Confession: I am a lazy cook. No seriously! I hate hanging around my kitchen for more than an hour and I really don’t like cooking elaborate dishes. But HEY! I am growing kids who love food and we try out a new dish every Friday! (Well… almost every Friday since I began blogging on the weekends only but…) I am going to tell you my secret today. Here is The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Menu Planning.
I have been planning and neglecting the menu plans for years. Since I was a stay at home mom then, I some how managed but when I switched to working from home, I found that I needed some sort of a system to work and juggle home more efficiently. I started to plan my chores so that I wasn’t cleaning and doing laundry all the time! I found that I needed to plan my menu too. It would take me hours to come up with a menu for a month and I really didn’t understand how people make meal planning work for them. Then one day my husband gave me an idea that made more sense. Now, it just takes me ten minutes or so each month.
My favourite cooking show is 30 minutes with Rachel Ray. Like her, I love dishing up whatever I have on hand and make things in 30 minutes or less. There is a reason why I prefer this type of cooking. One, I am usually cooking and juggling at least one toddler and a baby at lunch time. Most days I am also working. My kids nap time is right after my cooking time and my husband comes home for lunch at noon. So I have to either juggle or I have to keep him hungry. It is a mixed blessing that my family loves to experiment with food all the time too. I found that if I cooked the same thing every week or even repeated it twice a month, my family would not eat it ever again. Meal planning helped eliminate my biggest problem: thinking about what to cook when the kids are up and running me late. I needed a menu plan that would work week after week yet not bore my kids out. It had to have flexibility too.
Here is what my husband advised: Assign meals in a broader sense, he said. ‘Don’t narrow it down to ‘Chicken casserole or Vegetables with Rice… just make it Chicken on Monday and Vegetables on Tuesday.’ So now, I assign a category to every day of the week so that I can at least know what we are cooking that day. I don’t have to worry about someone not liking the menu too. If guests come over or I am running late I can quickly change to an easier or a more elaborate dish depending on what I have in my kitchen. It saves me thinking, it is easier to not neglect the plan and I can accommodate everyone. It hasn’t failed me till now. Here is what my plan looks like:
Sunday: Quick 30
Tuesday: Pulses/ grains
Friday: Menu Testing
Saturday: Pasta/ Pizza
Here is why and how I came up with that list:
- I work on my blog posts on Sunday and I have to have some thing that is quick. I choose from my list of quick meals with the ingredients that I have.
- On Monday, I decide from the list again or take recommendations from my family before hand. Ditto for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
- Friday is when we test a new recipe. Doing so means that we can decide if it will be included in our future meals. My family loves Fridays!
- Saturdays I am usually outside through the day running errands so we find it easier to make pizza or pasta. I try to make fresh pasta but pizza dough will be defrosted some days and some days, I will quickly use our 30 minute recipe.
Apart from these we have a salad for the day which is usually something fresh that I run through the food processor in the morning or cut up quickly. We usually have the salads for dinner not lunch. We also have a dessert for the day which my kids make in the afternoon.
For Breakfast too, my plan is similar. Here is what we have for breakfast through the week:
- Sunday- Pancakes (We have quite a few variations to how we have our pancakes)
- Monday- Desi (Usually it means some paratha and vegetable)
- Tuesday-Waffles (We fill it with whatever we like)
- Wednesday- French toasts or breads (with some filling)
- Thursday- Cereals ( We each have our favourite)
- Friday- Traditional (Usually it means some elaborate breakfast that is either Indian or Arab)
- Saturday- Eat Out ( I am usually out on Saturday with the kids and I leave very early…)
So there you have it, my lazy guide to menu planning. There isn’t much to think and it is quite flexible. Of course there are a few things that I do to make sure that my life is even more easier. I hate to work all the time so here are a few tips to make this plan work even better.
- Make a list of all of your favourite meals and breakfasts. Pin it somewhere.
- Cut veggies and fruits and fresh produce as soon as you get it and store in freezer. I am always on the mission to keep my fridge empty and freezer stocked.
- Some foods should always be made in double. Pasta pizza curries…
- Make a recipe book that you will love.
- Prepare the night before. Mix the pancake batter or move the chicken to the fridge to defrost. Simple things that make mornings so much easier.
Do you think you can make this plan work for you? Do you have meal planning tips for us? How do you do it? Do share.
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