Thursday, December 31, 2009

Meal planning

Menu planning takes quite a lot of patience and attention to detail.
I still use recipe books and magazines for inspiration, but I often find that I hone in on one or two key ingredients and then my imagination and experience takes over. Sometimes what I make is a great success. Sometimes a disaster; it's edible, and fills the gap, but it is not something I will make again - or share with you!
So I go about my ten-point planning like this:
1.  In any seven day cycle, I will have 2 chicken dishes, 2 fish dishes, 2 vegetarian dishes and 1 'other'. The 'other' dish may be another chicken, fish or veg dish, but it is usually a red meat meal
2.  Each meal must come with a different starch - bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, couscous etc.
3.  If a starch is repeated in a seven day cycle, then there must be at least two full meals between repetitions.
4.  If there is no animal protein in the meal, then there must be a combination of foods that provide all the necessary amino acids.
5.  There must be at least three vegetables in or with the dish.
6.  There must be a small amount of fat: I seldom cook with added oil, I would certainly never add animal fat, other than that occuring naturally in the animal protein.
7.  There must be fibre.
8. Each recipe must be 'new' - there will obviously be similarities, these will inevitably happen. But not often enough for you to get tired of them - and they are only similarities.
9.  Ingredients must be readily available - I'm not going to make a special trip to buy one item. OK, I do go to the Chinese market occassionally.
10.  Nothing must keep me in the kitchen for more than 45mins. I am basically a lazy cook - recipes have to be simple and quick. And not make too much mess.

It takes time. But I enjoy the challenge of cooking something different every night.
I hope you will, too.

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