The Saviour of the Busy Mum?
I see my family’s health as my responsibility, and try very hard to feed them what I see as being the right diet.
The problem with this is that my family do not always see me as the warder of their well-being, more as the provider of ‘orrible bread with bits in’, or a pusher of unbranded weetabix that ‘dunt taste as nice as the other stuff’ (because it has less salt in!) Sadly, they do not always appreciate my efforts.
I do try and cook healthy food, but more often than not it takes forever and is invariably not eaten – which is infuriating when I’ve spent so much time slaving in the kitchen with a two year old hanging over the safety gate screaming for ‘Cheeeeeesse!’ at regular intervals. I swear my lad is half mouse.
That is when I’m trying hard. When I’m having a less conscientious day I am prone to Pasta N’ Sauce with a tin of sweetcorn chucked in for added veg, or what I call ‘Defrosty-Tea’, which is basically last week’s leftovers frozen and reheated. The less conscientious days are, to my shame, more common than the reluctant domestic goddess ones.
Then one evening I came across Menus4Mums. It looked like the saviour of our mealtimes! The perfect antidote to Defrosty-Teas and over-elaborate inedible dinners.
This is how it works as I see it. You subscribe for your chosen length of time, and you have access to recipes and meal plans on a two week rota, which updates weekly. They include shopping lists for the week’s food and approximate prices; they list offers and promotions at different supermarkets and include handy hints on how to take short cuts for the next day’s meal – e.g. make mashed potato and keep some aside for the next day’s tea, obvious really, but easily forgotten.
The meals are nice too, my kids have eaten almost all of them, which is a minor miracle for them (apart from the green veg, but that goes without saying). It seems very balanced too; fish at least once a week and a good balance of meat and carbohydrates.
So far, I’ve found the recipes very easy and quick to make, which is exactly what you need when you’re in a rush. They are generous portion sizes and I’ve often been able to freeze leftovers for lazy days (maybe defrosty-tea hasn’t quite disappeared), which is handy. The shopping list is helpful too, although I think it is more practical for internet shopping, as you can put exactly what you’re searching for into their query box on the supermarket’s page. Personally, I found myself traipsing up and down a real supermarket looking for precisely the right ingredient for a recipe; usually I’m one of the ‘just grab it and bung it in the trolley’ brigade, so I did find this a bit time consuming. Having said that I come up with meals that aren’t half as nice as the ones Menus4Mums have come up with, so maybe the time is worth investing.
I have struggled with a few things, but I think that is simply because of my own circumstances, rather than a failing on the part of Menus4Mums. The prices they quote are supermarket estimates, I don’t drive so often have to pick things up from local shops which vary in price quite a bit, and to be honest, I do like to support my town centre which is struggling in the face of competition from bigger competitors, namely supermarkets. If you ignore the pricing issue and the supermarket bias, the recipes and meal plans are still fabulous in themselves though. I’d not let that put you off.
Something that has amused me greatly is that Menus4Mums sell themselves with the phrase ‘Save time by being more organised in the kitchen’ which is exactly what they aim to do. They are so brilliantly organised with the neatly presented shopping lists and tick boxes, and the clearly laid out recipes, the neatly totted up prices, the handy hints etc etc. You simply cannot fault them for preciseness and clarity. The problem lies in their target audience.
If you’re a disorganised person it is very hard to follow a meal plan and a shopping list or even a recipe sometimes, in a logical way. Menus4Mums may be aiming to organise the impossible in regards to me at least. I have succeeded in forgetting to read the ‘handy hints’ so I’ve not been able to take the short cuts for the next day – I’ve forgotten my password at a relatives so I couldn’t get the week’s shopping on that day (the only day we had spare) – I’ve not had time to do certain recipes and have left them until other days, meaning the ‘leftovers’ from the previous day which were meant to make up the main body of the meal, weren’t there to cook with – so I’ve ended up making the meals in a completely different order to the one suggested. I’ve not got a working printer so I can’t print out the shopping lists either.
All in all, if you’re an organised person or even a slightly disorganised person,Menus4Mums is a dream come true. If you’re simply the kind of person who struggles to know their arse from their elbow half the time, such as me; Menus4Mums is possibly even harder to keep a handle on than just writing up your own shopping lists and meal plans and bungling it.
I’m hanging on in there until the end of my subscription, maybe they’ll convert me to ‘Organisedness’ by the end of this, just maybe….