Friday, April 19, 2013

Celebrating Domesticity: Menu Planning

Menu planning has many advantages. It helps avoid impulse buying, lets you save money, offers a great brainstorming opportunity with your family. It also helps let you know the main types of items you need to keep stocked up in your pantry and fridge. What items you can bulk buy at a discount. What coupons you need to stock pile on. MY main reason to menu plan though is it reduces the amount of chaos in my home! As a single, home-educating, working mom, time and planning are very important to me. I work till 5, so when I get home I need to know exactly what my night looks like and how much time we have.

We run on a schedule and meal planning is a huge part of that schedule that keeps everything moving smoothly. Cooking is the first thing I do when I get home after I have given everyone some love. The menu is a life saver. My kids know to check the menu every morning and see what they might need to lay out to thaw for me so we eat on time.  I no longer get calls in the middle of the day asking what can I make for lunch? Whats for dinner? They know! They know because the menu hangs up on the fridge and they know because they helped make the menu, cut the coupons, did the shopping with me and helped calculate how much money we needed before we ever left the house. Hey, I home-school, everything is a learning opportunity :)

Essentials to Good Menu Planning:

1. Coupon book-Keep in your car-you never know when you may get inspired to shop, or get that phone call that you just ran out of milk! This way you will always be ready to double up on savings.

2. Cookbooks-There my best friend. They inspire me to cook healthy for my family and give me wonderful ideas I never would have though of on my own. Plus, my kids like the pictures when they pick meals.

3. Variety-I have 3 kids (18-13-6) so each child gets to plan one full week of meals. I take anything left over and review to make sure all meals are balanced and to everyone's tastes-within reason. We have our meat eaters and our vegetarians in our family so planning meals to make sure everyone gets proper nutrition is important.

4. Detailed list: Keeping a detailed running list of all items you will need to purchase is huge! I hate running all around the store searching for things and I really get agitated when I think I am done shopping, go home and get ready to cook only to see we did not buy a major item we need to make the meal. So we keep a detailed list: can goods, spices, freezer section, refrigeration, vegetables (since they can be frozen or fresh and are on opposite sides of the store), supplies (utensil's, strainer anything outside the norm).

5. Back-up Plan: We have all been there. You scour the store searching for the one item you need to make the stinky recipe and you cannot find it anywhere. Your worn out and do not want to jump store to store searching. We make sure we always (OK,almost always) have a back up recipe for each week, just for these cases. If we don't need it, great, but I have found it better to be prepared.

Sample Menu: 

I am also a huge fan of  Erica's menue planning over at Confessions of  Homeschooler and when I dont have time to plan my own menues, we use hers.

Need a Menu Planner?
If you are interested in receiving a copy of my menu plan send me a message. I love to share and help others out. All I ask it that you please link the menu back to my site.

Linky Party: 

Come and see how others bloggers are celebrating domestically!
12 April 13 - Oak Tree Baby (Art)
19 April 13 – The Foodie Army Wife (Real Food)
23 April 13 – Home-Schooling Greene Style (Menu Planning)
26 April 13 – Kingdom Work Ain’t Easy Peasy (Spanish Food)
30 April 13 – Life at the Scharf House (Baking)
3 May 13 – No Doubt Learning (Gardening)
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