Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Menu Planning

Nisha asked, "I am a newlywed and I've notice that you always have great recipes especially desserts. How do you organize your meals and desserts? I would love to make desserts, I just need to know how to organize myself in making new meals and desserts without getting discouraged."

Hi Nisha, I do love to cook and bake and try new recipes, but I have to admit that I am not the most organized person in the world when it comes to menu planning. I like having a little flexibility when it comes to deciding what to make for dinner. What this looks like for me is, when I notice that our food supply is getting low, I make a menu with around six to eight dinner ideas. Then I just look at the recipe for each dish (or just rack my brain for the recipes I’ve made up and/or know by heart) and write down the ingredients I will need to make it. I also make sure to check my calendar to see if I’m scheduled to make anything for church or a special event, or if we are having anyone over for dinner that week. If that is the case, then I add what I will need to my grocery list.

I tend to be a “what shall I make for dinner tonight?” person. Most of the everyday meals I make don’t take that much preparation, and my husband usually gets home from work early enough to entertain our 1-year-old for the twenty minutes or so it takes me to make dinner. I think when we have more children, I will probably try to do most or all of the necessary dinner preparations in the morning, so that I will just be able to pull the completed meal out of the fridge, pop it in the oven to heat, and serve, but I haven’t really found that necessary yet.

As far as desserts go, my husband can’t eat more than one tiny bite of sugar, or he will feel sluggish and awful, and we don’t give 1-year-old sugar except on a very special occasion (like his birthday), so basically, I’m the only one in my house who can eat desserts--and I certainly don’t need a whole pie or batch of cookies to myself! So I really only make desserts when I take them OUT of the house and serve them to a group of people (we attend a small house church and eat dinner together every Sunday, so I often take desserts to church).

I recommend building up a base of four or five dinners that are pretty easy to make and always come out right. Then, once you get those down, you can flip through your recipe books (I love getting new recipe books from the library!) and try some new recipes. If one of your new recipes comes out right and is a hit, you can add it to your “frequently prepared dinners” list. You can do the same thing with desserts. Maybe start with cookies, then try cakes, then move on to pies, cheesecakes, and other more challenging desserts.

Here are a few of my “frequently prepared dinners”:

Spaghetti or Lasagne
Tacos or Nachos
Chicken Casserole
Chicken or Beef Stir-fry
Fried Rice
Omelettes (it’s fun and easy to make breakfast for dinner!)
Tuna Melts
Linguine with Clam Sauce
Asian Chicken Salad
Fried Chicken
Tuna Casserole
Twice-Baked Potatoes
Hamburgers

A couple of easy-to-follow recipe books that I use are Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook and Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. I also use Allrecipes quite a bit. I like reading through the reviews and tips of other people who have tried the dish I am considering making.

Hope this helps, Nisha. May God bless your marriage and your homemaking efforts.

1 comment:

A. Muschette said...

Melissa,

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to my question.

Much Appreciated!

~Nisha