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Menu planning advice from the dark ages!

Many, many years ago, (in the dark ages) when I was still at school, we had a subject called Home Economics (now approximately linked to Consumer studies).

Home Ec

Now, please don’t question why, I have a Std 7 (Grade 5) Home Economics book from 1992 (I was long gone from school by then). In it is a whole chapter on Meal Management. This means menu and meal planning are not new concepts to a busy modern life.  Meal planning has been around since before refrigeration because, once you slaughtered your cow and harvested your fruit, you didn’t exactly have a lot of time before it went off. You needed to know what you were going to do with all that meat!

The objectives of the meal management chapter state that you will be able to – explain, discuss and apply the importance of planning ahead and the general factors to consider when planning meals. Select the recipes and food to prepare appetising and nutritious meals. Plan an order of work and prepare meals quickly and efficiently.

Here are the factors that were considered vital to meal planning. Nothing has changed, these factors are still important.

  1. Nutritional needs- As I have previously stated the amount of calories a person needs varies according to their age, activity levels, health and obviously weight management. Each meal should contain foods from the food pyramid or food plate, http://www.kasheringyourlife.co.za/index.php/2015/10/01/how-meal-planning-helps-you-lose-weight
    Banting is the other way around
      Banting is the other way around

    This is what should be in a balanced meal
    This is what should be in a balanced meal
  2. Food preferences of the family members- If you have fussy eaters, meal planning can be quite difficult. In my post ‘Is your kitchen a restaurant? ’I discussed how to deal with fussy eaters, http://www.kasheringyourlife.co.za/index.php/2015/08/13/is-your-kitchen-a-restaurant . Also by asking family members what their favourites are, you can plan a menu for a week or month and each member gets at least one meal you know they will actually eat. http://www.kasheringyourlife.co.za/index.php/2015/07/30/10-things-you-need-to-know-when-drawing-up-a-menu-plan

    Menu planning on a magnetic board and stuck on the fridge, so everyone knows what's for dinner
    Menu planning on a magnetic board and stuck on the fridge, so everyone knows what’s for dinner
  3. Needs of the family members- This is important. You cannot give the same portion size to a sedentary office worker as you would to a student who is involved in sport. You also need to take into account medical health such as diabetes, high blood pressure, dieting, etc.
  4. Time of the year- When planning a meal, don’t plan to have a thick minestrone soup in this beautiful 30˚C weather we are having, rather try some cold soups. Also, what fruit and vegetables are in season? Buying out of season produce is expensive
  5. Amount of money available- Your meal planning is dependent on your budget. Simple meals like pasta and sauce are not unhealthy, depending on the sauce, of course. It is a cheap and relatively filling meal, especially when served with coleslaw. Save buying expensive cuts of meats and cold drinks for special occasions and meals. Dare I say it – OROS is perfectly fine for a week day meal. Water is even better!  Shopping in your pantry cupboard is a great way to start. Make your menu based on what you have! http://www.kasheringyourlife.co.za/index.php/2015/06/30/i-own-my-kitchen


Remember, if you have different age groups in your household you may need to also take into account different eating times.

When I was still working shifts we did not eat together as a family very often and my domestic did the cooking. My husband worked not far away (10km) but to miss the traffic he would come home at 7 pm and I only finished work at 7pm so I would often not be home till 8pm if I was working day duty and, if I was on night duty, I would have already have left the house by 6:30 pm.  My kids would eat at 5:30pm. By the time we ate, the food was usually dried out and not very appetising.

Now, if I know we will not all be eating together, I try and plan a meal that will not become dried out and inedible but one that can stay warm. Stews and curries are good for this. (Hello, slow cooker!).

If you and your partner are going out, why not make a kid friendly supper which you don’t need to eat?

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