Menu
It is really a headache if we have to think about how to prepare a meal for one or two persons because we do not want to make things too boring, or we want to spend too much effort or buy too many ingredients. If we want to cook a meal which is pleasing, we should first learn how to plan a menu and form a habit of cooking in order.
 
Planning a menu
  • As the living pattern of a person (or family) is different, consideration should be made as to factors like nutrition needs of people sharing the meal, their habits, whether or not the wet market or supermarket is far from home, and whether or not there would be people helping you to carry heavy objects. All these will affect whether or not there is a need to store food at home and how to choose and store food . When you plan a menu, you should consider how food is to be put into best use at the right time in order to avoid wastage.
  • Follow the proportion suggested by the Healthy Eating Food Pyramid to plan the types and proportion of foods that we should eat every day to maintain a balanced diet. Adjustments can be made according to activities of the day and other eating situations.
  • When planning a menu, you may take into consideration a few days or a whole week. Find out fruits and vegetables that are in season. You may refer to various recipes and design the food combinations, mark down the ingredients that should be bought and when is the best time to buy them. For example, if you want to steam a fresh fish, you should eat it on the same day, and you may also buy another fish for pan-frying which you can keep in the refrigerator for one or two days. Or you may also buy fresh prawns and put them in a freezer to make a soup or pan-fry later.
  • When you design a food combination, you should think about how much time you have to prepare the food before it is laid on the table. It would be much simpler if the food is only for one person. But if the people who eat the food may come home at different times, there are dishes that would still taste good after reheating, such as stewed spare ribs with bitter gourd, steamed minced pork patty and so on. If you also cook a soup, then it would be alright no matter when you eat it.
  • When designing a menu, you should think about how the stove is to be used. For example, your stove may not be able to place a big frying pan and a big soup kettle at the same time, then you should think about whether or not there will be any conflict in the kitchen utensils you need and so whether or not the cooking method can be changed so that the dishes can be laid on the table at the same time.
  • The combination and arrangement of food can give people a sense of freshness. For example, it would look good if you place spinach which is green together with some barbary wolfberries in a blue porcelain dish. It would also look good if some fresh Chinese cabbage and peas are added to the leftover vegetarian dish and place in a shallow square bowl. So even if you buy one kind of meat but you combine it with vegetables of different types, colours and textures and use different cooking methods, you can create dishes of different taste.
 
Orderly cooking
 
A professional cook should know how to prepare a daily cooking proposal. For the amateur cook at home, there may not be such a need to be so serious. But if you know the uses of such a proposal and how to write one, it will help those green age people who are interested in cooking to learn more skills in cooking and they can finish their task well and step by step.
 
We come across many kinds of recipes and they contain the ingredients and proportions needed and also the cooking steps. Certain recipes will state the efficacy and time required. But they are restricted to one recipe. When we cook at home, we need to handle many recipes at one time and the cooking proposal will list all the steps in order. This will ensure that time can be used well and it would be most useful if we ask friends to come to a meal at our home on a festive occasion.
 
The following are some examples for your reference:
 
  • Christmas gathering (western food, people of all ages, 10 people)
  • Chinese New Year meal (Chinese food, adults including elderly persons, 8 persons)
  • Common family meal (Chinese food, six persons including elderly persons and children)
  • Reunion lunch (western, green age people, four persons)
  • Cooking tips