Rolling out of bed one morning many years ago, my kids toppled onto it next to me- clearly very awoke. Faced with a barrage of questions about breakfast, I shoved the pillow over my face and granted myself an extra twenty minutes to sleep in. It’s not that I needed the extra sleep in particular. It’s just that I didn’t want to think about what I didn’t know.
I didn’t have a meal plan. I didn’t know what was for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It was just sort of a free-for-all. Whatever’s in the fridge. Words can’t describe the panic I felt by sheerly not knowing something as simple as what’s for breakfast.
As humorous as it sounds, after that day I vowed to never let these moments of doubt continue happening in my brain and in my home. I immediately set out on a journey to change my ways, and I learned quite a few things in my journey to discovering how to make a meal plan that works for my family.
Scout Your Recipes
I realized that what I was lacking was a variety of recipes that my family likes- and I mean truly likes. Over the years, I had accumulated a reputation for being the recipe-tester. I would “test” a recipe, only to realize our family didn’t like it after all, and discard it.
Each week it took more work than necessary to pull together a dinner meal for each day, much less breakfast or lunch. It took a few tries, but after months and years of trial and error, I finally stumbled upon a few delicious dishes that are simple and well-liked by my family.
Once you gather recipes that your family appreciates, keep those in your trusty file. In fact, learn them by heart and keep them on your mind. You’ll need to be able to whip out a quick dinner with a few ingredients in your pantry during mad rush days, and you’ll have an easier go of it if you know exactly which meals you’re comfortable making.
Focus on staples that create a full course meal. For example, one protein, one complex carbohydrate, and one or two vegetables could mean: sautéed chicken breast, brown rice, and steamed broccoli, or a bowl of vegetarian chili (complete with kidney beans for protein) with a side of brown rice or quinoa. Spaghetti with squash and ground turkey meat sauce makes a pretty yummy meal, as well as grilled salmon with a side baked potato topped with herbs, along with a nice garden salad.
Just be sure to vary up the components each day for a variety of meals. Collecting and storing your recipes will be important. Check out apps like:
- Food.com Recipes-App for Iphone
- Evernote Food- App for Iphone | App for Android
- All Recipes – App for Iphone| App for Android
- Must Have Recipes from Better Homes and Gardens-| App for Android
Map it out.
I learned that our meal-planning happens easier for me when I work it around our family’s pay schedule. We generally receive paychecks every two weeks, so my grocery budget is split for two weeks at a time. I typically go shopping once a week, just to give myself some wiggle room and so that I don’t over-commit to food two weeks in advance.
So, do what’s best for your family. Plan a week at a time, two weeks at a time, a month at a time. Consider paydays, your family’s shopping and bargaining style. Do you coupon? Do you save money on a military base? Do you prefer shopping in bulk? Whatever the case, make sure you plan meals that center around your shopping style as well.
Perhaps you prefer slow-cooker meals for those wintry, cold days. A little will go a long way, and you’ll find that as you begin making your list, just a few ingredients for one meal can be the base for another meal. That’s why it’s important to sketch out a general plan for what you’d like to cook and when.
I began using meal planning printables two years ago, and then I shifted to the use of a simple notebook with a line drawn down the center with one side for my week’s menu and the other for my grocery list.
Even better yet, recently I’ve discovered a collection of apps that are extremely helpful in getting your meals planned out for the week or month.
- LaLa Breakfast- Itunes App
- LaLa Lunchbox- Itunes App
- Yumprint- Itunes App
- Food On The Table- Android App
My basic needs for menu-planning are essentially a collection of recipes and a calendar. That’s it. I’ve used calendar printables, and I’ve tried using Google Calendar for a while. Nowadays I enjoy Plan To Eat’s unique recipe and calendar system.
Unveil the list, and go shopping!
Scour your cupboards and fridge for items you’re running low on to start your list. Top it off by adding to your list all ingredients you’ll need for each meal you’re planning that week, if they’re not already in your pantry. I would highly recommend getting your list started the moment you come home from grocery shopping (because that’s when life starts all over again.)
Some of my favorite resources for shopping are the following apps:
- Grocery List – Itunes App
- Grocery IQ- Itunes App | Android App
- Out of Milk- Android App
- Grocery Smarts- Android App
- Grocery Shopping List- Listick – Android App
Once your list is prepared, it’s time to go test the waters at the grocery store.
Take note of your experience. Did you feel more prepared to shop? Did you notice any discrepancies on your list? How would you shop differently next time?
Thankfully, nowadays when I roll out of bed, “what’s for breakfast?” is one less question I need to worry about!
I hope these tips have been helpful. Do you have some favorite apps and resources that help you with menu-planning and grocery shopping? We’d love to hear from you!
Here are Some Other Posts You Might Be Interested in:
- 10 Tips for More Efficient Homemaking
- Home Economics: Menu Planning and Recipe Collecting
- 10 Theme Nights to Make Menu Planning Easier
- Teaching Children about Meal Planning and Preparation
|Demetria is a homeschooling mompreneur and blogger residing in California with her Navy reservist husband, 2 kids, and a Shih Tzu. She’s also a podcast consultant, mompreneur coach at Web Success Coaching, and founder of Christian Homeschool Moms. When she’s not blogging, teaching, or coaching, you might find her walking along the beach or writing a song at piano. You can connect with her by Google+, You Tube, Twitter, and Pinterest.|
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