Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Master Menu

Master Menu

Back in June I attended an enrichment meeting and learned about this really cool way to plan meals. It's called a "Master Menu," and the concept is that you create 28 day (or 4 weeks) of meals and every month you repeat the menu. It sounds repetitive, but you only eat each meal 12 times every year- not that often!

Themed Meals

The Master Menu idea gets even better because you organize the meals so that they are intuitive, by assigning each day a theme. For example, Monday is "Beef", Tuesday is "Breakfast", Wednesday is "Mexican", etc. So each Monday you might not remember what you are making, but you know it's beef, so you can anticipate how long it will take to make, and after a few months you do have it memorized because the first Monday of every month is always the same meal.

Side Dishes

The final way to simplify meal preparation is to assign side dishes. If you are general then you have more flexibility and can still have variety without much additional thought or planning. For example, every night we have Mexican food we have corn and rice. Some nights we will have creamed corn, some nights corn on the cob, some nights canned corn, etc.; similar story with rice, some nights Spanish rice, some nights we will have rice in burritos, some nights we will have rice and beans, but I know that I need enough rice and enough corn on the shelf that I can serve it once a week. That makes food storage easier too!

My Master Menu

I like variety, so I've created an 8 week master menu. Here's what mine looks like:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Theme Beef Breakfast Mexican Italian Chicken Other
Side Potatoes
Juice Corn
Green Bean
Garlic Bread
Pink Stuff
1 Hamburger French Toast Taco Ring Lasagna Yogurt Chicken Lettuce Wrap
2 Steak Omelets, Cinnamon Rolls Tacos Calzones Chicken Parmesan Chicken Croquette
3 BBQ Beef Waffles Beef Enchiladas Chicken Alfredo Orange Chicken German Pancakes
4 Kabobs Breakfast Burritos Chicken Enchiladas Stromboli Moroccan Chicken Pork Chops
5 Meatloaf Breakfast Casserole Fajitas Spaghetti Cordon Bleu Ravioli
6 Café Rio Pancakes Nachos/ Taco Salad Spaghetti Pie Sweet & Sour, Rice BBQ Ribs
7 Meatball Sandwich Crepes Mexican Pizza Pizza Chicken Monterey Brazilian Dinner
8 Sloppy Joe Quiche Chimmichanga Stuffed Shells Teriyaki Big Salad

Life happens and  we don’t always stick to the menu, but when it’s time to shop for the week or time to cook dinner, I know what’s on the menu, and I know that we have the ingredients to make what’s on the menu. I also know that when there is a great sale on spaghetti sauce, I should buy enough for at least 8 meals every menu cycle. The master menu has really simplified my meal prep. Another technique that has simplified meal preparation is using homemade mixes.


I have recently started using the Make-A-Mix Cookery book to make my own mix, to further simplify meal preparation. The book lists some “master mixes” which are usually dry ingredients that you mix n a large volume and then store. You make the mix whenever you have time, store them, and when you are ready to make a dish, you add a few additional ingredients to the master mix. It’s all the convenience of a store-bought mix without the extra cost.

I love to have a variety of foods, but it’s not worth all the mess of measuring cups and spoons just to have biscuits for breakfast, or to have rolls for dinner. With mixes, I make a mess when I make the master mix, but when I am ready to make biscuits, I just measure the mix and add water, or to make rolls, measure the mix, add a few other ingredients, and I’m ready to bake.

Future Plans

Bruce interviewed in Houston, TX with Deloitte about 2 weeks ago, and just returned from a interview with Ernst & Young in Houston. Both have offered him an internship in January. He had not decided which offer he will accept, but we do know that we will be in Houston from January until March or April. We will live with Bruce brother’s family while we are on internship. About 90% of internships lead to a job, so it’s likely we will have a job offer following the internship.

Hailey continues to grow. She’s really mastered walking. Sometimes I’ll be outside working on a project, turn around, and have to go hunting for Hailey. A few times she have even made it to the house in front of our complex, which is too close to the road for my comfort. She has also started to form some preferences, which she vocalizes. Today when I told her not to play in the toilet and took her out of the bathroom, she arched her back and cried- a little tantrum. She’s cute and we love that she can interact with us.
We’re done mowing, so I’ve just been a stay at home mom. I thought I might get bored, but I’ve found plenty to do so far.
Play Group
We go to playgroup with some other moms and kids in the ward a few times a week. We always have an activity which is funny because most of our kids are too young to do more than toddle around and steal toy from one another. We have had finger painting, a leaf walk to collect leaves and then rub them, Cheerio necklaces (Hailey loved that one. I made the necklace she ate it. Other kids had a necklace, she ate it, too.), mummy hot dogs (for Halloween), and will have hot cocoa this week. I really enjoy the time to chat with other moms and it’s good for Hailey to have the social outing.

She loves going for walks and climbing the stairs!
Every Thursday we go to toddler story time at the public library. Hailey LOVES that. Sometimes she can sit through the whole story time, but usually she wanders around watching other kids and looking at books. A few days ago Bruce and I were in the kitchen when Bruce noticed Hailey in the living room. She was sitting on the floor reading a book all by herself. It was a Kodak moment.
Thanks for the bows, Sarah! We have so much fun choosing which bow to put in her hair (she doesn't like the ponytail, but doesn't mind the bow).

Home Projects
When we are not socializing Hailey, I’ve completed a few projects at home. I made a new cover for Hailey’s high chair and will make a second one, as well as a plastic cover. I made a hooded towel for a friend’s baby shower. I put a plastic cover on the scooter seat so it will be dry (well, mostly dry once you brush the snow off). I put plastic on the windows. We don’t have double panes and have found the srink-wrap window plastic really helps insulate the apartment. I’ve also read a few books and have a stack from the library to work through, and this week I will start some family history work.
School and Work
School continues to be demanding for Bruce, but his boss has found a replacement for him and this will be his last week of work.


Hailey was a duck for Halloween. The costume was so cute, but the soles of her feet were fabric, so she slipped every time she was on a smooth surface. We had a ward party in the gym at the church, so she slipped regularly. We had a good laugh but in the end had mercy and took it off. They broke a piñata at the ward party and let the kids (all 8 that are in our ward) get candy. Hailey picked up as many suckers as she could carry, but dropped them all when she finally got one open. We didn’t go trick-or-treating, so the ward party was the extent of our festivities.
Bruce dressing Hailey in her duck costume (above). Hailey walking in her costume (below).