One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2012 is to be a better employer. The sub-resolution is to set proper expecations early on and give clear instructions to our househelp/s. The sub-sub-resolution is to diligently make weekly menus and ensure that our helpers know what, how and when to cook. I realized that I could have prevented the spikes in my blood pressure that Lotlot caused, had I been more involved with menu planning.
Menu planning can be done in as fast as 5 minutes (if I wanted to go hotdog-longganiza-ham-maling-corned beef-tocino-vienna sausage / nilaga-tinola-sinigang-adobo-menudo-afritada) or as long as 4 hours. The OC in me chooses the longer, more tedious route.
So how tedious is the menu-planning process? Let me count the steps.
First, I need to gather my resources, my cook books and food magazines. Everything is kept in the kitchen counter for quick and easy reference. My favorite cookbooks are those published by Yummy. My favorite magazine’s are Test Kitchen’s and Cook’s Country. These mags sell for only 35-45 bucks at Booksale and are a great steal.
Next, this step is optional but because I am OC and I want to make sure that all shortlisted recipes get their own kitchen time, I try to go thru each book and magazine and list down the recipes that I want to try. Once I have tried a recipe, I put a mark or cross it out. This way, I will prioritize yet-to-be-tried recipes in the coming weeks.
Now comes the actual menu planning. Whenever I can, I try to stick to 2-3 resources per week. After minutes/hours staring at my books, I write the weekly menu in a piece of paper. I have momnesia. I need to write everything down else I forget.
I used to write weekly menus on scratch papers and put them on the ref door. I think it quite understandable why the Hulk in me comes out or almost comes out every time the menu gets lost. I spent hours working on that. And because my memory is terrible, I would not be able to remember what I wrote.
Because of several instances of missing menus, I decided to write down the menu on something more permanent and more difficult to lose.
Once the menu has been finalized, I then come up with a grocery list. Having a list helps me stay focus. It also helps me manage my impulse-buying tendencies to put all sorts of spices and instant mixes into the cart. By the way, before going to the groceries, I check out my ref and my pantry if we already have some of the ingredients that I need to buy.
Whew! Unfortunately, it does not end there.
I am working on a favorite family recipes cookbook. For now, I only have a notebook but hopefully in the future, I will be able to print a proper cookbook complete with pictures.
I think it is a great way to pass on traditions and to make and reminisce beautiful recipes along the way. That is the long term benefit of this cookbook project. The short term benefit is that having one makes menu planning easier.
So after the end of the week, based on hubby’s feedback, I write the dishes that he loves on my notebook.
When I am feeling lazy, I just write the name of the dish and its source and pray that one day, I will have free time to write everything down.
Is there a dream menu planning tool out there? Something that will store all recipes that I like from magazines, websites, tomato sauce pouches etc. A tool that will automatically generate the grocery shopping list of the week. A tool that will list all of my favorite and to-try recipes after keying in an ingredient that I have and need to use up. A tool that will automatically generate recipes that will allow me to recycle left over food. Is there one out there?!!!
While I love menu-planning, I hate that it robs me of precious weekend time away from Aki. I just remind myself that the time spent on ensuring that my family eats nutritious and yummy food is time spent wisely.
ps. pardon the typo and grammatocal errors. I am too sleepy to eit.