Monday, April 27, 2009

Menu Monday

Once upon a time, there was a mom of young children who hated cooking dinner. Well, not hated it, really, just didn't feel very "together" in that area. There were so many other demands on her time! When she went to the grocery store with her kids, she would put them in the kiddy cart (after getting a free cookie for each child from the bakery!) and quickly zip through the store, grabbing whatever struck her fancy or was on sale. She would drag it all home, shove it in fridge, freezer and pantry, already full of food but such a hodge-podge that none of it really made a recipe. Each day at about Oprah:30, she would go in the kitchen, systematically open the pantry, then the freezer, then the refrigerator, and wonder what was for dinner. Some evenings it came together. Other evenings, not so much. So, she would call a local restaurant (usually Chili's or On the Border), place an order and put it under her husband's name, then call her husband at work and tell him where to pick up dinner on the way home.

As a mom of young children, this mother was a member of a MOPS group in her area. In order to meet some of the other moms and to minister to them after they had new babies, she would occasionally sign up to bring a meal to them. Eventually her own family learned that if there was roast with all the trimmings, or a yummy casserole, or anything that took thought or planning, she must be taking dinner to someone else. Her husband would come in, smell something good, and ask half-jokingly, "Who are you taking dinner to tonight?" Of course, if she was going to go to the trouble to make it, she would always make extra for her family, so they began to enjoy their mom's newfound "food ministry", and it truly blessed all involved.

This mom began to realize the pattern... if she planned it out, bought the ingredients and tried hard enough, she could put a decent meal on the table. She just found her motivation in doing it for other people more than doing it for her own family. Something felt wrong about this. So she did the only thing she knew to do in situations like this: she prayed. She prayed that God would help her put order in this very important area of her life. She prayed that He would simply help her to want to cook for her family. She prayed for the energy she would need each day in the late afternoon to actually go into the kitchen and do it. She prayed that she would find recipes that were doable for her and that her young children would enjoy. She prayed that her family would no longer see her best efforts as always being for "other people."

As you have probably figured out, that mom was me. That was the beginning, years ago, of my venture into menu planning. I figured out that it was really no big deal, no harder than planning vacations, planning lessons for my Bible Study group, planning playdates with friends... or any of the other myriad of types of planning that was involved in mothering. It just took a few moments to look ahead, focus on this very important part of the day, make a list, stick to it at the store, and discipline myself in the late afternoon to get it done. It has blessed me as a mom tremendously to take the dinner hour seriously enough to put some forethought into it and prioritize it. God has taken my meager efforts and cooking skills and multiplied them into what my family has needed them to be. And all of this is to His glory, because I was not always like this! This has been His doing, completely! I shared this because I think it's easy to read someone's blog and assume they've always been this way, or think "Well, that's just how she is. That's not my gift." Though all gifts are from the Lord, and no one has a talent that God did not give them, I think for certain things like scrapbooking, wreath-making, or book writing we can say, "Good for her, but that's not for me." But as women we are all called to "look well to the ways of our households" according to Proverbs 31, and providing meals for our families is one of those ways. So, we would all do well to take this particular role seriously, and then God gets the glory for doing something that we couldn't or didn't do ourselves. The fewer skills or enthusiasm we bring to the table (pun intended) the more we know that God Himself has done it!

SO, by God's grace, here is my plan for the week:

Monday: A Happy Birthday dinner for my husband- his favorite chicken enchiladas, black beans, corn, and a German Chocolate cake
Tuesday: Ye-Assa We't (Spicy Fish Stew) from Exotic Ethiopian Cooking, injera, salad
Wednesday: Chicken Pesto Panini's (my simplified version with shaved chicken and done on the George Foreman grill), healthy/organic sweet potato fries and onion rings from Super Target, pasta salad
Thursday: YOYO (You're on your own... Everyone eats leftovers or makes something for themselves. I LOVE this night!)
Friday: Slow Cooked Corn Chowder, crusty wheat rolls

For more menu ideas or to share your own, visit Laura at I'm an Organizing Junkie. Have a wonderful week!


kristinleighkelly said...

It's not your menu planning that makes me's your crafty use of adjectives. Crusty. Healthy. Slow Cooked. Very Martha Stewart!

Cyndi said...

Use of adjectives: It's a good thing.


kristinleighkelly said...

Ha! Just try to stay out of the slammer!

Jill said...

Cyndi, Your journey is very similar to mine. I can't imagine not planning meals at this point. I so wished someone would have taught me when I first was married that there was a better way than the 'look in the cupboard and guess' method. I know that my girls will know a different way.

Jerri - Simply Sweet Home said...

Your menu sounds delicious!

Daisy said...

I'm visiting you blog after MONTHS of crazy busyness...this post and the one on "But He gives greater grace" is JUST what I needed to hear! I'm so encouraged by this post -- I currently AM that once-upon-a-time mom you described. In fact, I was pretty discouraged last week! It's been a greater struggle since my hubby has been out traveling lot and I'm not one who could just throw things together like some people I know...BUT -- as usual :) -- your experiences and gleaned wisdom ;) give me hope!! Am inspired once again to really plan and get creative!