I’m struggling with this one. The logical side of me knows that if I had a weekly menu plan for evening meals my life (and the rest of the family’s) would be easier. I know that being able to check the list and then go to an adequately stocked pantry and fridge to whip up the evening meal would be far less stressful than the sudden realisation that I don’t know what I’m going to feed the whingeing pack of wolves my daughters turn into at about 4pm every afternoon. This realisation is generally closely followed by the discovery that I have no defrosted meat, the crisper is a bleak space containing lonely carrots and a floppy bunch of parsley and the freezer, though full, is stocked only with soup (a meal my four year old flatly refused to allow past her lips, ice cream bribe offered or not!)
I have tried countless times (and I really do mean countless) to conquer this skill – essential to being a proper SAHM it seems – but so far I’ve failed. I write my menu plans carefully, I write the shopping list and sometimes I even find myself in the supermarket with said shopping list in hand. What could go wrong? I really don’t know. I lose the plan sometimes (the hazard of scrawling things on the back of old envelopes). I forget we have three meals out that week so the rest of the plan goes out the window and the veggies I bought start the slide into floppiness. I forget to defrost the meat. I just change my mind suddenly about what I want to cook or eat that week. Or more likely Miss Four begs and begs for tacos (not on the plan!) of which she then only eats the tortilla and sour cream.
And then I’m back to the aimless wandering of supermarket aisles or making mulitple trips to the shops each week to get stuff for just that night’s meal (good thing I’m not an impulse buyer and the shops were on my way home from work anyway). And the afternoon stress heads back up the scale. It’s sad but I’ve just never managed to do the whole menu planning thing successfully at all.
However this last week I cheated. Wendy wrote my menu plan for me… and because it was online I couldn’t lose it, and because she didn’t do a meal for everyday the night we ate out was easily slotted in….. and it worked! Don’t get me wrong, she’s not a total miracle worker, she may have wrangled me in, but my finicky eaters still turned there noses up at some of it. The Veggie Dots were a big fat NOT, though the tomato sauce was eaten. The slow cooker meal was a winner and the lamb patties (which we had in burger buns and without the cheesy puffs – though they do look great) were hands down the winner of the week. My favourite was the roast chicken with cous cous. But the best thing was dinner was always a simple thing to manage, I knew what I had to do, I had everything I needed and I got a real insight into why people menu plan.
Now what I want are your best menu planning tips. How do I make this thing fool proof, a way that even I can’t stuff up? For someone who isn’t great at implementing routines can I become a seasoned menu planner? Is there an app for this, they sometimes work for me…. sometimes they just become a passing fancy.