Somebody recently asked me if I enjoy cooking. The question surprised me because, sadly, I don’t think of cooking as fun. I love gathering my family around the dinner table and feeding them well, yet the process is a whole lot of work. I used to wonder why it took me so long to prepare a meal until I realized that most people don’t bake 15 pounds of potatoes at a time or make gallons of beef stew in their largest roasting pan.
Feeding a crowd every night of the week is a challenge for me. I’ve spent hours making menus and corresponding grocery lists, but recently I decided to return to the basics. I once read an article written to young brides that advised them to find four recipes and master them by making them regularly until they could be done without effort. Then they were to add another recipe, and continue on until they could make numerous meals.
Being a not-young-at-all bride of 28 years, I decided to take this to heart. I made a two week menu with dinners my family likes that are basic and don’t require hours of preparation. I paid attention to variety and cost, but also which days are best for crock pot meals and which are best for meals that can be started at 5:00 and on the table by 6:00. I left creative meal planning and complex recipes for Sunday – the very best day of the week, and the day when our table overflows with family and friends.
The menu is taped inside a cupboard door and each day I look to see what I am preparing (and look ahead to the next day) then I plan my day accordingly. Yes, we eat the same thing every other Monday, but my family doesn’t seem to mind, and preparing the dinners on this menu is becoming effortless.
I obey the menu – even when I don’t want to do it. Winging it at 5:30 when I have 11 people to feed does not work – trust me, I’ve tried it.
It may seem like remedial cooking, and to you foodies out there, this would be very boring. But for moms parenting kids from “hard places,” whose afternoons are taken up with therapeutic parenting, homework, and more parenting, this is a simple solution to the moment of panic when you realize it’s 5:00 and you have nothing planned for dinner.
Question: What makes meal planning and cooking easier for you?
Encourage one another,
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