Do you usually give in to eating out, having take-out food or having food delivered because you’re either pressed for time or no longer have the energy to whip up a meal for the family?
By planning meals ahead of time, you can avoid resorting to these options which are not only costly but may not be healthy, too.
Meal Planning and Budgeting seem to be a relevant topic among the Millennial Moms of today as evident by the large turnout of attendees during the Meal Planning and Budgeting Talk by the Millennial Moms PH at The Parenting Emporium, which is also the event’s co-presentor together with PLDT Home last 8th of July 2017.
The event’s speaker Boots Estrada who is an expert on home management gave simple tips and practical solutions on the subject that even a mom who is not a domestic goddess can follow.
Why do meal planning and budgeting seem like daunting tasks that we tend to put off at times? Before we can even start listing down the menu along with the items for the grocery list, we sometimes find ourselves at a lost on what to write down as there a lot of things to consider such as “Will all the family members like the food?, What are the fruits and vegetables in season?, and Do I have the budget?”
Boots gave tips on how to plan a menu:
1. Consider the factors: family, cook and kitchen.
2. Decide the main dish for meal of the most important day of the week which is usually Sunday lunch time
3. Choose the main dish for the other meal of the same day.
4. Decide the main dishes for lunch and dinner for the rest of the week,
5. Choose the accompaniment for the dishes whether a salad, cooked vegetable or a relish or a soup.
6. Plan the breakfast menu for the whole week.
7. Choose desserts for lunch and dinner for the week.
Here, she gave a sample 7-day menu:
Mindy Cabudol, one of the mom participants who have two kids raised her dilemma on how to come up with 365 days worth of meals and how does one compromise so that all family members get to enjoy the meals without breaking the bank.
To which Boots replied, “first, don’t stress thinking about the 365 meals. You can start with a week or 3 days in a week. List down your family members’ favorites. It is also helpful to have a copy of the menu compiled in a clear book.” Boots also suggested getting a copy of her book, Best Match, Menu Planning for a Happy Family which contains 28 days worth of menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner which you can spread out for 2 to 3 months.
A little creativity can go a long way in coming up with a menu. Boots shared that whenever she cooked for a big group, she would take notice that the men are quite averse to the plain dishes being served on the table like the kangkong. They would most likely leave it untouched. She then thought of a way of transforming that vegetable into something more visually appealing by stir-frying it with mushrooms and adding a generous portion of garlic. It was a hit among the men come her next cooking assignment as they came back for a second serving.
Meal Planning can bring about a number of benefits which are: more family bonding time, a happy and healthy (nutritionally-balanced meals) home as there is less stress and savings.
Boots also shared some food suggestions. “Try other vegetables such as zucchini and corn from time to time instead of the typical local options; chicken roll galantina instead of serving cold cuts which are expensive; tilapia with young coconut, Indian salad, etc.”
She also gave additional practical tips which are: learn which fruits and vegetables are in season and where to buy cheap produce; get tips from other people; make your family members happy by making desserts; prepare healthy and attractive dishes; serve little processed food, prepare balanced meals; know the substitutes of ingredients; know when and how to reuse leftover food; teach your kids and staff how to cook; and try to make the kitchen clean and orderly.
Budgeting is an aspect that is crucial in the success of your meal planning. “The better one knows the tasks involved and the more skills one has in food preparation, the more control is over the expenditures of money, time and energy,” Boots said. “If you want to save a lot, focus on the kitchen.
Boots also gave a no-nonsense approach by simplifying this concept into two:
- Be Clever
– Make no unnecessary expenses
– Set a budget (80-150/person/day)
– Plan menus considering the ingredients you have on hand
– Make the market/grocery list according to the menu
– Shop at markets/groceries with reasonable prices. Compare.
– Stick to the market list.
– Set up a system for storing and buying ingredients. First in, first out.
– Staff should know how to do the costing; use the right quantity of ingredients
- Be Creative
– Serve often: native vegetables
– Serve: vegetables in season
– Use extenders like white onions, ubod, repolyo, potatoes, sayote, carrots, celery, zucchini, corn, singkamas, kangkong, Baguio pechay, sitaw, bochoy, talong, mushrooms, bell pepper, Baguio beans.
– Do not throw or give away food that you can still use and serve.
– Make good use of leftovers for omelets, soups, fried rice, bread pudding, sandwich filling.
– Serve one-dish meals like nilaga, tinola, pesa, sinigang, pochero, kare-kare, Bicol express
– Vary cooking techniques – steam, grill, braise and boil. by not frying often, less oil is consumed.
– If there is manpower, prepare meals at home.
– Discover cheap desserts.
– Learn how to cook.
First-time mom attendee, Rich Ramirez shared that the workshop was able to equip moms like her on meal planning and budgeting. “We all know that it takes time to make a menu even just for a day but with the right steps, we all can create a healthy menu that all family members will enjoy. Food makes a person happy because it gives us the energy to go through our day. So we have to make sure that the food we intend to serve is not only delicious and healthy but suitable to the taste of those you will serve it with. Best of all, the menu should be made creative yet within the budget,” she added.
As with continued practice, good cooks become better cooks and by consistently doing meal planning and budgeting as part of your routine, you’ll become better at it and these would no longer seem to be tedious tasks after all.