Food & Cooking · Home Organisation n Design · Parenting

Menu Planning

One of the biggest roles I have assumed the moment I land my eyes on the home is to be a great chef and provider of everything yummy and healthy for the family.

Wow, that turns out to be a mammoth-sized project!

For one thing, I need to take into account the nutritional requirements of 5 hungry mouths… and with our youngest being almost 10 months now, cooking has been a bit more tricky as I am trying to incorporate her need in the family meals without compromising too much on taste for the rest of the family!

Wow…it hasn’t been an easy past 3 weeks as I witness my once great-puree-eater turns to an independent, messy, fussy self finger feeding little girl.

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Lately I found myself thumbing through the internet cook sites for more ideas…more inspirations…I feel like jotting down every great recipe idea I come across!

The kids being in school most days  means that Mama needs to be a bit creative with her lunch boxes! Food that are tasty, healthy, different, and do not grow stale in hot or cold weather…to think beyond sandwiches is a challenge in itself!

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Being all things CHINESE, we take our meal times seriously and dinner is a non negotiable family time!

I try to make dinner meals palatable for the oldest to the youngest and i love making dinner more elaborate…since this is a special time when we gather together after everyone has been apart the whole day.

When I used to work before, i paid little attention, if any, to what we ate or how I cooked. I seriously don’t know how we survived! Once I set my heart on making homemaking a serious calling, my attention was directed to what I am actually cooking for the family! Little did I know how much this would encompass! Menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning would have to be one of the most time consuming jobs in the home! This significant task is  not to be underplayed, because the nutritional needs of the family literally rest upon my shoulders…my tiny shoulders. Am i a wise woman who consider the ways of her household, or am i one to wing it in the face of everything quick and convenient?

With growing bodies, I realise that they get hungry every few hours or so, which means that I have to come up with 3 main meals a day, followed by morning tea, afternoon snack, and sometimes (well, many times) dessert.

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They say that the stomach is the path to a man’s heart…I realise it to be only too true…even the kids seem to love me more when they are well fed. And even I seem to thrive when my kids love my food. So yeah, I admit…this once a love-hate task has been more of a love-tiring-daunting-love relationship to me.

Over the years I have made many adjustments… I have to learn to adjust my attitude and develop a growing love for cooking…I had to improve my culinary skill and stopped burning my pots…I had to expand my repertoire and learn new recipes…and I had to master some fail-proof collections that I can always count on and I am always trying to beat myself to getting the meals done quicker, efficient and on time!

I don’t remember working under such duress in the corporate world…

Many times I would wonder if I could assign this task to someone else (take aways, catering, fast food) while I would tackle the more “significant” jobs in life, but the truth is that, I don’t think I can get further from this really important job!

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Lately, I desire to be better and more systematic with my menu planning. I spend too much time thinking and writing out what I was going to cook on a day to day basis! I need to be better organised and take the guesswork out of preparing approximately 25-30 meals a week. I am tired of eating the same kind of food, not having enough vege and variety…I want to incorporate superfood into our diet, and make dinner time the highlight  rather than the mayhem of our day as a family. There are many nights in a week where my husband would be away leaving me with 3 mouths to feed and a whole kitchen to clean, plus putting littles ones to shower and to bed, and doing school reading and night devotion. So I really need to be on top of the game. What about those nights where the kids have sports or music activities which leaves me little time to dawdle thinking what to cook? It’s funny, but there ain’t no messing around with mealtimes when you have little ones!

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So in planning for family meals I set a few criteria: quick, easy to self eat and uncomplicated for kids. healthy,  varied and tasty. I came up with a master list of all my fave Thermomix and basic recipes that I can always pull out and do quickly. This list is not comprehensive but it saves me messing around trying to search for new recipes all the time. I have organised it into a table that i can add on as I try out new recipes cross off as I cooked them during the week. I also have a weekly planner with all items listed for breakfast, school lunch, dinner plus morning and afternoon tea. I carry with me a shopping list that I can add on to as I notice what’s lacking in the pantry.

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True, homemaking isn’t easy…it is a different kind of skill that one has to learn to master! 🙂

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