Friday, November 20, 2009

Le Menu - Bon Appetit!

Occassionally, dinner guests come into my kitchen and spy the weekly menu posted on the white board hanging there. Typical reactions:

"You are too organized!"
"You have a planned weekly menu? OCD?"
"Control Freak!"

So maybe the last two are my interpretation of their reactions, but it often comes across that having a menu is a novel idea. But I am here to tell you, it is one of the best things we do at our house. We are a bit loose about the schedule of it, and some weeks we don't do it at all. That's ok. Often on a Friday night over take-out or on a Saturday morning, my wife and I will pore over our cookbooks and recipes and create the menu.

Why do we do it? Obviously, good food is important enough to me that I am compelled to write about it, so that 30 minutes of effort taken once per week is compulsory. Some meals can't just be thrown together and, frankly, many of those type of meals aren't that good or good for you.

Also, when shopping for groceries, the trip has a newer purpose. I am not picking up our normal list of snacks, we are preparing for shrimp and leek risotto. I am not hobbling together a bunch of ingredients that will sit in my cabinets for months, I am creating an oustanding goulash.

Also, in some ways, this weekly menu creation feeds my frugality. The first step we take is to really scan our cabinets for what we have in the house. We try to use items in stock first. Lots of squash? We are planning squash stews and sausage and apple stuffed acorn squash and pumpkin pies. Four of five pounds of sushi rice left? I am planning fried rice or stir fry or some other risotto (Sushi rice makes much better risotto than arborio, by the way).

Making a menu helps us make sure that we are eating a balanced diet too. I am a carnivore and my wife is a starchivore. So I make steak every Tuesday night when she's out and she cooks pasta/potatoes every Thursday night when I'm out. We try to limit the number of red meat meals and try to make sure we get enough vegetables at EVERY meal. This just doesn't happen well without planning.

Lastly, our menu is a guide and not the law. Despite all of the OCD cracks, it's rare that we make it through the week and follow the menu exactly. It is so nice to come home from work and have some sort of plan for dinner - at least a list of known options. I have all the ingredients because I shopped for them already - with my weekly menu.

Despite people thinking that I am crazy, everytime someone looks at our menu at least one item stirs them to come back to our kitchen.


  1. Hello. My name is Alex. I'm a starchivore.

  2. I try, OH how I try to plan out meals. But in a house with four people we have one who is gluten-free, one who is dairy-free, one who is the pickiest eater alive (but want to be a chef...go figure) and my husband. LOL! Every week I swear I'll do be better and every week it falls through the cracks. Grrr... Dinner tonight? Haven't the slightest idea.

  3. Jen, How do you eat without a plan with that group? You should make the aspiring chef cook all the meals...he he.