Categorized | Cooking during the week

I Hate Meal Planning

Posted on 12 July 2010

I Hate Meal Planning

Meal Planning Primer for Jewish Homes…The Basics, some Advice, and then some Fun!

Meal Planning Basics

Meal Planning is not rocket science. But for some, (like me) it is hard to sit down and take out a calendar, marking what you will be having for dinner each day.

It’s a necessary evil because as you know, it is easy to eat unhealthy foods when mealtime shows up and you have nothing to show for it!

What I like to do is work backwards. Take out a calendar and go back to to last week. What did you have for dinner each night last week? Try to remember? If you threw a quick pot of macaroni and cheese on, then write that down.

Writing what you already know is somewhat easier than coming up with fresh new ideas.

HOWEVER, if you have a great cookbook in front of you, it doesn’t have to be so hard!

There are several great kosher cookbooks as I’m sure you know, the only thing you have to supplement is that they don’t usually talk about the logistics of meal planning, providing the charts and lists necessary to do so, because it is a book of recipes! Lucky for you, you CAN get the organizing aspect to food and recipes by signing up for Shabbos Perfectly Organized, my ebook that talks about making Shabbos organized with a focus on meal planning!

Click here for a sample meal plan I put together for the next 4 Shabbosim.

So, if you have a great cookbook in front of you, go ahead and pick out recipes for dinners for the next week (or at least for Shabbos!). Then, make a grocery list of what you will need to make the dinners.

Meal Planning Advice

(Don’t be like me! my girlfriend advice to you)

For some reason, I’ve always hated meal planning. I think it is because I’m a naturally creative and free spirit type of personality and forcing myself to sit down and think of meals is a bit restrictive for me.

I’m working on knowing and remembering that meal planning is not just meal planning at face value. It is spiritual work. And I’m not only referring to Shabbos meal planning which is obviously spiritual. I’m talking weekday dinners too.

I was talking about this issue with Madeline Binder of Madeline Binder’s Book of Kosher Recipes and here’s what she and I discussed. She wanted to give the beginners out there some background information on meal planning for Shabbos.

Shabbos for Beginners

“The Jewish homemaker faces a unique and rewarding set of challenges. Not only must she tend to the physical well-being of her family, but also to its spiritual health! Her faith encourages large families but also requires a regular observance of Jewish holidays. Sometimes, meeting all these requirements can be a formidable task, but it is also a tremendous opportunity for growth and for doing good to her loved ones.

Shabbos takes place every week from sundown on Friday to the arrival of night on Saturday. This day of prayer and celebration places special responsibilities on the Jewish homemaker. She has the honor of lighting candles during the afternoon of the Friday before Shabbat begins, and she is in charge of preparing the three meals eaten in celebration of this occasion. Preparation for the Shabbat is the time to take out those Delicious Recipes and cook some heartwarming food!

Jewish custom requires every meal of the Shabbat to begin with two loaves of bread. The braided challah bread is ideal for the occasion and is used in most Jewish families. The Jewish homemaker also frequently prepares a meat or fish dish as a main course in each of the three Shabbos meals. A dairy-based dish might also be included in the lighter third meal, the Seudah Shlishit.

In the Jewish tradition, food is a means to spiritual health as well as physical health. (That’s the whole point!)Kosher foods are made in accordance with Jewish laws that prohibit the combination of meat and dairy products in the meal. Furthermore, in preparing Kosher foods, one cannot use the same utensils for preparing meat and dairy dishes. Non-kosher foods are not permitted in the household if the family is observant.

According to halakha, or Jewish law, both birds and mammals are a part of the “meat” category, whereas fish are not; fish are classified as “pareve” and are distinct from either meat or dairy. The meat of animals such as the hare and pig is also prohibited, along with shellfish and scavenger fish. For a food to be classified as Kosher, it must pass inspection by a Rabbi and be confirmed to be in accord with halakha.

Keeping Kosher places an additional set of challenges upon the Jewish homemaker. But these limitations do not prevent the making of great foods that all will enjoy. Over thousands of years, Jewish cuisine has evolved a set of dishes which follow Kosher guidelines while exhibiting immense diversity and wonderful taste. (So even if you are new to keeping a Jewish home, your food doesn’t have to give it away.)”

That’s why I like Madeline Binder’s Book of Jewish Recipes because the recipes listed are not only delicious and traditionally Jewish, they get me in touch with the spiritual side of meal planning that I often need to be reminded of.

You can also take a look at a collection of popular free healthy Shabbos recipes put together by my friend Sarah Zeldman of Healthy Shabbat.

Meal Planning Fun

Not everyone grew up cooking with their Bubby, and that’s okay. You can cook with Madeline’s Bubby’s recipes! I also want you to read this encouraging poem if you didn’t grow up with those fond memories…

Whatever your knowledge of your Jewish roots are or were, don’t fret. Just because you may or may not have been aware of them doesn’t mean you were alone.

Read my friend Leah’s inspiring poem that she wrote just for me and my readers. I have “complained” to her before about not having fond memories of being in the kitchen and that is why I have a page on my website called “I Hate Meal Planning”.

I want to encourage those of you without those fond memories and instill inside of you a sense of belonging and togetherness with the rest of our Jewish Life Organized readers knowing that you are not alone 🙂

Preparing for Shabbos

Watch our popular video “Shabbos Company” here at this link…

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