I used to read blog posts about menu planning and look at pretty pictures of meals written on chalk boards and think 'that's great but it is so not for me.' I used to think that I need to feel inspired in the moment to cook creatively. I used to think I was too disorganised for a list. That my kids would never go for it. That I didn't have a big enough recipe repertoire, or enough time.
BUT in the desperate need to make school weeks easier on everyone I gave it a go.
And I am here to tell you that menu planning is brilliant!!
Every Monday in the late morning me and the farmer boy sit down with a cuppa and lots of cook books and paper and pens and talk food. We talk about what's in season, what we have growing on the farm and in our kitchen garden, what is available locally or from the farmers' market and what we feel like eating.
Then we go through some books and choose recipes and match meals to days. On days when there are lots of after school activities, we choose easy meals and on days when we have more time, we try new to us or more adventurous dinners.
As we write the plan we also write a shopping list to make sure we have the ingredients we need, when we need them.
And you know what? It is making such a difference to our lives. We are more inspired than ever to be creative with our food. We are trying new recipes and experimenting with new flavours. We are preparing parts of meals ahead of time and we are not taking short cuts.
And the girls are getting into it too. Discussing the week's menu, writting it on the board, making suggestions, helping with the cooking and becoming adventurous.
Some of our favourites lately have been:
Spinach and ricotta ravioli.
Fetta and spinach pasties.
Fish and salad.
Felafel and salad and hummous and pita.
Dahl and garlicy flat bread and yoghurt and rice.
Tofu and salad wraps.
To be honest, I probably should have left it a bit longer than three weeks of menu planning to write this post. To make sure we stuck to it and continued with it. But three weeks in and I already cannot imagine not menu planning. I hate the thought of that 4pm 'what's for dinner?' question and that mad scramble and hope that I have the ingredients I need to make something at the last minute.
Somehow menu planning seems to have given us back the pleasure of food preparation and eating.
I love menu planning.
I totally, highly recommend it.
And I absolutely get that you might be reading this thinking 'Huh! That is so not for me!' And all I can say to that is, don't knock it until you try it.
So tell me lovely people, do you menu plan?
What are some of your favourites?
Do you think menu planning is great for others but not for you?
What are you having for dinner tonight?