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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Menu Planning for the New Year!

Now that the new year is here, it is a great time to make a change! Dinnertime is one of the most important times of the day for family bonding so let’s talk about some ways to make dinnertime simple and painless! The best thing you can do to simplify dinnertime is to PLAN AHEAD!!! Here are some ways to do that!

Menu planning: This sounds like a daunting task for some, but I promise, there are some different ways to do this that will work for you.

1: The first way to plan a menu is probably the way most of you would be familiar with and that is to have a calendar and write what will be for dinner that night on each day of the month. Of course, this is a great way to do it, but let’s doctor it up a bit! For instance, to make this easier you could set a specific day of the week for a specific “type” of meal. (Monday – Fish, Tuesday – Soup, Wednesday – Pasta, Thursday – Chicken, etc…) That makes it easier for the person who gets stuck in a rut making the same meals and can’t ever come up with ideas. It’s also important to incorporate your children into the menu by getting their input and possibly having a kid’s cook night. To do this you will want to choose your least busy night of the week and assign one child that night to prepare the meal for the family. Let them choose the meal and teach them to prepare and follow through with that meal, including planning the shopping list for that meal.

2: The second way is similar to the 1st way, but incorporating freezer meals. The best way to do this is to be a part of a freezer meal group. I have 10 people in my group and at home we each make 10 of the same meal, freeze it, and get together once a month and exchange so we come home with 10 different meals. So I always have meals in my freezer for those crazy nights. So on my monthly menu, I would choose my craziest nights, like the nights we have soccer games or other activities going on, and on that night I would write in “freezer meal”. That way I am planning ahead and can take that out of the freezer in order to have that ready at dinnertime.

3: The third way to plan a menu is my favorite. The reason I don’t like to plan a menu is because I am not always in the mood to eat what is on the menu that night, or I don’t have the time to make that meal. I make a list of 20 meals (the reason for 20 is that allows left-over and pizza nights or what we call FFY nights, (fend for yourself!). When I make this list of 20 meals, I look through my fridge and pantry and figure out a shopping list. I then go to the store and get everything else that I need for those 20 meals. Now I know that I have everything I need to make all these meals so at any time throughout that month, I can choose any of these meals and not have to make a trip to the store to get the ingredients.

Of course there are many ways to simplify dinnertime, freezer meals being my favorite and also the crock-pot and delay timer on my oven. The thing I have found helps the very most is to make sure I know by lunch time what we are having for dinner. (For working moms, the night before.) That way, when everyone gets home from school and the craziness starts, you can be on top of things!

You can find more tips and many freezer meals in my cookbooks “Girlfriends on the Go”, and “Families on the Go”. Visit my blog to order at a discount onthegocookbook.blogspot.com!

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