Monday, January 31, 2011

Me and the Boy Scouts

Millie writes:

Well, I have actually been involved in Boy Scouting, Girl Scouting and Camp Fire Girls – but that's not what this post is about. This post is about Being Prepared: The Camp Cook Way.

Today is the last day of the month, which means it's Menu Time. I plan our meals a month in advance; it makes it easier to shop and I don't have to think each morning, “What on earth am I going to make for dinner tonight?”

I use a desktop publishing program and type each meal into a square on the next month's calendar, then print it out and hang it on the fridge. This is also a good way to be sure I'm prepared for any special occasions (we have two birthdays in February) or holidays (the two birthdays are the two days following Valentine's Day) which call for a special meal. I can also look at the menu calendar before I go to bed each night to see if there's anything I should take out to thaw for the next day's dinner.

Theoretically, having this calendar posted publicly also makes it easy for a family member to see what's planned so they can start dinner if they're feeling the urge . . . I can't remember the last time that's happened, though! I've noticed that they do pay very close attention to what's coming up, however, because occasionally I will hear something like, “All right! We're having Spanish Rice tomorrow!”

Things like that do a Millie's heart good.

You could also keep your menu on your laptop, or in your planner, or wherever you are likely to remember to look. I have also made up a “Master Menu List” - sounds fancy, but it's merely a page filled with every main dish that I know how to cook without too much bother. If I'm not feeling inspired when making up the monthly menu I can refer to the Master List; or (if I have a lot of time on my hands) leaf through a cookbook or troll some recipe sites online to find something new that looks good.

There are a few shortcuts on my calendar. Every Wednesday is Date Night, and Lance and I go out to dinner – who ever is still here fends for himself. Every other Friday is pizza night. Every Saturday is “seafood” Saturday, for which the rule is: If you see it, you can eat it – a good way to consume leftovers. I also earmark a day or to for grocery shopping, when we usually grab a hot dog at Costco or a dollar burger at a fast-food spot. Of course there are “long-cuts” too – almost every Sunday is Formal Dinner night, when we cook something fancy and practice our table manners.

If you are really on the ball, when you make up your menu list you can also make up your shopping list for the month. I tend to do a major grocery trip every 2 weeks, with a run to the store every couple of days for fresh produce and milk.

Well, I'd better post this and go let everyone know that I'm about to make up the menu, so if they want to eat anything specific next month they'd better let me know today. This way we can head into February with at least one thing crossed off the list!

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