It is just me, or do your kids want to eat every few hours too?

Most days, I seriously feel like every time I turn around it’s time to eat again!

If you’re like me, then you’ve endured your share of scrambling and stressing over the constant March of Meals that demands your time, attention and creativity each and every day.  I love to cook, but my biggest “hassle” with preparing meals has always been planning them.

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for a way to simplify my life and streamline my time.

This is definitely true about something I need to do every single day, like feed my family.

Years ago, I stumbled upon an article on menu-planning; I gave it a try, and was hooked. The difference it made in my day was amazing!

With a little bit of organization, I could simply glance at my “menu” (posted conveniently on the fridge) and I knew instantly what foods I needed to prepare in advance, take out of the freezer, or put on my grocery list for later.

6 Ways to Simplify Menu Planning | Kristy's Cottage blog

Here are Six easy tips I’ve learned to incorporate in order to simplify meal time:

  • Print out an actual calendar page, write in the meals you plan to prepare each day, and post it on your refrigerator.  Here’s a cute set I found online that you can download and print for FREE. 
  • Try planning just one meal per day. We usually eat a “quickie” (such as left-overs from the previous day, or a sandwich) for our second meal.
  • Keep a running list of your family’s top ten favorite meals.  My family enjoys eating certain meals pretty frequently, so I have a running list of about ten “favorites” that I incorporate into our weekly menus on a regular basis.  I also try to keep ingredients for these meals on hand as much as possible.  These are my go to meals for when we need something simple in a hurry, and include things like tacos, spaghetti, and sandwiches! 
  • Always keep a grocery list handy while preparing your menu. If you need an ingredient, write it down as you go. This will save you from forgetting to purchase something you need while you’re out grocery shopping.
  • Plan your menu according to what you have in your freezer, fridge, and pantry. There are endless ways to prepare just about anything– soups, casseroles, stir fries, salads, pizzas, just to name a few.
  • Find creative and delicious ways to prepare left-overs, especially if your family isn’t especially fond of eating the same thing twice. While it’s true that some dishes don’t save well, don’t just throw it out! I call these rerun meals “left-over make-overs.”

Using these simple ideas, here is a sample menu plan.

I’m including breakfast and snack options; although I don’t necessarily “plan” these, I do keep a mental note of what we have on hand for each week.

Vanilla Spice Granola

Chicken & Brown Rice Pilaf

Breakfast:

  • smoothies
  • yogurt
  • bananas (I bought a huge bag of overripe bananas at the Farmer’s Market today for $1!)
  • banana bread (made from my cheap bananas)
  • homemade granola
  • toast 
  • organic apple sauce

 

Main meals:

  • Sunday– broiled fish (fresh crappie) with lemon butter, homemade slaw, organic sweet corn (frozen bag cost 79-cents with coupon last week)
  • Monday– homemade chili, buttermilk cornbread, raw veggies (cukes and carrot sticks)
  • Tuesday– tuna salad pita sandwiches, raw veggies
  • Wednesday– garden chowder, spinach salad with poppy seed dressing
  • Thursday– baked potatoes, Salisbury steaks, spinach salad
  • Friday– spaghetti and meatballs, cooked veggie, spinach salad (again!)
  • Saturday– grilled chicken, cucumber salad, basil-honey carrots

 

Snacks:

  • yogurt
  • raw veggies and Ranch dressing
  • dried fruit (pineapples and raisins are what we have on hand right now)
  • celery sticks and peanut butter
  • granola cereal

What works for you in simplifying meal time?

Do you plan a weekly or monthly menu? 

 

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One thought on “6 Ways to Simplify Menu Planning

  1. My husband and I use the app “COZI” to make our grocery lists and meal plans. Our accounts are synced so we can both view the lists at anytime from our phones or computers. (There have been times when I asked him to stop at the store on his way home from work and updated the list by myself from home.) I also add little things that I notice that we need during the week but might forget when making the big list (like tissues or spices that are running low).

    Posted on January 16, 2014 at 9:40 am