

One of the habits that I've developed as I have tried to live a healthier life is menu planning.  I did it a little before Samuel was born, but it became a necessity after he came along. I had some space in my kitchen pantry to paint a chalkboard, so I did that one day while my mom-in-law was here watching newborn Samuel.  I've used it every week since then.  The black paint is chalk board paint, and the white paint was just some white latex paint that I had left over from another project.

Menu planning has helped eliminate stopping to get take-out for dinner when life gets crazy. I'll take some time on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday each week and choose recipes for the coming week. I usually print out recipes from the internet and then I make my grocery list off what I printed.  Having a plan for the week means that I know I have healthy options to prepare at home when something unexpected happens.

My lunches usually consist of left overs from the night before, but I keep some back-up options on hand just in case we don't have any leftovers.  My favorite things for last minute lunches are unsweetened coconut milk yogurt with fruit and hemp seeds or eggs and Canadian bacon with veggies or fruit on the side.

Sometimes I get a mental block when trying to decide what the plan for the week. So here's a little framework that I came up with:
  • a crock pot meal
  • breakfast for dinner
  • fish prepared one way or another
  • a chicken recipe
That leaves three nights unaccounted for. If it's cold, I'll add a soup or chili recipe. If it's warm I'll plan for something that can be grilled. Sometimes I will plan a meatless night, but I've been doing less of that lately. One night is take-out night. Cooking is a chore that James and I share. I do the planning and grocery shopping. If a recipe has a lot of steps, I'll do some of the prep work. James does most of the cooking.  He enjoys it more than I do. Cooking is a hobby for him, whereas it is a chore for me. I usually keep the kids entertained while he cooks. I'm thankful for his willingness to help!

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