Do you believe we’re in the middle of summer already? Ramadan is just a few weeks away. Time to plan your menu…
For those who don’t know much about Ramadan, let me briefly explain that Muslims believe this to be the most blessed month of the entire year. “Ramadan” is an actual name of one of the Islamic calendar months, the ninth to be exact. Muslims believe this was the year that the Holy Qur’an was first revealed to Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) by the Angel Gabriel, so it is a very important time for Muslims to read and reflect upon it in its entirety. The most commonly known fact about Ramadan, however, is that it’s a month of fasting for all Muslims, except those who are excused: pregnant women, nursing mothers, menstruating women, children, and those with a medical condition whose health would be at risk by fasting.
While a Muslim is to fast from just before sunrise to sunset, food is still a significant aspect of the fasting month. The right types of foods need to be consumed for a healthy fast and to provide enough energy to sustain the fasting person throughout the day, which will be long this year. No food or drink-not even water- is consumed throughout the fasting period. When the fast is broken at the end of the day, it is to be done slowly- with a date or water at first and a light meal later, gradually introducing food into the stomach. At the end of a month-long fast, one is left to really understand what it feels like to go hungry just as the poor and impoverished throughout the world so often do, unwillingly.
So, with all this talk about refraining from food, why is it so necessary to plan a menu full of delicious, tempting meals? Because if you don’t, you’ll be scrambling each day to get the iftar (meal at the time of breaking the fast) on the table, not to mention the fact that you may be exhausted from a very long day of fasting.
Use these 5 Simple Steps for Planning Ramadan Meals and finally spend less time in the kitchen and more time in prayer, worship and good deeds.
- List Family Faves: Jot down 15-30 of your family’s favorite main meals. Cross out the ones you know you won’t realistically prepare during Ramadan and keep the rest. Indicate the ones you may want to repeat during the month to make sure you’ll have enough meals for 30 days to feed everyone in your family. On the side margin of each of the meals, list the main component (i.e. turkey, chicken, beef, lamb, fish, etc.) to be sure you have a good variety.
- Grab a Calendar: Find a blank calendar you can write on. I download mine from here and type my meals right into the calendar where I can later print them out. Add the name of one dish you will make for iftar to each calendar day. If you think you’ll have leftovers, indicate the same meal for two days. Keep in mind, you may use some leftovers from iftar for the next morning suhoor (breakfast before beginning the day’s fast) so try to underestimate how much food will be left over so you are not left to scramble for an unplanned meal.
- Create a Shopping List: You’ll need to see what types and how many pounds of meat and staples your recipes call for in order to do this. Calculate the number of servings you’ll need to make at each meal and start crunching numbers. Although this is the most tedious aspect of the plan, it’s definitely worth it in the long run.
- Go Shopping: Buy your meat in bulk but call your butcher ahead of time. If not, you may be waiting a long time for them to cut and wrap your orders, especially if everyone else is buying in bulk for Ramadan, too. Don’t forget to buy things like bread in bulk, too, since it freezes so well.
- Put Things Away: Label and freeze your items and organize your staples. Now all you have to do throughout the month at meal time is to buy fresh vegetables and fruits. You can relax knowing that you have a plan for every day of the week and can fit cooking time into your daily schedule. No excuses for reading Qur’an, ibadah (worship) and extra salah (prayer)!
To get your halal meats, call these Chicagoland grocers ahead to place your order:
- Mediterranean Oasis Market (Naperville, IL): 630.420.9507
- Sara Meat Market (Niles, IL): 847.581.0792
- Fresh Farms International Market: 5740 W. Touhy Avenue (b/n Austin Ave. & Central Ave.), Niles, IL 60714. 847-779-7343. They sell roasted chickens (halal) and Crescent brand halal chickens packaged whole, legs, wings, breast, etc.
For Cleveland area halal meat markets, call Al-Madina Imports at (216) 671-4661 or visit them at 11550 Lorain Ave,
Cleveland, OH 44111.
Online Halal Meat Retailers
Crescent Foods: Free range halal chicken
Green Zabiha: Free range, grass-fed organic meats
Whole Earth Meats: Organic grass fed meats