Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Joys of Menu Planning and a Give Away - My Happy List Tuesday

It's been a couple of weeks since I participated in My Happy List Tuesday. 
Here's what's been making me happy these days. 

The school year is almost upon us. Last year, I spent much of the year lunch-less. I worked straight through the day and found myself ravenous once the last student had left my charge. This was good - I had a lot of work to do and it was easier to get it done without taking the time for lunch. I also spent more time with students. This was bad - I didn't eat as well as is good for me and I missed out on the bonding time with colleagues.

After school there is always a maze of appointments and things to do. Evening meals proved to also be a challenge.

This year I decided I would take the bull by the horns and do something I hadn't done in years - make weekly meal plans. There was a point when I was reading a lot of books about home organization and all of them recommended a weekly meal plan. My reasons for resisting trying this included the inability to take advantage of deals at the green grocer or fish market - a reason that never stood up to examination. Once tried, it was clear that weekly menu plans simplified life. Even the odd daily deal could be accommodated by pushing the plans back one day. It should have been a no brainer to continue this plan. Yet, it's been years since a weekly menu has been in residence here.

Enter Just Bento, a website dedicated to the art of packing lunch boxes, Japanese style. It's a wonderful site full of great resources. One of the personally most helpful parts of the website were the meal planning PDFs. These PDFs were what inspired me to get back on the horse with weekly meal planning. After looking at them, I made my own forms that addressed the needs of my family. The form includes a checklist for protein sources and one for color balance. It helps me to see visually that I am creating a varied menu. There is also a check list for items to be made the night before. The next step is shopping list.

A few weeks ago we took a trip to Ebisuya, a Japanese grocery store in Medford, MA. It's a wonderful store with a very wide range of Japanese foods. In the book section of the store was the Just Bento book! I snatched it up. Even though our stash of o-bentou making supplies is prodigious, some new tools ended up in the grocery cart.

I bought some boiled egg molds. You open the up, place the raw egg inside, snap closed and boil. Presto – a rabbit or bear shaped boiled egg! Cute, right?

Meanwhile, I have been trying out an app called Snap Recipes for tackling the large stack of loose recipes that has defied organization. The app allows you to take up to five photos of the clipped recipe and add information. Tagging the recipes make them searchable by type. The elimination of that stack of clipped recipes and the ease of mobile access to them makes this a real win. It has helped me to work on this project on the go.

Last week I did a trial run of week one menu plan. I hope to eliminate some of the kinks of my system and see where my problems lay. Eventually I hope to have at least four weeks of lunch plans to choose from.

And here’s the give away!

Tools for making your lunch special!

Cookie cutters you can use for cookies, sandwiches, omelets, carrots and more. There are even message stamps – it’s like scrapbooking your food!

Want to win one of these prizes? Subscribe to my blog and leave a comment below with your email. I will select the winners on September 15th. 

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  1. Wow, I went to the site and I think this is a great idea! And I can't tell you how much help I need....my daughter is attending a private Montessori high school, and she can only take healthy food and snacks. The warm catered meals haven't started yet, and she won't like what's being served everyday once it starts. This is brilliant!!!

    LOL You've made me happy!!!

    Thanks for linking-up, my dear!


  2. So glad that it was helpful. Every year I promise myself that I'm going to get organized about these things, but somehow I couldn't pull it together. I still have a lot of tweaking to do, but I'm on my way. I started using an app on my phone called MealBoard. I can plan out my meals for the week, make a grocery list, have my recipes and keep track of my pantry. It will take me a while to really use all of it, but I'm working on it.

    Glad to add to your happy list!

  3. I love the Bento box concept. I had no idea there was a cookbook. Thanks for sharing the idea, it will be perfect for school. Love the cute cookie cuters, too.

    1. Glad to hear you liked my post. I must confess that I have many books on preparing O-Bentos - in English and in Japanese. This one is really helpful as it is geared toward making lunches with the more easily procured ingredients and it is just so well organized.

      Happy lunch making to you!


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