Revolutionary Menu Planning and KOAB Live!

I love Kosher on a Budget, especially her adorable tag line: Living fruitfully without multiplying your budget.

I was already planning to share a recent blog post of hers with you, when I found out she was coming to speak in my community. The talk, “10 Commandments of Saving Money,” was full of useful information, good friends and lime Perrier! What more could you ask for?

For me, the aha moment actually came AFTER her talk, when others were lining up to ask her more questions. Someone was asking about the difficulty of saving money on organic products, including produce. What Mara, from KOAB, said was this: If you implement the strategies we discussed tonight to save money on your shelf stable and home products, you could open up $150 a month to devote to the higher-cost foods you’d like to purchase. Sounds good to me! Then I can buy the organic, non-GMO corn chips and tortillas, etc… that I know are usually more expensive.

I learned about 12 week sale cycles, coupon matching, and tons of smart phone apps. If she is speaking in your area, go! If you aren’t subscribed to her blog, start now! There are plenty of non-Kosher, non-Jewish people who subscribe to her blog too. It’s just efficient if you do keep kosher because she won’t bother telling you when Oscar Meyer hot dogs are on sale.

The recent blog post of hers that I wanted to discuss with you, my readers – and my family! – is about meal planning. Mara and her family recently moved to a different state and she’d found that meal planning¬† (a real time, sanity and money saver!) had gone out the window. So she decided that for the next month, Sunday – Thursday, they will have a set meal each night. Then…the same pattern/meals will repeat each week, for four weeks. Kids like routine and it’s easier and more efficient to buy groceries this way.

I have definitely thought about this. There are a couple of reasons I haven’t implemented it until now:

1. What if we can’t agree on five meals? If my kids had their choice of set meals, they would be mac and cheese, hot dogs, pizza, etc… I only want to serve one of those types of meals per week because even that amount of unhealthy food is so stressful for me.

2. It’s party of my job – part of my blog, my book (which will have TONS of recipes), etc… to experiment with new recipes from others and create my own on an ongoing basis. How could I even pick only 5 and then leave myself only two days (Shabbat, really) to experiment?

However, one of the upcoming programs/services I want to offer to my readers is to help them make their own family cookbook. That will take a lot of mystery and conflict out of the nightly meal and put all of your go-to recipes in one place. For me, right now that one place (for my own recipes, anyway), is the draft of my recipe chapter on my computer. I can’t wait to have that in book form for my own use – and yours!

I want the process of developing this cookbook to be an adventure. Let’s take the fight out of it with our kids and set things up so that it is an experiment, a journey to enjoy, where they get to give their opinions and votes. They are more likely to taste something if we want to know exactly why they do or don’t like it.

At the end of the day, I think Mara’s idea is brilliant. The five meals could change each month. There could be an experimental week in between. There are lots of possibilities. I like being intentional around food and this is definitely intentional and empowering, for everyone in the family.

So, what would my five meals be? I have more than five ideas of course! Here are some (feel free to request specific recipes…most are in the upcoming HFHY book):

1. Spaghetti made from beans (adzuki, black bean, soybean, mung bean), with homemade, raw tomato sauce.

2.¬† Kris Carr’s “Save the tuna” salad sandwiches with a side of sauteed Portobella mushrooms.

3. Cheeseless veggie pizza.

4. Homemade veggie burgers (or Dr. Praeger’s Kale burgers) with homemade sweet potato fries.

5. Spanish rice and fajitas.

6. My becoming famous vegan lasagna.

7. Tofu chicken parmesan with roasted green beans.

8. Tofu scramble or frittata with sprouted Ezekiel toast.

9. Mama soup.

10. Easy Chinese dinner.

I think I’m going to try this! Of course I have my own favorites and easy standby’s. The kids change their minds about what they like every day. The experts say that consistency helps them develop tastes for what you want them to… I have to admit that it’s always one big experiment around here and that causes me a lot more work. If I could really determine what my kids would eat without a fight – that I approve of – I’d be willing to be limited on what I make five days a week.

Do you have set meals already? If not, are you going to try? What are they?