Meal Planning

By: Sierra Lambert

Food Safety

  • Rub-a-Dub-Dub

    Always wash your hands with hot soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.

  • 2-Hour Rule

    Refrigerate or freeze perishables, prepared food and leftovers within 2 hours. Do not leave them sitting out at room temperature.

  • Thaw Law

    Always thaw food in the refrigerator. Never defrost food at room temperature on the countertop.

Food Sanitation

  • Stored perishable food should be kept at temperatures below 41 F or below.
  • All produce should be washed in potable water.
  • Foods such as meat and poultry products should be well cooked (165 F) to destroy disease organisms.


  • Setting out a timetable based on the order that you are going to cook the items, may help you manage when everything will be finished. This way you can start things that are going to take longer sooner, and things that take less time, towards the end.

Work Plan

  • Keeping a meal journal may help with staying organized. Take a look at what you were cooking a year ago or even two years ago. It's a good way to remember things you used to cook, so you have some ideas as to what make.
  • Meal planning will allow you to save more time in the kitchen so your not running around trying to make sure your roast gets done in the oven when your vegetables come out of the microwave!! Timetables are very essential to cooking.
  • Having a layout for your dinner plan throughout the week can help you save time as well. How? Well, it gives you an opportunity to know what to pick up at the store when your out and about so your not having to go get items the day of.


  • Use tools and materials properly and in the correct manner. Make sure to watch your surroundings and people that your working with so you don't injure another person when active in the kitchen area.
  • Share ideas, recipes, and task, so everyone can collaborate together and try to all be involved with the group.
  • Make room in the kitchen and only allow a certain number of people to work at once. This will decrease the chances of experiencing chaos.


  • Food cannot nourish if it isn't eaten. With menu planning and your calendar working together, everyone will be assured a nutritious meal even on the busiest days.
  • Menu planning can also prevent the scourge of leftovers (you know, those things you save so you can throw them out later). You should never have leftovers unless they're planned (e.g., leftover pork roast can be used for barbecued pork). Leftovers clutter up the refrigerator, anyway. If you're frequently discarding leftovers, start planning them--or prepare smaller servings to begin with.
  • Menu planning is a fundamental skill far too important to disregard. With your meals planned you can clearly outline what you want your recruits to do. They can start chopping the vegetables, boning the chicken, peeling the potatoes, tossing the salad. Before long your fledglings will become veteran cooks who can put together a whole meal on their own.


  • The smaller the item, the higher the baking temperature. For example, I bake mini chocolate chip-toffee cookies at 500 degrees F for only 4 minutes. Perfect end result.
  • Use a coarse microplane to shave vegetables into salads or vinaigrettes. You can create an orange-fennel dressing by adding grated fennel and orange zest to a simple vinaigrette.
  • If you're cooking for someone important — whether it's your boss or a date — never try a new recipe and a new ingredient at the same time.

Preparation Tasks

  • Lay the clove on the cutting board and place the flat side of the knife on top of it. Use the heel of your hand to hit the knife, putting enough pressure on the clove for the skin to simply fall off.
  • Even with the previous trick to peeling individual cloves, it can be a pain to peel a whole bunch of cloves for garlic-heavy dishes. The trick: Hit the head of garlic with the heel of your hand to open up the cloves.
  • For the impatient baker, waiting for butter to soften can be like waiting for a pot to boil. To quicken up the process, use a grater to shred the required amount into a mixing bowl. It’ll be ready before you know it.

Pre-Preparation Tasks

Sanitize to ensure a clean working space so bacteria doesn't collect on your food when preparing for your meal. This includes, counters, stove, microwaves, and other appliances, such as blenders or even coffee makers.

Lay out your ingredients you will need so you have everything ready and on hand when your need it for your personal convenience.

Spray pans or layer your heated appliances with anything before cooking needed foods.