Why plan a menu

First things first, why in the world would anyone want to take the time to make a menu plan? There are close to a gazillion different reasons, and I can’t attest to all of them, but I will explain why we do it.

First, without a menu plan I have a tendency to procrastinate. (As in, I’ll figure out what to make for dinner later. Later comes and goes and suddenly it is six o’clock and I have six hungry mouths screaming for food. Add to that the fact that my youngest goes to bed at seven, and you can see just how precarious of a situation this is!)

Second, careful menu planning saves me money. What’s the use in buying 20 pounds of chicken when it is on sale if half of it gets freezer burnt before you use it up and even the dog won’t touch it? And yes, unfortunately that has happened in this house more than I care to admit!

Third, I am a busy mom. I am a homemaker, homeschooler, and small business owner. It may seem like I have no time for menu planning, but the reality of it is that I don’t have the time or money not to plan! When I don’t plan I get caught up in the moment and end up spending $50 on pizza delivery instead of $10 on healthy and nutritious food for my family. By the time I realize that I have nothing for dinner it is already six o’clock, so by the time the pizza is delivered it is already close to seven. My youngest (who is sure to be VERY cranky by this point in time) falls asleep in her highchair before she has finished eating. This just means that she will wake up even earlier in the morning screaming for breakfast because she is starving. My other kids will stay up later than usual, because not a single one of them can seem to go to sleep until their food has had time to digest. So, the next day starts out with a screaming toddler waking me up an hour earlier than usual, and three other kids that I can’t drag out of bed. They are exhausted and lethargic so it takes them forever to finish their schoolwork. This puts me behind getting my chores done, and before you know it, it’s dinner time again and I haven’t accomplished my tasks for the day let alone started dinner. Okay, so maybe life isn’t always that bad if I have to order pizza, but it’s not far from the truth either. Seriously, menu planning adds hours to my day!

With a menu plan I simply check in the morning what we are having, set any meat out to thaw, throw everything together in the crockpot or set an alarm to go off when I need to start dinner, and then I don’t worry about it again. So simple, so stress free, and so completely worth every minute it takes me to put the plan together!

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Menu planning

Many times in my married life I’ve sat down and made menu plans. For some reason I always get on them, do wonderfully, hit a snag, and give up. Unfortunately that’s been a resounding fact that applies to a lot of my life in general, try, succeed, hit snag, fail, give up. Not a good cycle! So, once again I’m back on a menu plan and I’m determined to make some changes!

My first change is the fact that I’m cutting myself some slack. Sure I WANT to be perfect, but that only lasts for so long and then it’s too much to handle. The second is that I’m throwing some cheat meals in the plan as well. No matter how good a meal sounds when you are making your plans, eventually there will be one day when you go to check your list and realize that the meal sounded great yesterday, the day before, and will probably sound good next week, but today it’s the last thing that you want to eat. That’s just life and what’s the point in planning if you don’t factor in the inconsistency of life? I am always prepared for days when what I have planned doesn’t sound good, for I prompts road trips on days when I have planned a seven course meal, and for those days when you just wake up wishing that you could stay in bed for the entire day.

I plan my menu, and then add a few “cheat meals”. They may be a quick meal that my daughter can make all by herself like spaghetti, a meal that Hubby would be more than happy to make like grilled burgers, or just something quick and easy like chili dogs. These cheat meals have been such a plan saver! I’ve never lasted more than two weeks on a strict menu plan, but with these cheat meals I am now finishing up month 2 of daily menu plans and loving it!

Stay tuned for menu planning 101 along with my personal menu plan:)