In my Italian family planning a weekly menu was one of the many things to do at the end of a Sunday: preparing books satchel for the next school day, ironing some clothes, polish shoes and basically getting things ready for the week while my parents compiled lunch and dinner menus for each day of the week. In Italy, due to the long lunch break, the majority of people go home to eat and relax for at least two hours in the North and four hours in the South. Planning the weekly menu is a good way to save money on grocery, in that once the menu is set, for our own convenience, we don’t get out of the set path. The food must be fresh and for that reason we go to the local street market everyday with the list of the menu in our hands to buy the necessary food and only if something is not available on that day we change our plans, but generally markets carry just about everything in season we need.
Buying in season is another thing that distinguished Italians. Produce cultivated by local farmers that don’t travel long distance are very good for us, they are not picked before maturing time and they will not go the phase I call “from green to trash”.
Have you ever experienced buying bananas not totally ripe and three days later are rotten already?
I hate it, because I hate throwing food and money away.
Vegetables and fruit in season have more nutrition, taste so much better,
flavors are enhanced naturally by the sun and not induced by machines, colors are vivid.
Preparing the weekly menu is one way to stay healthy and keep the weight stable. In my family we never bought pre-made food, or take away.
We knew exactly what to prepare.
However, as teenagers, my brothers and I, not always agreed with our parents on food. There were times when we fussed and stomped our feet on the floor protesting against the food we did not like. The answer from mom was always the same: ‘this is what the convent passes today” and we had the choice to eat it or starve. Guess what? Eating whatever it was planned for that day was always easier than starving. With Italian food one can’t go wrong any way.
Now living in America, I prepare my weekly menu only for dinners, but I make enough for the next day lunch. Not once, since I have been in US, I have gone into any fast food joints. Lucky me! Thanks to the good teaching, I don’t crave those food, I don’t know how they taste, so I cannot miss something I have never tried.
Programming our weekly meal is healthy, keep us on track, we can control the intake of salt, sugar, spices and fat, we know what we are eating and we can save money. At home the serving portions are never vulgarly enormous. Have you noticed how moderate home eating is versus eating in restaurants?
I like to go out to restaurants and discover new food, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t make an everyday habit.
I wished more parents would say to their children “this is what the convent passes today” instead of opting for children food and give in to their requests.
Just a suggestions.
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Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
Valentina Cirasola is an Italian Interior Designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking. She operates in the USA and Europe.
She loves to remodel homes and loves to turn ugly spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos.
She is the author of two regional Italian cookbooks available in this site at the Books Page:
Come Mia Nonna – A Return To Simplicity – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnq8baaAq0M
Sins Of A Queen – Italian Appetizers and Desserts