Posted by: Amanda | February 15, 2011

Food for thought: to menu plan or not to menu plan

When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”

Lily enjoys dinner with her Izze.


Unless some miracle happens involving the multiplying of loaves and fish, someone has to decide what and how the family is going to eat around my place. That someone is usually me. Who knew that feeding a family (all that goes into providing food) would be such an ordeal? The planning, the shopping, the budgeting, the prepping, the shopping for milk again, the cooking, the eating, the shopping for milk again, the cleaning, a quick run to HEB for bananas–it never ends.

I read some of the frugalista mom blogs with their menu plans, their coupon craziness, their borderline obsessive shopping techniques, and I decided to try to be more organized. And, I do like having a menu plan. But, my menu plan is more of a rough idea of what we might have rather than a “we will eat this no matter what” mandate. There’s some flexibility in my plans (as usual). For a while, I started feeling militant about food, but lately I’ve started to think about the deeper pull of feeding my family.

As a kid, I spent most nights at home, seated in MY seat for supper. Momma cooked typical southern fare: fried okra, fried chicken, beans and cornbread, grilled hamburgers with fried potatoes, biscuits and sausage with homemade gravy and homemade syrup. It was rare for someone to be missing from the supper table, and when someone was (maybe Daddy worked late or someone was at a friend’s house for the evening) the vibe was a little off. As life got busier for me (I was the oldest), my appearances for supper started to taper. A basketball game, a date, a volleyball game, practice, a bonfire, many things filled that space where dinner happened.

But when I look back, some of the best memories are of my family sitting at the table–eating whatever Momma had cooked and talking about everything. The table itself had gotten so damaged, my dad bought a new top for it. The old chairs and bench are long gone, but I’ve still got the table in my own dining room. I tried once to buy a new one and succeeded in getting my husband to drag our heavy old table to the garage. I’m not sure how long that lasted (a couple weeks, maybe a month), but fairly soon, I had him drag that old table back inside the house and put the new-fangled thing out in the garage. It’s got some dents in the top and some plastered applesauce to the kids’ side that I just can’t seem to scrape completely off. It’s got some paint stains on top. But, it’s a sturdy table, and it belongs with a family.

Lily enjoys her Izze with dinner.

The menu plan? Yeah, it helps create a little more sanity around here. But somehow even when we don’t have a plan, we manage to eat and get fed and spend some time at the supper table.


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