Menu: The Mise en Place of Your Meals
MEEZ ahn plahs: It means "Everything in its Place".
Have you ever watched cooking shows and seen all the cute little bowls with everything cut, grated, and measured and ready to go? That is called a Mise en Place, it saves time and helps keep things moving more smoothly in the kitchen. I find that taking the time do a Mise en Place makes my entire meal prep more enjoyable, I find it is easier to feel organized in the kitchen and less risk of burning something or finding out I don't have an ingredient in the middle of making dinner too. I even have my husband into the prep!
Making a weekly menu is a similar concept. A menu is the mise en place of your meals, in this case it is the act of planning meals and being ready for them. Putting your meals in place.
Don't panic, It doesn't have to be law or that involved, that is up to you. I don't assign meals to any particular day, just have the supplies and ideas for at least 5 meals each week. But feel free to be more detailed if that's the way you roll. (Menu sheets are below)
I like to pick 5 -7 meals that I'd like to make for dinner then I build my grocery list around those. Sometimes I add lunches, but I'm usually a little looser with those.
Our week might look like this:
Grocery items: Tuna, bread, lettuce, veggies, tofu, soup...
Dinner: (my actual menu for next week)
Krispy Fabcakes (Purple Carrot)
Salmon and Sweet potatoes with creamed spinach
Punjabi Kadhi (Purple Carrot)
Spaghetti with squash and zucchini, sausages, mushrooms and onions
Kimchi Quesadillas (Purple Carrot)
We use Purple Carrot Meal Delivery, a vegan meal service, but not every week; this upcoming week is a Purple Carrot week. If I'm not using a meal service, I come up with 3 more meals to fill in that gap.
Meal kits can be a useful tool in your menu planning.
OK, that's great, but how and when?
When my kids were small I found that there was a little time on Saturday morning that was all mine and I'd make a cup of coffee and settle in with magazines and cookbooks and pick out my meals. Umm... it was before the internet. Now I use the internet, magazines, and cookbooks.
I have years of practice and it takes me about 15 minutes to plan out the week.
Find a time that you can call yours and learn to enjoy the process. Maybe while settled in front of the TV at night, or like me, at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee.
It is now a relaxing time for me. However you do it, I recommend planning the whole week at the same time and make your grocery list.
We us Anylist app for grocery list and it's on our phones so that either of us can pick up groceries if we are out.
Why make a menu?
It saves you time, through time management
It means you always have the ingredients you need
You are less likely to grab fast food because there is a plan
Honestly, no one likes 5:00 to roll around and have no idea what to make for dinner! It is a stress reliever
It saves money. By making a menu you can budget your groceries and you aren't spending extra on quick meals like fast food and pizza. when you do, it was because you wanted to, not out of desperation.
Healthier eating. By planning the meals you can plan what goes in to them and make healthier choices.
Cut down on waste. By knowing what you eat and when you are less likely to have food go bad.
Portion control. Planning meals is a great way to practice portion size. Americans tend to eat much larger portions. Try seeing how few leftovers you can have.
Blank Weekly Menu Sheet - use this sheet to make a general menu
Detailed Weekly Menu Sheet - Provides spaces to break down your meals into things like carbs, proteins, fruits, veggies, etc.
I love to get recipes from:
My fav magazines:
Martha Steward Living
Eating Well Magazine
Food and Wine
Bon Apetit Magazine
My current fav cookbooks:
Wichcraft by Tom Colicchi - We are all about a good sandwich
Tupolo Honey Cafe Cookbook - Smack your momma good biscuits!!
I also use family recipes, if you aren't saving your go to meals you cook for your family do!! It will be a precious gift to pass down.
Happy meal planning and enjoy!
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