Menu planning provides efficient family meals.

One of the best habits my husband and I developed years ago was menu planning. Each Sunday afternoon we organize a menu for the following week depending on work and family activities. We create a shopping list and head to the grocery store. My years as a caterer have proven helpful as I have the store aisles memorized and am able to make a shopping list in order of the store. What a great time-saving tip!

By Sunday evening's end we have stocked cupboards and are ready to hit the ground running. I'm fortunate my husband enjoys cooking as much as I do. Dinner preparation is left to the first spouse who arrives home from work. If we are lucky, one of our kids helps with the process. The other spouse takes care of the dishes after the meal.

Our lives are full of activity but we strongly feel the evening meal is the nucleus to family communication. This is where we learn about daily happenings and we are able to monitor our children's progress with academics, friends and extracurricular activities. The menu planning process provides efficiency to to the evening meal so we can focus on what matters most.