Monday, August 12, 2013
I've decided to try something new on the blog for a while. Starting today, and for at least the next several Monday's to follow, I am going to post my family's dinner menu for the week.
It never ceases to amaze me that when someone finds out for the first time that I am a personal chef, the response is ALWAYS the same. People respond with the same two questions: "How is your family so skinny?" and "How do you come up with a menu?" The answer to the first question is easy - we eat really well and we're all super active.
The answer to the second question isn't as straightforward unfortunately. As much as I'd like for us to have a home cooked family dinner around our kitchen table every evening, that just isn't a reality for this busy family. Most nights, it's all we can do to juggle the practices, games, homework and social activities of two athletic teenagers. Sitting down to dinner at the same time is simply out of the question. Even if we all aren't home at dinnertime, my goal is still to provide a healthy meal to fuel us all for our evening activities. Sometimes we're forced to eat it on the run, sometimes we eat in shifts and sometimes it's waiting for us when we walk in the door after practice. It takes careful planning, teamwork and sometimes strategic packing, to pull dinner together for my busy crew.
Before you start thinking that I'm some kind of menu planning guru, I feel the need to clarify a few things:
I do NOT prepare 3 course meals every night.
I do NOT fix new, gourmet recipes for my family every night.
I do NOT spend hours in the kitchen preparing food every single day.
I DO cook more than one meal at a time.
I DO plan out meals for a week at a time so I can limit my trips to the supermarket.
I DO ask my family to help with meals whenever possible.
Now that you know that I'm not some sort of meal expert, I can share with you the strategies that I use when I plan meals for my family. I haven't cracked any secret menu planning code, I've simply figured out what works for my family and our crazy schedule.
This is the basic outline that I use to help me plan our meals. It's way easier for me to use this little guideline so I know that we are eating a (somewhat) balanced menu every week.
Wednesday: Soup or Salad or Sandwiches
Thursday: Beef or Pork
Friday: Pasta or Pizza
Saturday: Chicken or Turkey
Sunday: Breakfast food
Let's call that the "ideal" structure. The reality is that I have to shuffle those around weekly to create a meal plan that fits our schedule. Moving sandwich night to game days and pizza night to a night when we have lots of teenagers in the house - just makes sense.
Having a menu planned for the week, doesn't make me immune from unexpected events that inevitably pop up either. (Rainouts, rescheduled games, last minute meetings and unexpected catering jobs have all been known to throw a kink in my most well laid out plan.) There are some nights when we would just rather go out to dinner too. In that case I put my dinner plan on hold for the night and take advantage of the opportunity to spend a night out. It's not something that comes naturally to me, but I'm slowly learned to be flexible with the schedule.
I haven't been as diligent about menu planning over the summer as I normally am and I now that the kids are back in school, I'm ready to get back into my routine again. The commitment to blog my menu for the next couple of weeks will hopefully be helpful to you AND keep me accountable as well. (Win-win)
So here it is, our menu for the week:
Monday: Parmesan Crusted Fish (check for this recipe on the blog soon.)
Tuesday: BBQ chicken and fresh corn bread
Wednesday: Gazpacho with garlic lemon shrimp
(Lemon shrimp tacos for the kids)
Thursday: Fajitas with Tomato Avocado Salsa
Friday: Fajita Pizza (Using leftover skirt steak from Thursday.)
Saturday: Smoked Chicken Cobb Salad with Avocado Dressing (Using leftover chicken from Tuesday.)
Sunday: Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches
You get the idea. I'm cooking twice as much on Tuesday and Thursday so I don't have to relight the grill again on Friday or Saturday.
My grocery list for the week looks something like this:
Heirloom Tomato Elbow Macaroni
Fresh Corn Salsa (From the Freezer)
English Cucumber Green Chilies
Red Bell Pepper Black Beans
Avocado San Marzano Tomatoes
Orange English Muffins
Whole wheat flour tortillas
Split Chicken Breasts White Bread
My Menu Disclaimer:
I can not stress to you strongly enough that it is highly likely that I will have to deviate from the menu at some point during the week. I do not, in any way, intend for you to copy my meal plan exactly or try and recreate it for your family. My goal is to simply provide you with some inspiration and helpful tips and ideas that you can use to create a menu plan for your family.
If it is at all helpful or encouraging to any of you, I will do my best to continue the Monday menu postings. Send me a comment and let me know if you think my menu postings are helpful or if you would rather I just stick to blogging recipes.
Have a great Monday!