As housewives, one of the challenges that we will encounter is around thinking of what to cook for our family. And we all have our own menu planning scheme that we employ.
When we get home from work, we still have to deal with various household chores. Keeping the place tidy, preparing the laundry and looking after the kids and their school activities. It’s already a full time job.
But that doesn’t stop there… we still have to prepare dinner for the family. But, what to cook?
In the Philippines, when you don’t have time to prepare food, there are always those carinderias down at the corner or take-out kiosks on your way home. Here there are no turo-turo, binalot or whatever. Fastfood is not that accessible and definitely NOT that “fast”. Also, it can get real expensive, real fast – if you do it regularly.
Although there are those ready-to-cook frozen food available and ready to pop in the microwave, of course you don’t want to feed your family with processed and preserved food all the time.
So, you cook. At first, it’s easy to think of something. Whatever you’re craving for or whatever food is you kid’s favorite. That will be on the menu. But as time goes on, the kids will tire off the same food on the table. Eating again what they had few days ago.
To avoid this, I came up with a menu scheme.
Color Coding in Menu Planning
You know you grew up in the Philippines when your kitchen menu is based on how traffic is managed in Manila.
As the name implies, the menu is based on the appearance or dominant color of the food.
Orange – These dishes are mostly tomato-based. It can be anything with tomato sauce or atchuete. From menudo, afritada, caldereta, giniling and to any orange food you can think of.
Brown – dishes that are usually soya sauce-based, be it a dash or spoonfuls, falls under this category. You can include typical Filipino dishes – adobo, beef steak, humba, asado, etc.
Clear – This group includes nilaga, sinigang, tinola with a combination of different vegetables or any add-on that is avalable in the kitchen.
Green – These are dishes where the main ingredients are vegetables. Sauteed beans or spinach, brocolli with oyster sauce, chop suey, and pinakbet are some of the dishes that fall under this group.
Fried – Most kids’ favorite. Fried chicken. Who can ever miss that? You can also include fried fish fillet, pork chop or tonkatsu. Add in a fried egg or scrambled egg in there as well..
You can vary the meat for each dish as well. Alternate between pork, chicken, beef and fish. Just to diversify it a bit.
If I’m too busy and tired, some canned goods like spam, sardines or corned beef will do. Ocassionally, I will cook bacon, ham, sausage or hotdog as the last resort.
It is best to prepare the menu ahead of time to avoid last-minute preparation. But, of course, if my kids are craving for a specific dish, one that is not planned, I am flexible as long as they will be able to eat healthy and nutritious food.
Share with us your insights and any other ideas on menu planning.
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