Sunday, August 22, 2010

Meal menu??

"Planning out your meals every week is a good way to keep track of the time and money you spend on food."


Not only am I embarking on a schedule reformation for my family. Now I also am encouraged by the experts to work on a menu.

Don't get me wrong, it makes perfect sense. But how does one go about planning out a menu for the family every week. I can honestly say that I have NEVER done this. My sister (the organized one) has done it for years. Dana - care to weigh in on this???

I have looked up a couple of menu planning forms on the web. But friends, I literally don't cook. I feed my family finger food, fruits and veggies + easy stuff. I'd say we eat pretty healthy (although after watching the Food Inc. Documentary I know I need a lot of reformation in the nutrition area as well - - more on that later). But I definitely "wing it" for dinner almost every night.

All I can picture is a hospital scenario where everyone knows that Tuesday night is salsbury steak and box mashed potatoes and brown gravy, a roll and a side of canned peaches.

So help. What does it look like to plan out meals on a weekly basis for the family?


Nan said...

I too have made this my back to school resolution. My goal is to have the kids help out more with preparation. I also am starting a quarterly casserole/entree exchange with 4 other moms. We each preprare one family size entree in aluminum containers that can be heated and meet up to exchange...getting a little GNO as well! :) I come back with 4 meals I didn't have to make!! :)

Amy Taylor said...

First of all, your quest for household organization is contagious! I am joining you on your mission! My main objective is getting Campbell to get HIMSELF dressed and ready without my constant prodding and nagging.

Now about the menus, I do have to say that menu planning does make my week much less stressful because I don't have to do the 4:30, ok 5:30 scramble to figure out what we are going to eat. I would suggest planning 3 nights with 2 nights for leftovers or what you make now. Keep meals simple. We eat a lot of the Steam Veggie bags for sides and fresh fruit. If I can cook the entree and one of other side I am doing great! Build your own pizza night and breakfast for dinner are big hits here. I can send you some recipes if you want. Love you!!

misti said...

Ok, girl. Rob just read this to me and said I should write you back :O).
My silly "secret" to meal planning - You have to make it "a moment". It's all about the moment. For me, a moment is when you have a wonderful cup of coffee (or in your case, a super jumbo cup of diet coke from sonic), a cozy comfy chair in a favorite spot inside or outside your house and a cool journal to write your weekly menu in. I do cook most the time, so I usually get some of my favorite cookbooks/recipes or a new magazine I have and look through the EASY recipes that might be good for that week. I jot down on a page in my journal (I usually title it 'options for this week' [so creative]) what page and what book/magazine the recipes are in. Then on the next page in my journal I write at the top "Menu for August 23-29", or whatever days it will be from the time you go to the store for this menu 'til the time for you go for the next menu you come up with. Then I write down the days of the week leaving a few spaces for each day. I think through what nights we will be home, what those nights may look like (practices, Rob gone, get home later, etc.) and choose main courses from my 'options' page that would fit those nights. So, if monday is a normal day, no extra stuff that night, I will actually cook a full on meal - nothing major, but just something like tacos, pasta, fish is easy and quick, or whatever. However, if its a night where we are going to be eating fast, I will by something I can heat up real quick - like a frozen main food (chicken fingers, frozen turkey burgers, etc)and salad, bread, whatever. If we are going to be gone the whole night - we will get something while we are out. Alot of times on Sundays, we eat cereal for dinner because we ate a big lunch either out or I cooked it.
Then, I choose the main courses, think of sides that would be good to go with it, and write those things down for their chosen day of the week. it's still flexible, because if something comes up and you need to switch it around, YOU CAN! :O)
I then go back to the recipes I chose to make out my grocery list, along with whatever sides I need, too. I make one trip to the store a week and get all that I need, including stuff for the kids' lunches and snacks, etc. I just make out dinner menus. Not breakfast or lunch. Sometimes it's for a whole week, sometimes it's just for a few days that week.
For me, it's the magazine with the yummy recipes and the yummy coffee i'm drinking. I actually enjoy doing this, and I am not a big organizer person. (I have no idea what's at the bottom of the pile on my desk at this moment. My laptop is hanging off the edge, b/c there is no room for it on my desk). However, I do like doing this, and it really makes our nights a bit easier. I make it easy on myself because I know I will not feel like cooking all that much once 5:00 rolls around, so if I know it won't be a big deal, I'm more motivated.
Even if you don't cook, you can still plan out what fruits, veggies, finger foods, etc. you want to have each night, and put that in your menu journal. I look at my journal in the mornings to see if I need to thaw any meet or put something in the crockpot, etc. Otherwise, I just start cooking around 530 or so, and we eat around 630 or before, or sometimes later. If we go out one night and that wasn't the "plan", then I have one more meal planned for the next week.
There are definitely nights where things don't go as planned, & I still can do the grilled cheese, or organic mac and cheese, or we are getting to where everyone can do their own thing, almost. so, breakfast for dinner, soup, etc. Simple.
You can make it a moment, Nik! You are great at that! You will get it to where it fits you guys. This is what fits me, and us :O)

