Menu planning 101!
Yep, I am one of those freaks! I grocery shop and menu plan for 2 weeks at a time.
What is wrong with me? Ummm, some OCD, a homeschool Mom who also runs a small childcare out of her home adds up to necessity!
Why do I do it you ask?
Well, this Mom got tired of her kids asking what was for dinner, last minute meal planning and never having what we wanted in the house. When you work at home being a stay-at-home Mom all day, plus a homeschool teacher, plus take care of 3-5 small children who aren’t mine but I take care of them like they are…. getting rid of the last one at 6pm….the last thing I want to do is drag my bedraggled, slightly stained, poopy and/or spit-up smelling butt to the store to grab supplies for dinner when it was something I could have, should have already had on hand! By 6pm, I am tired and crabby and when this Mom gets crabby….watch out.
So, I decided enough was enough!
How do I do it you ask?
I sat down and wrote out our favorite meals. Made a list for cooler weather and a list for hotter weather because nobody wants soup in 100* heat and we don’t want to be out in the pouring rain BBQ’ing. Then I made a list of nights that are busier. Whether homeschool evening classes, later nights for having daycare kids here(I do not want to make a meal that takes a lot of prep on a night I have kids until 6pm because I am slow at prepping and we end up eating dinner at 7:30pm-ugh!) and marked nights that are easier!
Now, I wish I could say with a flick of a switch or a push of a button a machine spit out a great menu but WRONG!
I did create a blank printable page on my computer for 1 week at a time, laminated it and I can now fill in every Sunday the menu for the entire week with a dry erase! Wait, but you said you plan 2 weeks at a time….
Yes, I did!
I do make a grid on a sheet of paper, see the “lovely” picture! I didn’t say it was pretty….it isn’t for anyone but Mom to know. 2 columns, 7 rows and mark Sun, Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri and Sat which ends up being Su, M, T, W, Th, F and Sa on my chart as you can see. I then plug in the few SET nights. What is a SET night? It’s a night when we have the same thing every week ON that day. At our house, Mondays are tacos, Tuesdays are Fish Sticks and French Fries and Thursdays are Hamburgers and French Fries. Why would I do this? Well, my kids and hubby LOVE these staples and Monday is usually a crazy day getting 2 teens back on track for school for the week, preschoolers are grumpy and tired from a long weekend with their parents and that all trickles down to ME who is tired herself by the end of the day. So taco Mondays came about. Easy to make. Tuesdays, my older son has a class until later. My husband picks him up at 4:30pm and they get home at about 7:30pm or so. So, having something easy like fish sticks and fries is perfect because I can bump up or lower the temp of the oven as needed. Sometimes they get done earlier, sometimes it runs later OR during bad weather it takes them longer to get home. Thursdays are my last day of the week. I am done both mentally and physically and I have kids right up until 6pm that day. Hamburgers and fries are EASY but filling and good.
So what about Sunday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday……
Well, Sunday is USUALLY pizza from Costco. No dishes, no clean-up and my house is tidy and ready for the week ahead. Plus we love it, it is inexpensive at $10 a pizza and 2 pizzas gives us a meal and leftovers for lunch. Whose teen doesn’t love pizza leftovers?
Wednesday is my whatever day! I try to make something GOOD but it can range from something simple like Breakfast for Dinner to something medium like Slow Cooker Chicken or something harder like Chicken Picatta. It depends on my mood, the time kids leave and what I have on hand.
Friday and Saturday are reserved for MEALS! Those ones that take a lot of prep or multiple pans. And Moms full attention! Lemon Chicken Spaghetti, Pulled Pork, Pork Roast on the BBQ or Chicken Stir Fry. Lots of prep, lots of chopping, multiple meals.
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are where I plug in my rotating meals. Things we like, occasionally a new recipe and/or if we have company for the weekend.
Take some time this weekend and sit down, look at your pantry and freezer, your families menu FAVs and try out making not only a menu for 2 weeks but also a shopping list and only do it every 2 weeks. Can’t do it, that is ok! Try it for 1 week at a time. You can make a 2 week menu but just shop for 1 week at a time. Make sure to leave room to rotate some meals and ALWAYS have 1-2 back-up meals that you can prepare easily. Whether that is made ahead meals in the freezer or a quick made soup or breakfast for dinner. You never know when you will be running late from work, the meat you defrosted smells funky and needs to be tossed or you just do not feel up to what you planned.
Katrina calls herself a jill of all trades! She is a stay-at-home Mom, raising 2 teen sons. She homeschools both of them using Time4Learning high school. She is also an in-home childcare provider and has 5 preschoolers under her care. She loves her kids, her animals and gardening on her small urban farm in Portland, Oregon. You can read more about her on her blog, Preschoolers Day by Day.