My Simple Tips for Menu Planning

It seems everyone wants to know the secret on how to balance some area of their lives. My biggest secret to keeping the balance in my life has been simplicity.

When things start to get too complex they tend to require more time, thought and effort. I try to do the most I can in the least amount of time, with the least amount of thought and effort.

The same is true when it comes to menu planning. I plan meals that an infant could duplicate…

…well maybe not an infant, but definitely a husband or a couple of children.

When Rachel Ray came on the scene with her 30 Minute Meals I was intrigued by the concept. She showed people everywhere how simple it was to create full course meals including dessert in 30 minutes.

While I don’t make the same meals as Rachel, I do incorporate the same philosophy when it comes to time. My meals have to be quick and easy to make. Quick meals make life simple.

It leaves more time for fellowship with my husband and children.

I advise that you don’t spend your time slaving over a hot stove when you could be giving out tickles and kisses to the ones you love.  The latter will make a greater impact on your family and make you a happier wife and mom.

The next thing that plays a key role in my simple meal planning is semi-homemade great tasting food. A simple 30 minute meal isn’t worth much if no one will eat it. I’ve been actively planning meals for my family since 2007. Before that I just ‘williy nillyed it’ (not a real word ;)) and came up with something for dinner at the last minute which often included a frozen box, a takeout menu or the microwave.

The food wasn’t good and it wasn’t healthy for my family. When I first began meal planning I cooked everything from scratch and while I love some fresh eggs from the hen house and my homemade biscuits that taste like “nobody’s business”, I don’t have time to get up at the crack of dawn to fetch eggs and bake bread.  (No I don’t have a hen house, but you get what I’m saying.)

Instead, I create simple semi homemade meals that deliver the same great flavor of a fully home cooked meal with less time effort and thought.

I spend the most time on the meat portion of my dish. I buy inexpensive cuts of meat for stews and roasted dishes. I plan one day a week to cook them down nice and slow. I usually add veggies to the pot which will also work to save me time in the long run. The broth from the meats is what puts the ‘semi’ in my homemade dishes.

I rarely discard my cooking juices. Instead, I use them to cook my slow cooker rice for the week or to simmer my frozen or canned veggies.  The meat broth is what will turn a processed vegetable into a great tasting home cooked side.

And don’t feel bad if you occasionally feed your family frozen foods, just try to buy the best quality products and pair it with healthy sides. They won’t remember you for being a top chef in the kitchen who spent hours at the stove; they’ll remember that you were too busy for them.

So keep it simple in the kitchen and you’ll start seeing how your time will balance out with the rest of your day.

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