Monday, March 10, 2008

I enjoy cooking and I don't even really mind grocery shopping but I hate putting together a menu!

Eric had a brilliant idea that stemmed from the way I organize my cookbook. My cookbook is organized into sections like any typical cookbook until you get to the Main Dishes section. Within that section I have 1) Beef & Pork 2) Chicken or Turkey 3) Italian 4) Mexican & 5) Other. I also have separate Soup & Salad sections that have main dishes in them. In the past when I made my menu, I kept a tally of how many meals I had included from each section (also added a rice section if rice was a main part of the meal, so for something like Hawaiian Haystacks I would write "C & R" for chicken & rice).

So here's Eric's idea which expands on my categories. Since I like to shop for two weeks at a time, he suggested we come up with 14 categories by being more specific with the types of meals. And now that we have 14 categories, I just sit down and pick a meal that fits each category. So simple! And since Eric cooks once a week, I leave two of the categories blank -- just whichever categories I can't think of anything for. And now that I've started doing it, I've noticed that there are some categories that don't have very many choices. It motivates me to learn new recipes that could become family favorites and be added to our cookbook. And it gives me something more specific to search for when I need a new recipe to try.

I think it'd be really easy to tweak these categories to fit what works for you -- but it's a fun idea. Let me know if you use it and what categories you add. I think as time goes by, we may change some of our categories too. We had to get creative with some to come up with 14 so it'd be fun to hear what everyone else thinks of.

I'm listing some examples of foods that fit each category because that always helps me get the creative juices flowing....

Flat Meat: piccatta, kiev, schnitzel, rouladen (rolled meats), stuffed like that...
Fat Meat: steak, roast, whole chicken, whole ham...
Sandwiches: abenbrot, grilled cheese, hoagies, club sandwiches...
Stuffed Pasta: lasagna, stuffed cheese shells, manicotti...
Flat/Other Pasta: spaghetti, anything not stuffed... :-)
Salads: Taco Salad...
Soups/Stews: Split-Pea Soup, Stoup, typical stew, tomato soup, ham & bean soup...
Mexican: empanadas, tacos, tostadas...
Ethnic: gyros, navajo tacos, donner kabobs...
Kids: freezer meals, chicken & fries, corn dogs, hot dogs, things we know the kids will eat in a heartbeat...
Casserole: Poppy Seed Chicken, Broccoli Chicken Casserole, Mac & Cheese?
Breakfast: pancakes, crepes, waffles, german pancakes...
Pizza: this gets its own category because we don't mind having it homemade once every two weeks and we can mix up the toppings all we want to (or not!)
Asian: Teriyaki Chicken, Won Tons, Stir Fry

5 Comments:

  1. Anna said...
    Very cool idea. I might have to try that out sometime.
    Headle said...
    ABBY!!

    This is AMAZING!! And OH so timely!! I was just thinking that I need to revamp my meal planning! Its resorted to wondering around the aisles lately ;) Ha!

    Seriously though, THANK YOU soo much for posting this!! I'm using it ASAP!! :)
    Abby Hanson said...
    Heather, I'm so glad you can use it!! Have fun! It seriously took me only 5 minutes to plan meals for two weeks when it usually takes me half an hour to an hour....
    Lisa said...
    Wow, that's a cool idea! I'm impressed that you'll have a different "type" of food every day for two weeks! My parents don't meal plan, they just say, "hey, what are we going to eat" around 6 o'clock and it drives me insane--I need to get them on a schedule. Maybe after I've had the baby... :)
    Rachel said...
    That's really awesome!! What a cool idea, Eric! :) I think that will definitely make meal planning easier.

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