Monthly Menu Planning
This is the system I used to plan monthly menus at my home when there were four of us under one roof. Mind you, these were four people with very different tastes, temperaments and schedules. It worked like a charm at least 90% of the time, and it was EASY. If you don’t like my way of doing it, just google “monthly menu planning” or something similar, and you will get all sorts of other ways that might suit you better. Go for it. I promise I won’t be offended.
1. Print out a blank calendar for the current month (like this one).
2. Assign each day of the week a category that suits your family and schedule.
ATTENTION: You do NOT have to be a great cook to do this. This is more about planning than it is about cooking. If you’re not the Next Food Network Star, use titles like “Pizza,” “Chinese Take Out,” and “Go to Grandma’s.” My categories were something like this:
Sunday: Grill, Monday: Italian, Tuesday: Son’s favorites, Wednesday: Leftovers/Freezer, Thursday: Daughter’s favorites, Friday: Seafood, Saturday: Mom’s choice.
Next, consult your calendar and make note of which days people will not be home for dinner or you have events that will conflict with mealtime. Then go down the calendar and fill in every blank Sunday with a grilled meal, every Monday with an Italian meal, etc. until the entire month is filled. I advise using pencil for this part, because plans can change. And you might end up having take-out on those nights.
3. Post the dinner calendar in a place where everyone can see it.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes!
Chicken Fried Rice
Makes 4 large servings
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 scallions — greens and whites chopped and separated
1 tablespoon fresh ginger — grated (if you can find ginger in the tube, use that)
2 cloves garlic — minced
1 medium zucchini — diced
3 medium carrots — diced small
2 cups mushrooms — sliced
2 cups broccoli florets — steamed
1 pound chicken breast — cut into thin bite size pieces, seasoned with salt and pepper or Montreal Chicken Seasoning
2 large eggs — lightly beaten
4 cups cooked rice
3 tablespoons low-sodium tamari sauce
Heat oil in large non-stick skillet or wok over medium high heat. When hot, add scallion whites, ginger and garlic and cook for 30 – 45 seconds.
Add zucchini, carrots and mushrooms and cook for 4 – 5 minutes, using spatula to stir vegetables constantly. Remove vegetables from pan and add to steamed broccoli.
Add a bit more oil and add chicken. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, or until no longer pink. Remove the chicken from the pan and add to the vegetables.
Pour the beaten eggs into the skillet and cook until done, stirring or flipping once. Remove eggs from skillet and place on a cutting board. Roughly chop the eggs.
Return the chicken and vegetables to the skillet. Add the cooked rice and stir to combine. Add the tamari sauce and stir to combine. Finally, add the eggs back in, stirring to combine.
Garnish with scallion greens and serve.
This recipe is adapted from the book, “Cook This, Not That”