Posts Tagged ‘habits’

This Month’s Habit: Menu Planning

November 11, 2009

Thankfully, menu-planning is a habit that Joey and I have had since we were first married. It is difficult for me to imagine functioning for any real length of time without a menu. I am absolutely horrible at cooking on the fly with whatever ingredients we happen to have on hand. Even though Joey is much better at spontaneous meal creation than I am, it’s still too stressful to try to attempt with the size of our crew.

But our menu-planning habit has varied during different seasons of our lives. When it was just the two of us and we lived in a city, we planned a weekly menu and went shopping once a week. When we had a few small children and lived about 30 minutes from a grocery store, I planned a monthly menu and shopped once a month. (That was also when I attempted once-a-month cooking for about a year before Joey finally confessed that he did not like frozen and re-heated food. Oops!)

Then we started buying a lot of our food in bulk from the food co-op and we still lived quite a distance from a grocery store, so I made a “seasonal” monthly menu that would last us through, for example, the fall, repeating the same monthly menu for, obviously, three months in a row. At that time, Amelia began doing a lot of the lunchtime cooking. She was fabulous at it and seemed to enjoy it much more than I ever did. Clara soon joined in with making breakfasts. Oh, what joy!

But, that didn’t last forever. Big girls grow up and move away and, last fall, I found myself facing the fact that I was now back in charge of all meal preparation. Because she is very sweet, Amelia made me a month-long, crock pot-based menu before she and Clara went off to school. She even made master grocery lists for each week of lunches and suppers. I can’t tell you how much these menus and grocery lists saved my sanity over this last year. They are flexible enough to provide variety so we don’t feel like we’re eating the same thing all of the time. They’re extremely economical, based on the meat that we have in our freezers from our own animals. And I have heard very few complaints from anyone about the meals.

And, because, ala Flylady, these menus have become so routine, when we ran out of pork chops last week, I could easily think, “Ah, yes, Monday evening is pork night, but there’s no need to panic. I will just switch gears and make some ground pork meatballs on Mondays until we process another pig.” Yea! for menu-planning!