I have written about this before, but I feel it is an important part of meal planning, as this is the meal most people are likely to plan for.
Up until 15 months ago, we had no template and my domestic worker made a variation of a pasta dish almost every night for dinner. The kids at that stage were 10, 12, 16 & 17, and were served supper at 5 pm and I ate, if I was hungry, at whatever time I got home, usually after 7:30, my husband would eat sometimes even later.
We weren’t eating very healthily at all. My husband and I both changed jobs and our lives changed with it. I introduced the family to dinner at 7 pm and started doing the cooking (which I actually enjoy). This has allowed me to experiment with different recipes.
I still work a full day but it is office hours (mostly) and not nursing hours and no night duty. I found it was still a struggle to work out what to make each night.
I got my family to write down their favourite meals and three of these came up as popular with everybody; macaroni and cheese, tuna lasagne as well as mince of any sort. For a while I had been hearing of the concept of the Meat free Mondays, so I went with that for Monday. I also wanted an opportunity to play in the kitchen, so I introduced an experimental night where I get to try out a new recipe and this became Tuesday night. Wednesday proved a slight challenge as I teach a jewellery class from 7:30, so whatever we were going to have for dinner had to be easy and quick to make and eat. I make foods that can be prepped, cooked and on the table in less than 30 minutes. Thursday nights are mince nights and I vary the type of mince recipe each week. Friday being the start of Sabbath is always a more elaborate meal. Saturday night there are usually leftovers from Friday night and Saturday lunch. Sunday night the kids cook, so it is usually eggs and toast.
Meat free Monday is often an opportunity for me to get some fish into the non-fish lovers. If you are not a big fish lover and don’t like cooking it, there is a simple cheat to this, take a ‘cream of ……’ soup, make it with about 100 ml less water than the instructions. Put your frozen fish into an oven proof dish, mix the soup and pour it over the fish, cover the dish and pop it in the oven at 200 for about 30 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
Tuesday is the day I try new recipes. I have been following Jamie Oliver for a while, although I only signed up for the Food Revolution recently. I have been experimenting with different ways of cooking with new and healthier ingredients and I discovered that my kids actually quite like eggplant.
Wednesday’s is fun as I have a book of 30 minute recipes, so I am getting to try a few each month.
Thursday is mince night and my entire family eat mince in whatever form it comes, so I rotate the recipes: bolognaise, cottage pie, mince pie, taco’s, ragout (stew), meatballs, patties etc. I have also learnt to make the meat stretch a little, by adding Oat Bran and Sugar Beans.
Friday night we have soup as a starter and there is either a roast or chicken dish for mains plus dessert, which we don’t have during the week.
Saturday and Sunday are my days off.
I found that having the templates have made a big difference to my attitude in the kitchen and towards food. I am sure it is more difficult if you have fussy eaters but getting the family to give suggestions ensures that each night someone gets what they enjoy.
If you have a template of fun ideas for menu’s let us know. Enjoy your meals.