Family Menu Planning is a vintage tradition that has gained renewed interest in the 21st Century. Seen as a way to provide your family with delicious, nutritious meals without breaking the bank or taxing your energy. We tracked down Christine Steendahl, also known as “The Menu Mom”, who took some time out of her busy day to answer some specific questions for us about Family Menu Planning…
1. Do you ever have weeks where you just didn't have time to meal plan?
Well… I happen to have a vast amount of menus already planned out. J (since that is my job and all) But.. yes, sometimes it can be hard. Planning does take quite a bit of time and energy – time that a lot of busy families don’t have time to spare. That is why our service is so popular with busy families. If you are not part of a menu planning service, you can make menu planning a priority. If you think of a recipe idea, jot it down on a notepad you keep in your purse, or enter it in on your cell phone – if you have the capability. I know a lot of times while I am out and about or even cooking, I will think of something I want to make next week. If you jot all those ideas down, when it comes to completely writing out your menu, you won’t be stuck looking at a blank sheet of paper.
2. I get a lot of visitors to my site looking for what kinds of things to keep in the pantry for quick meal preparations. What kinds of items do you keep in your pantry.
Well, this will extend past the pantry to the freezer – because I really keep more in my freezer than in my pantry. Here are a few of our staples: pasta, tomato sauce (either jarred or previously cooked & frozen), canned (or pre-cooked frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts), tortillas, baking mix, lots of frozen veggies (or canned if you prefer), frozen grated cheese, stir fry seasoning, chili beans, canned pumpkin, taco seasoning, and cereal (we have WAY too much cereal – I buy it all the time when it is on sale and no one in our house is a big cereal eater – so if you like cereal, come on over!) In all honesty, keeping a pantry well stocked is something we do because we have the space and I like to buy on sale. However, much more important to me is keeping a house well stocked with fresh fruits and veggies, because if they are around – we will eat them; and I’d rather have our family eat that then a bunch of canned pre-processed foods. (However, we are normal and do lean on those periodically).
3. Do you think meal planning can help people in tight economic times?
Oh most definitely! This is especially true if you plan your meals around food items that are on sale for the week and on what you have on hand. There are many planning tools – including our “My Menu Maker” software where you can plug in an ingredient you have and search for recipes that fit your needs. Also, if you don’t menu plan, what do most people do? Either A.) Go to the grocery store way more often than you need to – leading to picking up unnecessary extra items and spending extra money. Or even worse, shopping once a week, spending a ton of money and getting home to only discover you don’t have any ingredients to make a complete meal. Or B.) You eat out way more often – which obviously is not going to help you economically. I have had members tell me that just by switching to our plans and grocery lists, they have cut their grocery bill in half – especially with our frugal menu option.
4. Do you think menu planning is a good fit for a family with food allergies?
Not just a good fit – a necessity. Any family with food allergies needs to be extra organized to make sure that meals are planned out to meet their needs. Families with allergies generally don’t have the option to eat a lot of convenience foods or to eat out at various places. 5. My family loves to try new dishes all the time. Can you tell us how Menu Planning Central can benefit adventurous eaters like us? Sure, with over 1000 recipes in our database, you are sure to find many new family favorites! You can take advantage of our pre-made menus to try out new recipes each week, or you can pick a few to try each week from our “My Menu Maker” software, and enter in some of your own family favorites to create a menu and grocery shopping list that is perfect for you!
Christine has been helping families menu plan since 2005. Find out more about Menu Planning Central