It may seem odd, but hanging on the door of my fridge is a weekly menu. I began the custom when my older children were young and have continued it on and off for over 15 years. Imagine my surprise when I began my catering course to discover that one of the most important things was menu planning. But the reasons that my catering tutor touts its value are the same as those that I began this tradition so long ago.
1) It makes shopping easier…and lowers your food costs. Instead of wandering the aisles looking for bargains that might not really be that great, you can focus your pound/dollar on the essentials that you will need for the week. It will reduce your tendency to overspend and splurge buy.
2) It saves time. This may seem odd. Your first thought might have been…’who has time to plan a menu?’ But the truth is that 15 minutes of thought can save you hours of shopping, chopping and store hopping.
3) It ensures that your offer your family a variety of healthy options. Does it sometimes seem as if your cook the same thing week after week? By planning a menu you can eliminate this repetition and increase the options…baked, broiled, chicken, red meat, potatoes, rice, pasta, and a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables.
4) It saves your sanity. When I was a single mother with four teenagers to feed, there was nothing worse than coming home from work to stare in the fridge saying ‘What can I cook tonight?’ It is much more pleasurable to simply look at the door and say…’Oh yes, BBQ chicken and mash.’
5) It allows you to prepare. If you know that you will need chopped onions in two days for a lasagne, then it makes sense to spend a couple of minutes extra chopping while you are making the soup tonight. Working mothers may find it even simpler to make a couple of casseroles over the weekend so that they can come home and relax.
I challenge you this weekend to take a few moments and try it. It does not need to be anything elaborate. Mine is simply the main and carbohydrate scribbled on anything I can lay my hands on. It has even been written in crayon a few times.