Before we get into the hows & whys of basic menu planning, let’s talk about the 4 scenarios when it comes to meals, and see where you fit.
Mad Rush Mom
It’s 5 pm and you are leaving work. As you walk out to your car, you realize that when you get home you have to feed your kids, who are always hungry. You aren’t really sure what you have in your house to eat, so you stop by the grocery store, and it is packed! You start thinking that this is ridiculous! “Why does everyone have to shop right now? Don’t they understand how busy I am and can’t wait for them to get done?”
The thing is they are just as busy as you are and are honestly there shopping because they also have no idea what’s for dinner.
You grab some food and if you remember some food for the next day as well. You rush out of the store heading home. The children are already hungry, and asking what is for dinner. You toss the kids some food while you prepare dinner. Once it is ready, everyone eats and you begin the process of cleaning up. Did you actually take the time to enjoy it, or were you too stressed from everything?
It’s 5 pm and you are leaving work. You rush out the door to pick your children up from daycare. You’ve had a busy day. Of course, the kids are going to be starving when you get there. You have no idea what you have at home to eat, and frankly just don’t care. As you are driving you decide to stop by the next fast food place to feed your kids. While you are at it, you grab something for yourself, Mama’s got to eat too.
When you change into your pjs for bed you wonder where all this weight came from. Then you remember what you’ve eaten for dinner the past 4 nights and you know. You go to bed deciding that something has to change, but you have no idea how to make it happen.
Last Minute Mom
It’s 5 pm and you are standing in front of your open fridge trying to figure out what to fix. You went grocery shopping, but you have no idea what to do. It is like a teenager saying they have nothing to wear, when they have a closet full of clothes. You grab a bunch of things, throwing something together. It is edible, but nothing great.
The biggest problem is that you have run out of food before the end of the week and need something to feed your family, so you end up Mad Rush Mom. This is just as stressful as what mad Rush Mom went through, but at least it isn’t until the end of the pay period, right?
It’s 6 pm and you are sitting down to dinner. Things were made as calmly and peacefully as you can in a busy house of littles. Everyone is eating, talking, laughing and enjoying each other around your dinner table. By making dinner at home you know exactly what your children are eating and know it is healthy.
Not only is there enough to feed your family, but you have left overs planned for yourself and your husband for the next day. By taking the time to plan out your menu and purchase the food you needed not only to feed your family dinner, but breakfast and lunch as well. There’s no rush to the grocery store because you bought everything you need for your grocery trip.
Honesty about Menu Planning
We’ve all heard we need to menu plan. They tell us, it is easy. It will save you time and money. We’ve been told it will be worth every penny.
Well, I’m here to bust the myth about menu planning. It isn’t always easy, nor does it always save time and money. At times my menu planning has cost more than just grabbing stuff from the store and making due with what we have. BUT it always saves my sanity and reduces my stress level. This is worth every minute I spend planning a menu and grocery list.
Mama’s I know you are stressed. It doesn’t matter if you work from home, work outside the home or just spend the entire day taking care of your home and children, we all work hard. We all are busy and would love to make just one thing less stressful in our lives. Menu planning is that one thing, and it could change everything.
How to make a Basic Menu Plan
Over the last 21 years, I’ve read everything I could find about menu planning. I’ve bought books, read blog posts, read magazine articles, watched videos, you name it, I’ve done it. The funny thing is they’ve all said pretty much the same thing.
There’s a lot of information so I’m going to break it down for you.
Now grab a piece of paper and a pen. I want you to write down all of the dinners you regularly fix that your family loves. It doesn’t matter how many there are, just stop reading and write them down. I will wait here for you. Seriously, I’ll wait!
Now depending on how long or short you list is, you may have meals for the next 2 weeks. If you only have meals for 1 week, then you can just use the same menu over again for the following week.
The next step, if you need to pull out the recipes, it is time to do that. Otherwise, start writing out everything you need for each recipe. You’ve just completed your grocery list for your dinners.
Time for Breakfast
Stop now and write down 5 to 7 things your family likes to eat for breakfast. It can be as easy or as complex as you want or have time. I try to save the complex recipes like homemade cinnamon rolls for Saturday mornings when I have more time.
Once you have this done, add the items you need for breakfast to your grocery list. Having nothing to eat for breakfast is just as bad as having nothing planned for dinner. Your kids have slept all night and they are once again starving.
Having a plan for breakfast not only makes the morning run smoother, but you make sure your kids get the nutrients they need to start off their day and be successful. This is what every Mama wants for her children.
If you are needing some Breakfast ideas you can check out my Pinterest Board HERE.
Mid Day Slump Fix AKA Lunch
The easiest thing for lunch is leftovers, and is what my husband eats almost every day. If he has soup, I will also add a sandwich. The key to having leftovers is planning for them, but that is another blog post for later.
For your kids, they may not have the ability to heat up left overs, so you need to make a list for them. Write down everything they love to have in their lunches. Go ahead, stop and make that list! I’ll wait.
If you are needing some ideas for lunch you can check out my Pinterest Board HERE.
Write It Up and Post It
There is just something about writing out my menu that makes it so much more real. I’m more likely to make the food on the menu if I write it out. I’m also more likely to make sure I have all the foods I need for each meal.
Also there are times when my plans have changed and I need to move menus around, this is easy when things are written down.
You can use a notebook or use a printable. Here are some of my favorites.
Next week I’m going to show you how I save money on my menu planning so be on the look out for that. Until check out my Pinterest boards for food. I have them pretty well divided and organized.