Monday, January 18, 2010

Meal Planning: Kitchen Message Board

You might not have trouble with this, but I try so many new recipes & because I only choose a selection of meals for the week, rather than assign them to specific nights... sometimes, well OFTEN, I forget to make dishes I have purchased ingredients for. I end up using the vegetables & the meat in some meal, but sometimes I forget what recipe it was that called for the red curry paste I bought at the specialty market, or which magazine the recipe appeared in.

I am a cook of mood, and I have learned that I need to allow for this in my meal planning, or I will end up having food go to waste. I also have a love-hate relationship with my local market, I love the specialty market 20 min. from my house and I hate the one around the corner that has spoiled produce, sells items past their sell-by date, and is infrequently restocked. Almost every time I go to the store I end up not being able to get all the ingredients I need at one market (seriously my local market was out of chocolate chips for 2 weeks & I once had to go to a 2nd market just to get boneless chicken breasts - it is a TERRIBLE store, you never know what basic staples they will be out of.)

As a result of this meal planning for me has had to become even MORE flexible. I have had a list of 3 meals & not been able to get all the ingredients for a single recipe. If I am shopping for that night, I may have to add a meal or change my plan on the fly (yeah life would be so much easier if there was a decent market in my neighborhood!)

So perhaps now you begin to see my difficulty with remembering what I am supposed to make each week. I've begun to keep the info as a memo in my phone... I also note the magazine, cookbook & page number if it is not something I make all the time... but I've recently added another step. I have a dry erase board in my kitchen, I've started listing the meals on that. It helps me by being always in view and a it helps my family to know what's on tap for the week. For example if my husband will be working late one night he might request that I not make one of his favorites on that particular night. My son likes to look at it so he can anticipate upcoming dinners, he doesn't love surprises. I don't erase the board until it is full. I put a line thru each dish as I make it. And unintentional benefit of this is that it serves as a visual reminder to my husband about just how many great meals I make & what a variety of things we eat. He is used to eating this way every day and has a tendency to take meals for granted. This helps with that a lot, and it also helps ME feel good to see, Wow I did all that this week. That is the thing about cooking... if you've done it well there is no evidence lying around at the end of the week to testify you did it. It reminds me that even if I did nothing but dinner, I have still accomplished a lot by the end of the week.

Symbol Key:
Items with a line thru are dishes I have made.
Items with a + mean some ingredients are outstanding... a trip to the market is required for an item or two. This is mostly due to the aforementioned supermarket issue... but also for freshness. For example: cilantro doesn't keep long, and when I'm going to make shrimp I buy it the same day I cook it.
An F indicates a meal in the freezer that needs to be defrosted, this is a great way to remember to USE up those frozen casseroles & lasagnas!
(Message Board is from Southern Living at Home)

More About Meal Planning on The Fragrant Hand


Cheryl said...

TFS this, April. I really like your system. I just started getting into meal planning, and I love the idea of posting it so that everyone knows what to expect that night.

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