Monday, May 5, 2014

It's 5 o'clock! What's for dinner?

It's 5 o'clock.

You are exhausted.

All you want to do is put your feet up and enjoy the evening.

But your kids want to know what is for supper.

And you realize that You. Have. No. Idea. 

I know!  I've been there!  So many nights, we would end up with breakfast, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or whatever could be scrambled up from the cabinets for supper.  It stressed me out.  Every. Single. Day. to not know what we were going to eat, to have to get up every morning and think all day long about what would require only what we already had on hand, that would not require me asking my husband to run to the overpriced local grocery store to get something.  I would get very little completed during the day because I was so concerned about what I was going to make.  Stress was the game of the day, and the kids and I were grumpy and hungry come dinner time.

That is why I am here with a solution!  You do not have to experience this.  It's an easy fix that does not cost a dime, and it will probably SAVE you money.

 Its a pretty big secret.

Are you ready?

Are you sure?!

It's called Menu Planning.


I told you it's simple!

Every month, I gather all of my supplies, I sit down, and write out a menu. For the whole month.  I try not to repeat any recipes, or only once, at the beginning and the end of the month.  I space out what kind of food we are having, and I plan for leftovers.

Here's how:

1.  Decide what format you want to use. 

You can use a calendar, a notepad, or your iphone.  Whatever works!

I'm a pen and paper kind of gal, so I use a notepad.  I write the dates/day of the week down the margin of the paper.

2.  Gather your recipes.

I use mainly my recipe box and pinterest.

3.  Check your calendar for any plans that may affect your dinner.  

Will you need to leave shortly after dinner time?  Will you arrive home just in time for dinner?  Will you need to eat away from home any nights?  Mark them down on your meal plan.

4.  If you are a family who usually has leftovers, pick what night is best for that, and mark it every week.  

Ours is usually Wednesday.  Scott has to be out the door before 6 pm, and currently, we have ball practice at 6:30.  That makes dinner a little earlier, so it's just easier to have leftovers. 

5.  Start filling in your menu with meals that your family enjoys.  

I start with one type of meal (beef, chicken, pork, pasta, vegetarian), and fill them in.  This way, I am aware of how ofter we are eating that type of meal in a month.

6.  After the main dish is filled out for the month, I go back and write in the side dishes as well.  

Generally, this means salad and a veggie dish. 

7.  Decide how often you will grocery shop and make your shopping list.  

My grocery shopping time is limited, as I have extra children all day in my home, and my children have practice nearly every night of the week.  This has "helped" me to decide to do shopping approximately every two weeks, with quick trips once or twice between to pick up a few things, like milk, bread, and fresh produce.

I do not shop for 14 meals when I grocery shop.  I buy for about ten meals.  I know that we do not eat dinner at home on Sundays (We are usually at my mom's, or on the rare occasion, we eat out.).  I also know that sometimes we have more leftovers than I planned, so there are extra meals in there.  Sometimes, we just have sandwiches for dinner because it works.  (Or because I forgot to check the menu that morning!)

8.  Check your menu every morning, and check your recipe so that you know how much time to plan for dinner preparations.  

So often, this is where I will fall off of the boat.  I forget to check the menu, to get the ingredients out of the freezer, or to be sure that we have everything needed.  

This is not a magic potion.  You have to do the leg work and keep it in front of you every. single. day.  But when you follow these steps, you will find that dinner is much less stressful, and you do no
t have to think about it all day long!

So tell me, 

How do you avoid the "what's for dinner stress?"

What strategies are working for you?

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