Before starting this journey, we would go to the grocery store, pick up what looked good, and then every night wonder what we would make for dinner the next day. This left us buying a lot more convenience food - less healthy and more expensive!
The other huge benefit of this process is that we have become really strong as a family at sitting down for at least 30 minutes each night and having dinner together. That to me is priceless.
Here is how I plan the menu for the week. I look through the fridge and freezer to inventory what we have. Usually I spend the weekend cooking meals or freezing into crock pot meals whatever has not been used during the week. That leaves me to plan the menu for Monday through Friday. I grab a piece of paper and start filling it in. Some menu items are recurrent and some are new ideas that I got from Pinterest or from the top of my head. Here are my planning factors:
- If I know we have a busy evening of kid activities, I either have to plan to bake the meal the night before so we can microwave and eat when everyone is home, or I have to have a crock pot meal prepped that morning for us to have for dinner. I do maintain an inventory of freezer food for this purpose.
- I plan at least one meatless night per week. This week, there will be a homemade pizza night. A good topic for a future post.
- I think about side dishes each night - making sure there is something for the kids to enjoy (like noodles, bread, potatoes) as well as a vegetable. I build the side items into the shopping list as I go, as well as the meats. It is important to me to make sure that everybody is happy with what is on the menu. I post it on Thursday night so that the family can review Friday morning and they have an opportunity to voice any objections or requests. I know I am a stickler about my meals, but that does not mean that everyone has to conform to what I like. Balance is important and kids should get to enjoy a variety of foods they like.
|Here is the menu for the week. Broken down by day and by meal.|
The breakfast and lunch items are for the kids.
Lunches are typically dinner leftovers for me and my husband.
The dinner items are for the entire family.
|Here is the shopping list based on the menu. |
Some items I already have on hand, which is why you don't see them on the shopping list.