Thursday, 9 July 2009

Successful Menu Planning Tips for Busy Moms

Dinner is the last meal of the day and a time when families can catch up with one another. It is also a hectic time preparing a meal when you are feeling more tired than ever. If you are a busy mom or you know other busy moms, below are some menu planning tips to help make dinner meals easy and even fun.

1. Try to plan your family's meals a week in advance. This is one of the most important planning tips for meals. Knowing what you are going to eat throughout the week means less chance that you will stop off at the closest takeaway place for a convenient, but junk laden meal. Decide on the last day of the previous week (let’s say Saturday for the sake of argument) what the menu will be for the following week. Create your shopping list from the list of ingredients to avoid buying what you don’t really need.

2. Become an avid bargain hunter, collect coupons, read advertising circulars and the like to decide where the best grocery to shop is for your menu items. If one ingredient is a common denominator in many meals, consider buying in bulk to save valuable cash. Common staples like milk, eggs, bread and sugar can sometimes be purchased in bulk - again saving you money. Some stores have on-going sales promotions which can only be good news for your pocket book.

3. Get recipes off the internet. Even the most adventurous cook can get stuck in a rut. The Internet is filled with new and exciting recipes, all you have to do is put your own unique spin on each recipe.

4. Have a leftover night. After preparing meals for five or six days, there is bound to be some food left over. Designate one night to be leftover night and let everyone mix and match for dinner. It saves mom from chucking away any food.

5. Cook your meals in advance. After deciding on a menu plan for the week, go ahead and cook and freeze as many meals as you can. Choose a day when the entire family can help like Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon. Each person can take one meal and fix it for the following week. Once everything has cooled, store it in sealed containers or casserole dishes to be frozen until the night it is needed.

6. Do prep work in advance. All of the meals can’t be cooked at once. Some foods just taste better freshly prepared (even my children know that!). For them, so as much prep work in advance as you can. Enlist your kids to help chop vegetables, dice cooked meat and mix together dry ingredients. The night of the meal, all that is needed is to add the wet ingredients and then simply bake.

Meal time doesn’t have to be all down to mom, the family can get involved, helping with dinner so that some pressure is lifted off mum's shoulders.

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