One the other areas that I find to be important to a well managed home is planned meals. I have really disliked not knowing what I was going to make my family to eat until the last minute. Maybe because I have such a big family that meal time is a big deal. My family consumes a lot of food at a meal and I need to prepared for this so that I can use my resources (time, food and money) to the best of my ability. I have found that having my meals planned and knowing what I was serving each day of the week has made meal time so much easier. I still have days where I forget to take something out of the freezer or I even have weeks where I seem to be able to only plan meals about a day or two ahead. But I never enjoy this and will sit down and come up with a meal plan.
Menu planning has many advantages. You can have very specific grocery shopping lists and this helps to avoid impulse buying. Also how many times have you seen something at the grocery store and come up with a great brainstorm of what you could do with it only to come home, put it in a cupboard and forget exactly why you bought it weeks later. Also menu planning helps you to get an idea of what types of foods you eat on a regular basis and what kinds of food to stock in your pantry. You can then look for sale items of your commonly used items and then be able to stock up knowing that you will use them. It also reduces chaos. To me having a bunch of hungry grumpy children under foot while I am trying to figure out what we are going to eat is chaos. I don’t like living like that :) so I am determined that as much as possible I will be prepared. Like anyone else I have my times when I just don’t get my act together and end up with no plan for an evening. However because I have spent so much time working on this area of home management I can always find something in the freezer, even just a meal starter like a bag of cooked beans that I can make something out of for my family to eat. Or something in pantry or a combination of both places and come up with a meal. There have been times when this happens and I get a new inspiration and a new recipe as well! But I always get right back to meal planning because this makes life flow so much better.
There are lots of menu planning ideas and I will share some that I have used and what works well for me. Sometimes it comes back to a matter of timing in our life. We may never find the “perfect” menu planning system. Our lives may be at different places at different times and coming up with a permanent menu plan is not practical. I remember being near the end of my pregnancy with my 8th baby, Isaac. I was very tired and exhausted and just thinking about meal time was a chore. So I came up with a 7 day menu and we ate that very same menu each week for several weeks. It was not real fun but it was easy and it was just what I needed at the time. I did not have to think about anything in the kitchen. I just new spaghetti was on Monday night and Meatloaf was on Thursday. But afterwards when I did have more strength to handle my kitchen duties again I began to be more creative and add variety again. So any menu planning ideas I present here are for the purpose of giving you ideas to help you have a well managed home!
One of the easiest meal plans for me to use was my 5 week plan. I planned 5 different meals for each week for 5 weeks and then rotated this menu. This plan leaves one night for leftovers and a second night to try out new recipes or to have cooks choice or fend for yourself night. I had gotten away from this when we were making some major changes in our diet and I was not using some of the old favorite recipes any more and was trying out new recipes hoping to find new favorites and learning how to adjust some of my other menus to healthier options. Well it has been almost a year now and I have come up with my new 5 week menu plan. If you try this plan you can adapt it to fit your families favorite meals. I would like to encourage you to plan a menu, if not 5 weeks just plan one week at a time and see if this does not make your life a little easier to manage.
If you would like to see a sample 5 week menu plan click HERE
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