I love to cook which works out great for my family since they all love to eat. It is a win win situation until I get tired or burnt out of ideas. For me the hardest part of cooking is the planning of the menu. I plan my menus for two week periods. It works well with our paycheck cycle, and I have been in this habit since we were first married. I plan my menus when everybody else is still in bed. I need it to be quiet so I am not distracted! I pour myself a cup of coffee and find a comfortable seat and I start writing. My first thought is what sounds good to me. I then think about if I were to go to a restaurant what I would order. This helps get my thoughts flowing. I also keep cooking magazines and cookbooks within arms reach so I can look through them to get ideas. I always ask my family what they would like to eat over the next few weeks. Usually my kids give me at least four meals that sound good to them. I also try to include a new dish every now and again. Everybody likes to try something new every now and again. I also look at scheduling issues for the upcoming two weeks. If we have football games 3 nights out of the week at 5:00 p.m., them I don't want to be serving food that has to be made minutes before eating. Instead I look to things like casseroles, soups, or crock pot meals that can be cooked before hand so we can eat as a family after the game. Obviously money is also an issue for meal planning. If money is tight, serving steak isn't an option. I am realistic when I plan my meals. Purchasing food for two weeks seems like a lot of money, but in the long run it saves money because we aren't eating out or stopping at the store to grab just a few things that add up to over a $100. Here is another great tip for meal planning. There are many restaurants that have their menus displayed online. I get on my computer and look at different menus to give me ideas of things I would like to serve my family. This has been great for those times that I am not really in the mood to plan. I also use a copy cat web site to help me create some of our favorites from different restaurants. Several years ago, I bought a copy cat cookbook and I have enjoyed many of their recipes. One of our favorites has been a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich that is always a treat when I serve it. I know I promised a recipe for today, but instead I am going to post some links. Happy Planning!!!
(Olive Garden even shares a few of their recipes for you).
grace and peace,