Do you use a meal planner? Have you ever thought a meal planner could simplify your life? I am here to testify to you that they do work! Night after night my poor hubby would come home from a long day at work, call me when he left work, and then 30 minutes later arrive home to me STILL scrambling around trying to figure out what I could throw together for dinner. Poor guy. I finally had had enough of that kind of chaos. So I came up with my own little menu planner for myself.
Now I’m not saying my meals are perfect, but it gives me lots of guidance first thing in the morning I now know with a quick glance what I need to pull out of the freezer, and what needs to be precooked before assembling the rest of the meal. Here are a couple examples of my menu plans.
Why do I plan breakfasts and lunches too? Well unfortunately my innate lack of creativity during the dinner hour was not isolated to the dinner hour. Trying to wake up the kids, get little ones ready for the day, while trying to gently but firmly remind the older 3 they MUST get ready because they WERE going to complete ALL of their school work TODAY (had this argument a few times you think? Lol) And all of this between sips of my caffeine laced coffee to wake myself up… yeah it’s definitely not my most creative time of day. J And don’t get me started on lunch time, trying to get the 3 older ones to finish up the subjects they are working on while I have two whiney little ones who are hungry , want Mommy’s attention and one that desperately needs a nap…. Well, I think you get the point. The more I plan ahead and the less I have to think about, the better.
I personally like to rotate my menu’s, with minor adjustments to them according to the calendars plans. An example of this would be, if I pull my next set of menus for the next four weeks and see that this coming Friday afternoon I will be in a meeting all afternoon and the dinner requires me to make and assemble a big lasagna, or thaw and cook a frozen one (which takes just as long) I may change it to something more suitable for the crockpot or even a 30 minute meal.
Breakfasts: I like to rotate out a few of my children’s favorites, but on days they have morning activities I plan on having something hearty, that will stick with them like Homemade Oatmeal, Homemade Cream of Wheat of even Breakfast Burritos.
Lunches: Don’t have to be painstakingly tedious. For us changing out a regular sandwich for a tortilla roll up version is great. Think about what is on the children’s menu at a restaurant, or just keep it to the kids’ favorites or even leftovers from dinner the night before.
Dinners: I actually have a list of tons of meals my family actually likes. Occasionally I’ll try something new and if they like it, it makes the list and if not…. Well let’s just say I purposefully lose the recipe. LOL I keep the list because again I hate having to think all this stuff up on the fly. I want it to be easy for me to just look down and see, “Oh, I haven’t made that in a while, I think they would like that on Tuesday.”
Baking: Look ahead in the week and see if you need or want anything special. Find a couple hours on a day where you can prepare all the must haves to make your week run smoothly. Having hamburgers later in the week, go ahead and bake them, and a few more you can stick in the freezer for a later meal.
Just go with it. Take a look at your calendar and plan out what meals work best for your family on each night! It’s so easy, with just a little planning and sticking with it, your family and your grocery budget will totally thank you for it.
One of my favorite side benefits of meal planning is that it helps guide my grocery list making!
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