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Monday, December 10, 2007

Hi friends,

Today I'll be creating my family's menu for the rest of the week. I thought I would start off by sharing a few of my menu planning tips.

We probably all have heard that creating a menu is one way to save time and money. But it's also a way to reduce stress. When I get my act together and actually put together a menu for the week, it makes everyone happy. I put it on the fridge, and the kids who can read love to see what's coming up. Since I love to eat, it makes me happy too.

So here are the tips I use to create a healthy, creative menue for the week:

1) Start by being hungry. I know, I know ... you've always heard not to go shopping while hungry, but menu planning isn't the same. Here's what happens if I try and plan a week's worth of meals AFTER dinner: I'm full, I'm tired of cooking and NOTHING sounds good. So, I sit down when I'm hungry and everything sounds like fun to cook and good to eat.

2) Invest in some cookbooks with photos. Only experienced cooks can visualize a recipe without a photo. If you struggle with knowing what to cook, a photo can be a real help. Here's my philosophy on buying cook books: If it saves me from going out to eat 1 time, it's paid for itself. Check them out from the library if purchasing them not an option for you.

3) Pick up take-out menus from your favorite restaurants. They have great ideas!

4) Find some favorite websites. Here are a few of mine:
* www.foodnetwork.com
* www.cooks.com
* www.recipes.robbiehaf.com/ This is run by a woman who creates copycat recipes of favorite restaurant foods.

5) Once you've found some good recipes, then schedule them throughout your week. Keep in mind afternoon and evening activities. For a busy night, try a crockpot chili recipe, and keep crackers and sliced apples and cheese in the fridge.

6) Here's my most important, and final tip: When you find a recipe you like, write down on your menu the exact place you found it. I can't tell you the number of times I've forgotten which recipe book I used, or if it was on a website. To organize your internet-found recipes, create a favorite's folder for each week or month, and bookmark the recipe in that folder.

Well, those are some things that help me out. Now it's time to get busy for my own family.

As for dinners this weekend, Josh and I enjoyed some favorite takeout food, a trip to Mimi's Cafe and our favorite fajitas from the restaurant of the same name. Amazingly, we spent less than if our whole family had gone out for dinner once.

Then for dinner last night, I bought some Stauffer's meatloaf, and used up some frozen corn, and half a bag of potatoes that were ready to go bad in the pantry. It was a very busy afternoon with Christmas play practice, a groundbreaking for our new church building and then a church leadership meeting after that.

I hope your day is wonderful.

In His Love,


HelenAnn said...

dear sister, I didn't know you had a web site! This was certainly fun to read. Would you please come clean out my freezer sometime. Actually, I got a free second freezer and am trying to stay aware of the contents, though I am pretty sure that there is one last piece of chocolate pie in a very large box on the very bottom, from summer. Love, Helen Ann

Colleen said...

I have a hubby with a special diet (low cholesterol, no sugar - natural or refined). Needless to say, it takes some searching to find recipes that taste good and are satisfying, but meet his strict dietary needs. Once I DO find a recipe that is "safe" and we all actually LIKE, I type it up and add it to my own recipe book (3-ring binder). I always state at the beginning (under the title) where I found it so I can give folks with "regular" diets the "regular" version. We have about 14 meals we really like, so if we eat each meal twice a month (with a couple of "date nights" and "left over" nights) our month of meal planning is done, our shopping lists are made, and there's no one asking "what's for dinner" - it's posted on the fridge! Call me OCD, but I prefer detail-oriented. By the way, we do deviate from the menu for holidays and special occasions, but not for company - no one will every have anything but heart-healthy food at our house!