Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is your child a foodie? If not, consider menu planning.

"Do you cook every night?" my good friend recently asked me this as she was scooping some boxed macaroni & cheese lunch for our hungry kids. We were having a play-date, but honestly it is as much a play-date for the mommies as it is for the kiddies. Anyway... my friend is a recent sahm and she thought with her new arrangement she would be cooking more, but she continued to say, "I am a short-order cook". She complained that her kids are so picky and they only eat a few things.

To be honest, it is because of my friend that I have been so diligent in not becoming a short order cook. When I was pregnant years ago with my oldest, I was having dinner at this friend's house and her hubby made an amazing dinner. He is a great cook. He loves to experiment for dinner guests and was trying a new recipe on us. But their oldest would not try it, not even a bite. They didn't push the issue instead they made her a Nutella sandwich. You read that right...NUTELLA sandwich. I was horrified and vowed quietly that that would not happen in my house...

Three years later I can honestly say it hasn't. Maybe it is just her personality, but my 3 year old eats whatever I put on her plate and always has. Asparagus...devours it...kale...more please...and on and on. I will admit pasta is her favorite food and she would become a noodle if she could, but there isn't a green veggie that she won't eat. I introduced foods to her slowly about 6 months of age. We used a few jars, but mostly we made our own baby food. We started with mashed bananas and sweet potatoes and by a year she was eating pretty much what I made for dinner except it was pureed.

Enter Menu Planning.
When dd was born my husband and I decided that I would stay at home. Prior to her birth , we ate out quite a bit, because we were both working long hours and neither of us would feel like cooking. Going to one salary kicked our restaurant habit out the window and I needed to cook more often. I always loved to cook and now I had more time at home to do so. I also like to try new recipes, mostly from Cooking Light magazine or the Food Network. I started planning our menu around simple yet yummy recipes from these sources. I like to use fresh ingredients and we are members of CSA which provides us with seasonal ingredients that I might not normally buy. Over the years I have relied on a handful of recipes that are now my go-to meals. I know my family likes them and they are simple, easy and time-saving.

Over the last few months I have become even more diligent with my menu-planning. When I was running to the grocery store several times a week to pick up dinner ingredients, I said ENOUGH, and found myself a calendar and I began to map out our meals. I also refer to the grocery ads, but I mostly refer to my binder of the recipes that we love.

I like to think that my dd is a 3 year old foodie. I also like to think that my menu-planning helped create her love of food.

Has menu-planning helped your family in ways other than saving you money?

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