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Kitchen Essentials: Menu Planning - TKC 12: Leave me voice mail feedback at: 971-208-5493Facebook: @TKCpodcastEmail: Kitchen Essentials: Menu Planning This kitchen essentials is about menu...

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Leave me voice mail feedback at: 971-208-5493Facebook: @TKCpodcastEmail:
Kitchen Essentials: Menu Planning
This kitchen essentials is about menu planning. This was a request from a friend and listener, BJ. She wanted to start getting back into the kitchen but was looking for some insight on menu planning. Here you go BJ, thanks for the suggestion!
My philosophy on menu planning: I don't want to give you a template or a routine to follow. I want you to put some thought into your goals, and what kinds of methods work best for you. From there you will be able to adapt my basic menu planning process to suit your style.

So why is menu planning so important? Menu planning will bring you the following benefits:

Save time (fewer trips to the store, fewer impulse buys, fewer trips for takeout)
Save money (buy only what you need that week, less wasted food)
Eat more nutritious food (you can plan in advance what you are eating and rely less on spur of the moment decisions that may be less healthy)
Have more success in the kitchen (yay!)

Before you start a menu planning process, you need to figure out what your goals are. Do you want to try to make every meal at home during the week? Are you only planning for dinner? Are you looking to ease into home cooking by maybe making three dinners at home per week? Do you already cook a lot at home and are looking for ways to make your meals go farther, or save money each week? Chances are it's a combination of things, but it's important to understand what you want before you sit down to do meal planning.
Think of menu planning as a process that you'll start out slowly and build up week after week, until it really becomes part of your routine and you are fulfilling the goals you've set for yourself. I would encourage you to skip fancy apps and programs and start with good old fashioned pencil and paper. By doing this you'll really start to understand what goes into your meals.
Start with Brainstorming
If you are starting from scratch, I'd first start by doing some "brainstorming" work. Take a blank sheet of paper, and make two columns. In the first column list out all of the dishes you know how to make and might want to include in a menu plan. In the other column, list dishes you don't know how to make (but would like to learn), and might want to put on your menu plan. Unless you are planning to make every meal at home from scratch, you should also include those meals you prepare at home but aren't entirely "homemade," e.g mac and cheese from a box, spaghetti with jarred sauce, etc. Remember the goal here is to help plan a menu, not just list out those things you'll make at home from scratch. As tome goes on you may find yourself wanting to make mac and cheese from scratch, and you can start to make that instead of the boxed stuff. Step by step is the way to a successful menu planning process. After you do some brainstorming, I recommend building the list over the coming weeks so you really start to put together a big list of dishes to inspire you each week when you plan. These are your "stable" of dishes to pull from and put in the rotation, which you can then supplement with new or experimental dishes as you see fit.
When you start to think about what to put on your menu, start thinking about the ingredients that can be used for more than one meal.  Pork roast can do double duty with potatoes and carrots one night, and then go into pork tacos another. That amazing tomato sauce you made is great with spaghetti, and will also be a great base for Spanish rice. Throw some chicken breasts in the crockpot and make pulled-chicken sandwiches one night, and use it as a topping for BBQ'ed chicken pizza another. I think you get the idea. Another good one: get a salad spinner and always have some green/red leaf lettuce on hand for an easy and quick side salad (once you wash and spin it, store it in the fridge

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