Meal planning is one of those homemaking things that just did not come naturally to me. I never noticed my mother doing it and I struggled for a long time to get this part of life under control. There are, literally, thousands of blogs and websites that have devoted themselves to this topic, some of which are helpful but most don't take into account a larger family in which the children are home all day. This entails not only planning for dinner, which is the big kahuna in meal planning, but also you must take into account breakfast, lunch and snacks for everyone seven days a week.
I find it all bit daunting. I also find daunting the sites and bloggers who recommend binders, spreadsheets and expensive downloads. I think that kind of thing tends to overcomplicate matters. It is hard enough to get a balanced meal on the table without having to consult a color coded three inch binder every time someone is feeling like they need a little knosh.
Still, I have managed to gain some control over parts of it and I thought I would share some that with you today. Going forward it would be fun to have a link up of menu posts in which we share what the meal plan of the week is and in doing so offer some encouragement and maybe share some new ideas with each other. My startlingly original title for this will be Menu Monday ( I spent hours coming up with that ;))
The Lazy Mom's Guide to Meal Planning
- Know what they like to eat: There is no point in cooking food no one wants to eat, so twice a year; once before the cold weather starts and once before the hot weather starts, I ask everyone to tell me their favorite lunch and dinner meals. I will usually do this at a Sunday evening dinner since we are all usually present for that meal. I bring paper and pencil to the discussion and write down all the ideas. I will share our family's favorites in another post.
- Check the freezer: On Sunday I open the freezer and the firdge and see what's there, then I write a menu for the week based upon what's there. The Sunday planning works for me because I grocery shop on Fridays so we actually have food around. Anything I don't have for a recipe goes on the list for the Tuesday, -good-heavens-we-are-out-of-milk-already- run to the grocery store. If you shop on another day you should meal plan a day or two after. When writing out the plan for the week remember to consider days you will be out of the house in the late afternoon. For us this is Tuesday and Thursday so those days dinner will be tacos, casseroles or from the crock pot. Things that can be done early int he day and heated up easily.
- Write it down: Write on something the meal plan for the week. I use this menu planner, I like it because it's pretty, simple and above all, cheap. I'm all about the cheap with this. Make sure you use a paper type thing, notebook, sheet of paper or a planner for writing your menus rather than a computer thing. The reason for this is that if you need to go sit at the computer everytime you need an idea for what to cook you will spend a few hours on Pinterest and end up ordering pizza. Don't ask me how I know this.
- Stick it somewhere: Post the menu somewhere where all can see it so no one is asking you what is for dinner thirty times a day.
I would love to hear how you tackle menu planning so plan on being here next Monday to share and encourage in this necessary task.