Friday, September 6, 2013

Menu making for stress relief

"Just for today, I will have a program. I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision. "

I'm a menu maker.  I have been one for quite a few years.  It helps me to plan my grocery shopping trip and reduces my stress during the week about what to fix for dinner.  Home economists have recommended making menus for decades because it tends to prevent the "let's just eat out" tendencies and helps to keep food budgets under control.

When my husband and I  married I had two teens and he did, too.  Suddenly my life was much busier with day to day things and believe me, having four teenagers at once will keep you busy!  Add into that a full time work schedule and a husband who likes to eat out for any possible reason, and believe me you will need a plan!

At first I continued my habit of making a weekly menu.  But it seemed like the weeks went by so fast I was making menus all the time.  Fortunately I had saved several of my menus in a drawer and decided to make a menu for TWO MONTHS at a time.  That's right.  Two months.  

Here's how I did it.  I took those weekly menus that I had been saving for a few months and put them into a calendar format, choosing menus from the ones I already had.  I tried to keep them interesting (not always successful) and sometimes they were pretty redundant, but at least I had a plan.  I created the menus on my computer and saved them in a folder on my desk top.  When the two months were about up, I created another two months worth of menus, because tastes tend to change with the seasons.  I've been doing this for a couple of years now and have a collection of menus that span over two years.  Here's my most recent one:




As you can see, this is not gourmet fare.  It is also not set in stone.  Sometimes I switch things around because suddenly it's not going to be possible to make chicken and dumplings and it's going to be a grilled cheese and tomato soup night.  The point is to have some kind of plan.  You also will notice that every Tuesday at our house is "skip" and Fridays are "leftovers".  This has kind of evolved over the years.  My husband and I started having date night on Tuesdays and the kids can cook for themselves whatever they like (they were all in their late teens when we started this).  Fridays have evolved into leftover nights because usually it's just hubby and me for dinner since everyone else in the house has plans.  We often eat whatever is leftover or go out for a quick bite.  Yes, we still eat out too much (at least I think so) but we do it a lot less then we would if there was no menu.

I definitely encourage giving a menu plan a try, even if you start out with just a one week at a time menu.  Don't worry about getting it "perfect" and don't worry about whether you'll stick to it exactly.  You won't.  If you don't know where to begin, start by asking everyone in the house (including yourself) what their favorite meal is.  Look at the ads in the paper to see if there's something in there that catches your eye.  The point is to just START.  Once you get going, it's really not hard at all!

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