Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Menu Planning Basics: Part 2

Last time we talked about keeping your menu simple to save you time, energy and money. Remember, you can have a very well balanced meal without it having 8 courses. Today I want to encourage those of you just starting out to start slow and come up with something that has a basic structure or themes. No, we aren't throwing theme parties complete with matching decor and music (although you certainly can if the spirit moves you!). Here is an example of a menu based on themes:

Monday: Eat from the Freezer
Tuesday: Grill something
Wednesday: Casserole
Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner
Friday: Soup/Stew
Saturday: Pasta
Sunday: Sandwiches

This method gives you have a plan to start from. First, scan your cabinets, fridge and freezer and see what you already have on hand and start planning from those items first. You'll probably be able to fill at least 3-4 of the days from what you already have. Next, while out shopping you can scan the best deals at the store to complete your menu. "Oh, Chicken is on sale for $0.99/lb - we can gril chicken on Tuesday." At first glance this "theme menu" may look boring, but look at what it can trasform into:

Monday: Sloppy Joes with Oven Roasted Mixed Veggies
Tuesday: BBQ Chicken, Rosemary Sweet Potatoes and Corn and Zucchini Toss
Wednesday: La Bamba Casserole
Thursday: Whole Grain Pancakes, Omelets and Fruit Salad
Friday: Corn Chowder
Saturday: Baked Tortellini and Salad
Sunday: BLT's and a Veggie Tray

Now that menu is anything but boring! I encourage you to try this out and see how much better your week goes when you have some sort of plan in place. What are your thoughts and suggestions?

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