Lauren W said...

We do this every 2 weeks. Usually on a Sunday night I just go through recipes, search online, take stock of what we have....

And then I shop for 2 weeks. It's awesome. I can tell you what we are having for each meal for the next 2 weeks and it saves so much stress and money too. I can't imagine doing it any other way.

But then again, I'm a nerd. So, who knows? :-)

ziondreamer said...

O my gosh y'all. This is awesome. I can't wait to get started. I will let you know how it goes.

I love being encouraged and spurred on in my MOM-REFORMATION!

Thanks for all the insight!

Chad Kingsbury said...


Here's how we do it. We make a list of 10-12 meals we know work for our family. We might add in 2 or 3 things to try, space for a new recipe or a super sale on something groovy. That's the framework. Next, we break it down by ingredients per meal. That helps us scout what's on sale. Also, it allows us to batch freeze cooked meat. For example, if we need grilled chicken for fajita night on Monday and for grilled chicken pizza with spinach, pesto, and artichoke hearts on Friday night, I grill a double batch on Monday and freeze half for Friday. Brown ground venison for pasta sauce on Tuesday and enchiladas on Saturday.

Get my drift? The cool thing is that you not only reduce stress by having a plan, you also can trim your food envelope budget substantially. When things go on a good sale, we stock up. My kids love breakfast for dinner, so when turkey bacon and canned biscuits go on sale, breakfast works into the rotation. When steamer vegetables go on the 10 for $10 sale at Kroger, the freezer gets stockpiled. Part of my redneck, fat-kid tendencies are to want to have enough food on hand to survive the end of the world as we know it. Email me if you want some more help with this. I'm actually debating setting up a Website to do this kind of thing for people.

Love ya...tell the fam I miss you guys.


Andrea said...

There's a book called "Saving Dinner" that may be good for you. It's got weekly menus and weekly shopping lists for a FULL YEAR, with recipes and tips and whatnot. (You can borrow mine if you'd like.)

Personally, while I liked it in theory, there were a number of recipes that I just flat out didn't have (or want to have) the stuff to make, or that when I read I went *eeew*. But, the ideas behind it are great. And we did find a few new recipes that we love. I think the author also has a website and a weekly email subscription you can sign up for.

I did weekly/monthly menu planning for awhile, and would really like to get back to it. Honestly though, my husband does 90% of our dinner cooking around here, and he prefers to "wing it" with whatever we have on hand. And given how we get our meat and many of our veggies now, winging it works better. (We get them both from a CSA, and we don't really know what we're getting until we get it.)

Ashley Joy said...

Nik, we are SO gonna rock this. No question about it.

- the Nanny.

Anonymous said...

HAHA! Everyone knows Tuesday is salisbury steak night! That just cracked me up! I've got to tell you this is a huge issue for me too! I found this site that I LOVE! It is and it has new menus up every week, and you just pick out the ones you like, and then - get this - it makes out your grocery list for you! Woo-hoo! It does cost a little bit, but it has been totally worth it for me - I think from the amount of money it has saved in us going out to eat, I have more than re-couped the cost. And all the meals are easy and take about 30 minutes to make! And we've tried some stuff we would have never tried otherwise. And I actually plan on the days we'll go out to eat, like when I know it'll be a hectic night, and knowing those days are coming keeps me motivated to not go out to eat on the other days. Hang in there girl!

And, I totally laughed at today's post about Whitby growling at you and you asking how something so cute can be so scary! Thanks for making me feel like I'm not alone! I honestly thought of you this morning when my alarm went off at 6:30, and I groaned sleepily into my pillow, "I love getting up early, I love getting up early..." So far, I'm not feeling the love, but maybe it'll come!


spotts said...

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