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OTHER ITA SITES:
Menu Planning When You're Short on Time
When my wife and I were engaged, we envisioned the romantic daily routines of married life: waking up together in the morning, taking walks together and of course Ė making and eating great food together. Of course our house would be clean, our fridge fully stocked, and our daily menus perfectly planned.
Then reality set in.
I was finishing school and had a job on top of that, and of course she was working as well. We barely had enough time together to remember we were married, not to mention go through all the planning required to have that perfectly organized home you read about in all those magazines. We struggled to decide what to eat every night, and even though we always bought a cartload of groceries every week at the supermarket, we usually ended up throwing out much of it when it spoiled.
After two years of eating out, we eventually grew tired of all the restaurants in town and decided to try cooking again. We were visiting a friend and noticed a chart on their refrigerator: they had planned out dinner menus for two weeks of meals, and they would rotate a menu every other week. Monday was pasta, Tuesday was Chinese, etc. Below the menu they listed all the ingredients they would need for the meal and that served as their shopping list. So once a week they would go through the list, check off anything they already had, and then go shopping. We found out that they were spending about half as much on food every month as we were.
So we decided to try it. We sat down and planned dinners for three weeks. We tried to make one meal from the leftover ingredients of the night before, and we usually had enough leftovers for lunch the next day. It worked wonderfully! We saved hundreds of dollars a month, and by choosing easy recipes we saved time as well.
Not too long ago I started working for a company called DVO Enterprises. They have created a cookbook software program that makes things even easier. We can drag and drop recipes into a menu and the program automatically generates a shopping list, organized by store aisle. I can then look at the leftover ingredients from a meal and get suggested recipes for them. We even imported some of our favorite cookbooks into it, and some recipes from their site that looked good. I donít buy software very often, but this one has paid for itself many times over. Itís called Cookín, and is available here: http://www.dvo.com/cookbooksoftware.html
Good luck with your menu planning!
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