LOL! How's that for a title? Kathy asked me some questions about my menu and I've decided to write a WHOLE post just for her!
Is it hard to actually stick to the menu once you have it planned? Does it feel like life isn't spontaneous? What if you don't feel like eating beef (or chicken or fish)? What if things get busy and you don't have time to make what is on the menu.what do you do???
We are very ridged people, we NEVER deviate from the menu, we NEVER get too busy for the menu items listed, and we ALWAYS want to eat what is listed on our menu. So THERE!
Really, my menu is a guide. It is very flexible in it's ingredients and with a little inspiration, I can completely change my dish for the night into something completely different. Take the past two days for instance. No, please, take them. I had planned a highly intricate recipe for Thursday night and at precisely 10:30am my MIL came over and took the older kids for the whole entire day. Now, there was no way I was going to be able to cook ribs, on the grill, with three little ones left INSIDE while I did this OR even worse, try to bring them all outside while I did this.LOL So I just made the next night's dinner and did the ribs last night.
Let's talk our pantry today. What things do you use a lot? Make sure you have these things on hand. When something that you eat often, goes on sale, stock up! If you all eat mac and cheese, buy a bunch whenever you can and it makes excellent meals for times when you are pressed for time. You can take a box of mac and cheese, some frozen broccoli, and some leftover chicken and you have dinner in 15 minutes! Let's say, you don't want that left over chicken. The very thought of it just makes you want to run away. Well, take that mac and cheese, add some ground beef that has been cooked with taco seasonings and you have chili mac! You can add a salad on the side or just some fruit if you're tired. If you really want to impress, put your dish into the oven with some cheese on top and it looks home baked! Let's say, you want to use up the chicken but don't want the mac and cheese. You can take the chicken, add the broccoli (that's still in your freezer) add a cream sauce (or a can of cream of something soup and some milk) and some leftover rice or some cooked noodles and some seasonings and dinner is served. What if you just want the broccoli? LOL Yes, I can even think of a way to use that up. Take some chicken broth, or some bouillon cubes and water and bring to a boil. Add broccoli and cook til tender. Make a cream sauce (or cream of something soup), add to the soup and turn down the heat. Add some cheese and seasonings and you have broccoli-cheese soup! (and if you decide at any point to add that chicken, it would go too)
Basically, your pantry is the most important part of your menu planning. If you have things that you love in your pantry and things don't go well that day, you can still get dinner on the table quickly and it will even taste good.LOL The biggest thing to remember is to let the menu work for you!
If I had decided that we didn't want meatloaf this week, I could have turned it into spaghetti, chili, beef stroganoff, or a million other things. All I needed was the meat, taco seasonings, and tomato sauce and I'd be in business.
I HAVE to say that 90% of the time we make what is listed on the menu. I don't have time most nights to create dinner on the fly. I love knowing that everything I need to make dinner is in my pantry or freezer. It cuts costs because I'm not always running to the store for extra ingredients and it makes dinner time stress-free for me. I always try to make our menu varied enough so that everyone is happy with the selection and I even ask each child if there is anything they'd like to see that week. I also make sure that there is fruit and bread on the table for those picky ones who turn their noses up at the main dish.LOL
Well, I hope this answers your questions and I am more than happy to answer any others that come along. This is one area that I love to talk about!