Menu Plan: Fill a Month’s Worth of Meals in Minutes

The Background:

I’m a busy mom of 4 kiddos, I’m active in my Church and serve whenever I am able. AND I own a mobile pop-up boutique. LuLaRoe has blessed my family in so many ways. But let’s be real. LuLaRoe is not cooking my family dinner every night. I will admit that I loved planning dinner once upon a time and looked forward to it. However, that time has passed and now Dinner is a daily chore that needs to get done. Honestly, I’d rather sweep, vacuum or rake leaves than execute dinnertime!

I have found that while we delegate and share the responsibility of actual preparation, it’s best if there is a plan and the necessary ingredients on hand when the fateful 5 o’clock witching hour arrives. It makes this chore bearable to know that there’s something planned and just needs to be put together.

The Plan:

I print out a generic calendar. I fill it out with a month and the corresponding dates. Easy right? It actually gets easier!

Have you heard of Taco Tuesday? What about Meatless Monday? I’ve taken that a bit further and have applied categories to the different days of the week. For instance, we are at Church during lunchtime and are famished by the time we arrive home. It just makes sense to plan a Crock-Pot meal that day. I love that it’s ready when we are!

We love Mexican food at our house! So, we eat it at least one night a week. Our themes chance from month to month depending on what’s happening. For instance, Wednesday nights are tedious at best. We have 4 different members of this family going 4 different directions with one driver. I don’t want to make anything (and honestly there really isn’t time). Ta~Da! Leftovers! If there aren’t any, then it’s Breakfast for dinner that night.

This month our themes are: Crock-Pot, Soup, Mexican, Breakfast/Leftovers, Pasta, Wildcard and Pizza. YUMMY….Pizza! That’s why we have it every Saturday!

Next, I just go down the column and list 4 different soups that my family likes. Halloween falls on Monday this year, so I went easy with grilled cheese and tomato soup. Who wants to be slaving over chili when you can be out having fun with your trick-or-treaters?

I do the same for each column and before you know it, your month is pretty well planned. Of course, it always helps to have your favorite beverage or treat to help you with this task. I once had a professor in college that encouraged us to go to the “Testing Center” (where all of our tests would take place) and just sit in the stairwell and eat Nibs. He wanted us to have a positive association with the Testing Center. We can apply the same logic here: by having a Diet Coke at my side, the task is a little more enjoyable!

Once my calendar is filled out, I create a shopping list for the next week…or maybe two. Then I know that I have the necessary ingredients to make what’s on my Calendar.

I’ve been planning my meals this way for years. I really helps me stay on track and not fall down the “Pinterest” hole while I’m trying to find something my family will eat.

Some of the other themes to consider: Salads, BBQ Grill, One-Pot Wonders, Sandwiches, Take-Out, New Adventures, Lightened Up…..

The possibilities are endless. Have fun with it!

The Conclusion:

When I take a few minutes to plan out our month, I’ve noticed that the dread of meal preparation lessens. I’ve also had the privilege of  providing a meal for a family in need at a moment’s notice because I know I have the ingredients on hand.

This is what works for our family. But, I’m sure your asking yourself, “What if I don’t feel like soup on Monday?” That’s OK. You’ll have everything you need to skip it or switch it to something you already have planned, knowing that the supplies are in your cupboards and fridge. With a plan in place, you have the freedom to be flexible.

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