I like to think of myself as organized.
I mean, after all, I own a planner business! Sometimes, however, I wonder. Take dinner for instance. I’ve gone through (short) phases of weekly meal planning, but usually I find myself in my kitchen around 5pm thinking:
“I forgot to pull something out of the freezer AGAIN. What can I throw together tonight???”
I find myself at the grocery store thinking “I wonder what in the world I should buy for dinners this week???”
A few months ago, I came to the conclusion that I needed a plan to make meal planning easier. A plan in place, you might say. :) It started with pizza night. For years now, my family has had pizza night on Fridays. I loved Fridays because I didn’t have to think about it. Even if I was making pizza from scratch, it was easy because I knew exactly what we were having.
It occurred to me that it wasn’t the cooking that stressed me out, it was the deciding what to have.
So what if I used my Friday example and chose one “category” for each night of the week? Wednesdays are co-op days and we get home late, so let’s do easy stuff or snacks on Wednesday. Mondays are busy so I need a crockpot meal those days. Thursdays are usually pretty free, so I could plan on a more involved meal – we’ll call that “fancy” night.
In the end, I had seven categories, and under each category I wrote several “family favorite” meals. Then I added a list for side dishes that can easily be added. Now, when I sit down each weekend to fill out my planners, I just choose one meal from each category and I’m good to go. Easy peasy.
We’ve included a Menu Planning worksheet in our newly updated Homeschool Teacher Edition planner. It uses my “system” but I’m hopeful that it will work for you too.
One last thought. There are lots of online meal-planning systems out there – somehow, they seem to be popping up more and more these days. They look promising, but my biggest problem with them is the included recipes. I don’t want someone else dictating what recipe I use for sloppy joes – I love my recipe, and so do my kids. But if you find an online system that works for you, fantastic. I’m a big fan of ANYTHING that helps with family organization! Our Menu Planning worksheet is just another option for you. Give it a try and feel free to tweak it to your needs. And please let us know what you think!