Part of the absolute joy of following Woman's Day besides the comfort of tradition is their pre-planned meals each month. The advantages have impressed several ares of my life and I would really like to share how it has affected me:
1. The menus being printed out ahead of time and organized into sections per week is so efficient and convenient for someone who had ADHD and struggles with organization and time management, not to mention memory.
2. The menus are planned in such a way that one odd ball ingredient goes into several things. For instance, if you buy Hoisin sauce and use a tablespoon for one recipe, you don't scoot it into the door of your refrigerator and then a year later, pull it out and throw it away when you do your annual scrub (or...is that just me?). In buying those vegetables, condiments, and sauces you actually USE them which brings me to my next several points.
3. You learn how to cook naturally. After using the previously mentioned Hoisin sauce for a recipe, I came home one day needing to make something fast. I decided to make stir fry. Because of the practice you get in making meals even just three or four times a week, you learn what works together, the chemistry of food, and the special touches of chef specialties that make meals a delight. That particular evening was the first time I made a meal that tasted like restaurant food. My stir fry was just like going to a Japanese steak house. I was amazed.
4. Because you are using all your groceries, you are saving money. I buy one or two simple items for breakfast and have enough leftovers and groceries to make simple or complex lunches and snacks. You are wasting less, learning new skills and recipes, and gradually making your own versions of recipes and building a repertoire
5. I'm eating healthy. The meals that are scheduled usually consist of lean meats, vegetables, and natural foods. I always try to buy local to make my meals including my produce, meats, and items like honey or nuts. I get to see how many calories are in a serving and I get to constantly acknowledge what a serving actually looks like. We overeat in the United States and I feel better controlling my portions and not wasting food.
I think the menus could be a problem for large families or working moms who don't have much time to cook. There is a lot of discipline and practice in chopping vegetables ahead of time as well as other prep, and don't even get me started on the dishes. I luckily have a helpful partner who does his share if not more of the housework even though we both work.
Also the menus could be an issue for people who are picky eaters. I don't have that problem, thankfully. We do have food allergies in the household and I am just as equally thankful that we have learned how to make gluten free pizza crusts for all the fabulous Woman's Day pizzas and found fantastic wheat-free pasta options.
This particular night I enjoyed yet another unusual concept that I had never tried--fried spaghetti. We were able to pick up a big package of spaghetti at Sam's Club so I just picked up zucchini, parsley, and Parmesan.
I was a little skeptical at first of the possible results--there is no real sauce and it's very simple if you can get the hang of the frying and the flipping (the recipe suggests a lined baking sheet--I suggest a pizza pan with aluminum foil) but the results were a pleasant surprise.
I enjoyed one serving with a salad and local tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and my mom's garden basil.
It's been a journey to get to a place where you routinely cook, set the table, and (EEK!) wash dishes every night but the peace and enjoyment of the fruits are a reward, just like everything else in life.
May everything we accomplish in life produce leftovers that do not disappoint.