Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Menu Planning

Welcome to Tip Day!  Sorry to all those that have been leaving comments, I'm not ignoring you, I just can't seem to reply to comments again!  I need to check a book out of the library - Replying to Comments for Dummies.  I'm what some in the industry would call a 'stupid user'.  Sigh. 

Anyway, back to the tip of the day.  Many years ago, my menu planning style was all pantry, all the time.  I kept my fridge, freezer and cupboard stocked with the usual suspects, and basically winged it from day to day.  And if a whim struck me, I'd toddle off to the store for whatever it was I was itching to bake, stew, braise, fry, get the general idea.

My menu planning style the last few years tends towards meal planning on a two week schedule.  The day before grocery day (or that very day, more likely!) I sit down with my big mom calendar, a pencil and a highlighter.  I pencil in tentative meal ideas, taking into account what's going on on a particular day.  For example, today is Tuesday, the first day of early morning seminary (6:15 a.m. this year, holy wow!), a contractor came this a.m. to finish the office downstairs, Sarah's friends came home with her for lunch, I had to work from 12-3, pick up the boys at 3 (yes, I know it's impossible to be two places at the same time, they had to cool their heels for ten min.), drop off the car for Jason, take the three youngest to piano lessons at 4:15, home at 5:50.  This was the perfect day for a crock pot meal.  So I penciled in meat balls, which I made at 9:30 this morning, threw in the pot with the tomato sauce, and at 6 p.m. I just needed to cook some noodles and we were ready to roll. 

I always schedule pizza for Fridays, because otherwise the world as we know it would end.  I make the dough in the morning before I go to work.  Thursday is always sandwich night, because four of the children have activities on that evening, and a girl needs a break.  Saturday is Mexican food night, whether that's enchiladas, tacos, fajitas, quesedillas, chili, you get the picture.  Sunday is big dinner day, with a nice dessert.  The other days I fill in depending on what's going on that day.  I highlight the meal on the calendar.  I write it in pencil, because nothing is written in stone, baby!  If I wake up one morning, look at the calendar, and think to myself..."There's no way I'm making/eating_______tonight", I erase the pencil meal and put in what I really want! 

As I'm filling in my calendar the day before grocery day, I also make my grocery list at the same time.  I know exactly what I need to buy, it's all written out on the calendar.  This saves me time and money.  I also still keep staples on the shelf for days when I change my mind.  Like I said, written in pencil, not stone. 

I posted on routines yesterday, and I have to say my children like the meal on the calendar routine.  They check it every morning to see what's for supper, accompanied with the requisite cheers or groans, depending on what's written down for the day (Grilled cheese sandwiches - Yay!  Vegetable soup - Boo!) 

I used to swear I'd never, ever use a meal plan, it was too inflexible.  But now that I calendar our meals, I don't think I'll ever go back.  Ten minutes of planning twice a month saves me a whole lot of time every day. 

1 comment:

  1. When you get that book out can I borrow it after you!!! I also have no idea how to reply!