I envy the people who have created systems for their homes and have made them work. I want to be that person.
A few years ago when I was in MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), we had a session where we talked about meal planning. The mom who shared her techniques makes up a monthly meal plan. I loved the idea of not struggling to figure out what to cook for dinner at 5:00 that night. So, I happily filled out the monthly meal chart she shared with us and I made that work...for one month.
Planning meals a month in advance was actually a bit too far ahead for me. Being a fly by the seat of my pants kind of person (and family), we might not always know a month in advance what each evening has in store for us. So, monthly meal charts didn't work for us.
Then, a couple years later I came up with the idea of having my children helping to plan weekly meals. I wrote a little about that here. That actually worked really well. At that point, my youngest son was too young to participate. But, the three older boys would take one week to plan the meals/ be helper chef. And, we'd also rotate setting/ clearing the table duties, and cleaning the dishes duties.
I would help them plan the meals. (We need to have a vegetable with each meal...and something those vegetables need to be green). And, it worked really well for several months. One of the things I'm conscious of as a mom of 4 boys is to raise young men who are capable of taking care of themselves. I want them to know how to prepare meals and cleanup....among other household responsibilities. I'm not saying I'm always successful at this. But, I definitely think about it quite a bit and hopefully I'm preparing them for adult life.
I'm not sure how we got off track with our weekly meal plans, but somehow we did. And, recently my boys actually asked if we could get back into the routine of having them help plan meals like we used to. And, so we have. I took the first week, but then each boy got a week of their own after that. We've completely 5 weeks and are currently in our 6th week. It's my week again.
It's been great! We'll sit down one day over the weekend & whichever boy has the next week will plan out meals for Monday-Sunday. Then, based on that meal plan I make up a grocery list of items that I need for the week. It's so nice to simply turn to my calendar and see what's planned for each day. No more agonizing over what to make at the last minute!
And, we've thrown in some newer dishes as well. One of the meals I had planned was Chicken Piccata, Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Onions, and Roasted Asparagus. That's not one I would have been able to just whip up at the last minute. It was delicious! And, while not all of our meals are that fancy shmancy....most are quite simple...I don't have to worry about whether or not I have the ingredients I need to make something.
Here's our menu for this week. This was a mommy meal plan. Monday & Tuesday are super simple because of meetings that my husband and I had those evenings. And, Fridays are always Family Movie Night & we plan something 'fun'....tacos or homemade pizza or the like.
Monday: Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese
Tuesday: Chicken Tortilla Soup
Wednesday: Chicken Paprikash, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Roasted California Veggies
Thursday: Slow Cooker Pork Roast, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Autumn Chopped Salad
Friday: Home-made Turkey burgers, Oven Fries
Saturday: Spicy Orange Chicken Stirfry with Rice
Sunday: Crockpot Meatloaf, Buttered Noodles, Peas
And, here's a sample of one of the boy's weekly menus. This one was by Charlie who is 7.
Monday: Ranch chicken tenders, Cheesy Broccoli, Oven Fries
Tuesday: Tuna Noodle Casserole, Lima Beans
Wednesday: Chicken Corn Noodle Soup, Homemade Bread
Thursday: Ham, Corn, Mashed Potatoes
Friday: Taco Night, Rice & Beans
Saturday: Shrimp Scampi, Salad
Sunday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches
My other goal, besides being more organized with our meal planning, was to hopefully reduce my grocery bill. I thought that with having meals planned out and having a specific grocery list that I'd actually spend less. Unfortunately that hasn't come to pass yet. My boys are growing and they are ALWAYS hungry.
I try to buy a minimum amount of snack items and make cookies, desserts, etc. from scratch. But, somehow at the end of every week, the cupboards are bare again. For instance, this past grocery trip I bought 2 bunches of bananas. They didn't even last 24 hours in our house. And, we've been going through those boxes of clementines like they're candy. The boys will sometimes wolf down two boxes of those in a week's time. And, don't even get me started on milk! We seriously should consider buying a cow!