Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Planning Made Perfect

Dear Readers,

It seems like good ideas bubble up, sound good, die off, and in a few months bubble up again.  The latest for me is menu planning.  I always thought this sounded like a great idea, but was honestly overwhelmed by the concept.  I thought I needed to be super crafty and come up with meals where I used part of what I made Monday on Tuesday, and took a full inventory of my cupboards and whatnot prior.  In essence, while the concept was intended to make my life less stressful, menu planning sounded very, well, stressful.

Then, last week, I re-read Kris Karr's guide to menu planning (love that girl) and thought "actually, this sounds easy."  I took a page out of her book and decided to just plan dinners, figuring we would take left-overs or eat out for lunch, and everyone would stick to their usual favorite breakfast.

Well, one week down and you know what?  It worked!  It was EASY!  Why haven't I done this before??  The best part:  the question "what's for dinner" the moment I walk in the house is no longer like nails on a chalkboard.  I happily refer Sweetie to my dinner chart and voila!  "Tuesday: Pasole."  Done.

Here are my newbie tips:

1. Plan.  Break out your cookbooks, iPad, favorite blogs, etc.  My favs at the moment are GP's It's All Good, VeganSparkles and Karr's Crazy, Sexy Kitchen.

2.  Go easy.  Pick things that you can (honestly) put together easily on a week night.  For me this includes soups, pastas, stuff over quinoa...basically anything containing simple ingredients like canned beans and frozen veggies, great spices, fast cook times, and the stove.

3.  Add variety.  Choose a different dinner every night, but stick with at least a few of your family's favorite, go-to meals interspersed with some new meals you want to try.  Also, I planned only 5 meals assuming that between leftovers and "life" we may not actually eat at home all 7 days.

4.  Make a List.  Write out a grocery list and menu for the week.  Grocery shopping is MUCH easier this way.  Plus, this handy-dandy menu (as seen below) makes you seem legit.

There you have it!  Fresh, home cooked wonderfulness and less stress.  Who knew?

A friend recently said of our family's constant new "plans" - vegan!  running!  cleanses! - "is this like everything else you start?"  I see her point, but seeking and trying new and better ways to live has paid off.  A lot of our "new" ways have stuck around with some pretty fab results (see: weight loss, better foods, happier family).  Who doesn't want to be healthier, happier and more present?  And menu planning, so far, is all that minus a nasty bag of chips.

Bon Appetit!

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