Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday's Cleaning: Organizing Menu Planning

I have found in the year that I've been home that a staple of being a SAHM is to do menu planning. I honestly don't know why I wasn't doing this while I was working. I think it would have kept us from going out to eat so much. You know how it goes: you come home from work exhausted as well as your spouse. You haven't really thought about dinner, and you and your spouse look at the fridge and pantry sighing. "Wanna just go out?" And Scene! Yup that's happened to us more times than I can count. I feel that if I had been preparing my menu plan, it would have been less tempting to just load up the car and go somewhere.

I don't have a nifty chalkboard, like my friend Meredith.  I definitely haven't gotten myself in the habit of planning for my menus two weeks at a time, like my friend Tara. What I do have, though, is the intense need to just have consistency. I want to provide a variety of healthy, hearty meals for my family for each  meal. So, I've done a few things to get on the right track. It has helped me in the mornings, knowing which mornings I can sleep a little longer because I am serving cereal. I'm also planning on bringing this to packing a lunch for the boys this year when school starts (33 days!!). They will know that every Monday to expect PB & J. This not only gives them consistency, but it also gives me the opportunity to surprise them with something different (Surprise! there's pizza in your lunch box today!!)

So I started with something simple. I made a list of all the breakfasts and lunches for every day Monday- Friday. This meant that the only meals I HAD to plan for were dinners. If I wanted to do something different, I could, but this plan was easy for me to fall back on. I could also plan some of the the night before so I all I had to do is pop them in the oven in the morning while I am doing my devotion.

I then took it a step further. When I was browsing Target the other day, I found, in their Dollar Section at the front of the store, those nifty notecard organizers (Pocket Chart Scheduler). I grabbed two thinking I would use them this school year for the boys' vocab words. Until then, I am using it as a menu plan organizer. I grabbed a pack of multiple color note cards and began to work. The great thing about this is that I have about 15 meals I make on a regular basis. If I make notecards with those items, I can just store them until I know that I am going to make that meal for the week. I put it up just to take a picture for the blog, but found that not only does it work, but the kids were so stinkin' excited about it. I might just have to make another trip to Target to buy another Pocket Chart Scheduler. 

If you have any meal planning ideas or links (even if it is to your own blog), share here. The best way to find out what works best for your family is to do a little research and look at what others have done. I hope my ideas help you, and I would love to learn from you! 

1 comment:

  1. Love the chart! Great idea! I can only think of two ideas that I would add. 1.) Always try to add one or two crock pot meals to your menu planning. If you jump whole heartedly into cooking every night it can be very exhausting (even for someone like me who LOVES to cook)... also, you never know when you will have a sick little one who needs your full attention. 2.) When school lunch menu planning I did something very similar to what you were doing but I didn't take it that far. I would write out 3-4 main lunch items (types of sandwiches (i.e. peanut butter and marshmallow, peanut butter and honey, ham and cheese) and write down 10 or so sides (i.e. bugs on a log, raisins, grapes, carrots, gold fish, chocolate bunnies, cheese) and the night before I would ask Thing 1 what she wanted from that list. It helped keep her accountable to eat her lunch and helped me make sure I was giving her a variety. Love that you started menu planning their lunches :) One other thing that I do (if you want to get really crazy lol) I also menu plan the snacks for the week- not normal snacks- just the things that I plan on making like granola, pudding, jello, fruit salad... just so I can keep track of all the options I am offering them and plan to make for them for the week. Great post!