Menu planning is something that is either met with cheers or groans, right? Some weeks, I feel SO motivated. Then others, I feel like I am in survival mode and I don’t think about dinner until 3PM, when I am on the way to pick up the kids from school. I often start the New Year with intentions of creating 52 weeks of menus. Notice, I didn’t say amazing and creative menus…..I just want to get out a menu every week! I know that menu planning makes me a better mom, and I want to share that with you!
It is one less thing to think about. Let’s face it, as moms, our minds are truly like a computer with as many windows open as possible. Work, extra curricular activities, cleaning, laundry, homework….the list goes on and on. I have an amazingly helpful husband, but I still find myself thinking about a thousand things at once! Giving myself 15-20 minutes to peruse my Pinterest boards and get my menu thoughts down for the week, saves me a ton of time and stress. I can just look at the menu board the night before, and prepare accordingly for the next evening’s dinner.
Menu planning keeps me frugal. When I menu plan, I first determine what we already have on hand that I can use for meals. I can usually get the majority of my meals planned. From there, if there are extra ingredients or things I need for dinners, I add them to the grocery list so I don’t forget. Nothing is worse than planning a menu, and realizing I forgot something at the store.
Planning a menu gives us variety in our meals. If I didn’t plan our meals, we would eat a lot of convenience foods and carbohydrates. Sure, I throw in a Stouffer’s lasagna every once in awhile, but it would be SO easy to be a short order cook or just make another box of macaroni and cheese. When I am planning, I try to make sure we have a variety of foods for the week. Red meat, chicken, pork, pizza, etc.
Menu planning is dependable. I’m all about ease and routine in our house. When it is time to meal plan, I fill in “Pizza” on Friday night. Also, I fill in any special events coming up where we will have dinner provided. For example, during Advent and Lent I write “Soup Supper” next to Wednesday on my planning board because we eat dinner at church those evenings before service. Also, if we have youth group on a Sunday evening, I will often write “Leftovers” on Sunday because I know we will be eating and running.
When I step back and look at a menu board that is filled out for the week, I know I am already one step ahead of myself. This takes a huge load off my stress, and I can easily focus on other things for the week ahead. I ask myself what I can do the evening before, or the morning of, to make dinner prep go smoothly that evening. When I refer to “menu planning”, I am only referring to dinner. I do not plan all three meals of the day. I used to do so, when I was home with our kids when they were young and it was very helpful. However, now my main goal is to get a meal on the table every evening for my family. Menu planning helps me do just that!
Will you be meal planning this year? I’d love to hear your tips!