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Menu Planning and Creativity

November 19, 2014 , , ,


Black Sphinx dates

Black Sphinx dates

I recently reached the conclusion that I have never in my life done menu planning. I love to cook and be creative, and I also aspire to healthy eating. I own so many cookbooks they are running out my ears, and I am tuned in to all kinds of digital food situations including television’s Food Network. I have never examined why I don’t follow recipes and don’t do meal planning even though my food life is very big.  I tweet about dishes and preparations with my friends at #Mmgd all year. We sometimes gather under that hashtag for twitter parties that include recipes and pictures. Some of us have met in real life, but all of us are food friends forever. Digital food is non threatening and completely calorie free.

I like to watch people make food at least as much as I like to eat it. Iron Chef was always popular at our house, as are many of the holiday specials traditional to this time of year. On weekends we take in all manner of victuals visually before we venture out to taste anything in real life.  We follow our instincts and our mood to decide where to dine or which farmers market to attend.  We have favorites but are always on the lookout for new places to try.  We don’t like to overeat, but enjoy being very gourmet in our selections.

ripe calamondins

ripe calamondins

I now see that my aversion to menu planning has been an excuse to avoid realistic assessment of my diet. I eat well, and shop pretty well, but the specific desire to freestyle every meal I prepare is a real flaw. I have been pretending that I need to be plan free in order to reach my creative potential as a chef.  Nothing could be less realistic.  Chefs know how they will use ingredients and tightly budget to make the most of all the provisions they purchase.  I shop with wild abandon and then later I must put it all together and avoid waste.  I am going to shift the emphasis from improvisation on random seasonal ingredients to balanced menu planning.  I will still have a wild card from the fresh produce in season and in abundance.  I will not be entirely without my creative hobby, but will elevate my planning to a more strategic level.  I will still be spontaneous, but for the first time I will be working with a plan.  What a concept!! How do you like to arrange your food preparation, gentle reader? Do you follow a plan, or like to freestyle in the kitchen?  Do you make up your own meal plans or take advise from other sources?   Bon Appetite!  May your days be tasty and bright!

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I am like you.. tons of cookbooks used as inspiration and not a lot of menu planning. Only if I am cooking something that needs to have a lot of ingredients or TIME spent on it do I think about that.. but eventually I have to figure out to serve more than just meat or a salad! I find that my downfall is shopping since it is in that area that I want to cook… and I don’t always find the best recipes or balance of food to cook


Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

November 23, 2014

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