The Ins, Outs, and Whys of Menu Planning

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs from Pexels

I wish I had thought about meal planning when we first started a family. I think it would have made things easier as our family began to grow larger. By the time I had our daughter (baby number 5), I finally figured out that having a plan was the way to begin to simplify home life. Mind you, I was a full-time homemaker at that time with “only” five children. But I was a busy homemaker – as the majority of homemakers are. We homeschooled the kids, grew the largest garden that we could, preserved that harvest year after year as best we could, and prepared fresh, home cooked meals the majority of the time.

And then there was the penny pinching that we were forced to do. That in itself is a full-time job. And I became quite good at it.

As the years have gone by, I have learned to scale down my meal sizes to suit five people rather than seven, unless we have company …. but you know how that is discouraged these days.

There are some things that I continue in earnest, things like a large garden and preserving that harvest year after year.

Then there’s the menu planning. For a while, I tried to wing it by skipping that one chore on Sunday evening. You can guess how that went. I work until 5:00 most nights and one day of the week I actually work until 7:00. That’s the night when the family needs to know not only what they are having, but perhaps have it all ready in the slow cooker. Menu planning had to be re-implemented. And it’s been a good thing.

The best way that I have found to create a meal plan is the way that I get the most enjoyment. That means that I DON’T like to spend a lot of time on the computer looking things up or typing them into a program and then printing, or maybe just typing and no printing at all (bringing them up on a phone or other screen when I need them). You see, I work in an office setting for four hours every day at my job. I don’t have the desire to continue that office setting at home any more than I need to.

I like to spend time in real, physical books so the old-fashioned cookbooks are for me. I have quite a collection of them, but nothing as extensive as some people I know. I like to write things down on real paper with a real pen (blue ink preferred, or red when I’m in a fun mood), so I write out my menu plan each week, beginning with Monday.

I only plan out the evening meals and I do so by first figuring out what ingredients I have on hand. Rarely do I ever decide to cook something that requires going out to buy ingredients first. Sometimes I have to do a quick visual inventory of the pantry or freezers. My husband is a huge meat eater and if I don’t plan the meal around meat, I’m in a little bit of trouble. Between you and me, however, I do make vegetables the star. Our basement shelves are full of home canned veggies and I enjoy going “shopping” there the best.

When the meal plan is complete, it is posted on the refrigerator so nobody has to ask “what’s for supper tonight?”

What if you want to participate in some of those blog memes such as Menu Plan Monday? If you want to share your creativity or special recipes, I would encourage you to do that. Adding your blog posts to these memes also drives visitors to your site and that is always a good thing.

Some of my favorite food bloggers with menu plan themes are:

Organizing Junkie

two peas and their pod

Meal Plan Addict

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

I hope you will give meal planning a try soon. Below is my meal plan for the coming Christmas week.

Monday

  • Cheesy Sloppy Joes
  • Green Beans
  • Roasted Potatoes and Squash

Tuesday – Christmas with the married kids

  • BBQ Beef Sandwiches (slow roasted with skirt steak strips)
  • Scalloped Potatoes
  • Cheese ball and Crackers
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Relish Plate
  • Christmas Cookies

Wednesday

  • Roasted Pork Loin
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Mixed Vegetables

Thursday – Christmas Eve

  • Meatballs
  • French Fries
  • Raw Veggies with Dip
  • Nachos
  • Cookies

Friday – Christmas Day (yes, it’s a time for feasting)

  • Baked Ham
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Frozen Sweet Corn
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Dinner Rolls with jams, jellies, and apple butter
  • Pecan Pie (gluten-free)
  • Apple Pie
  • Pumpkin Pie (gluten-free)

Saturday

Left-overs

Sunday

On Your Own

Published by Jeff and Rita

Rita is a wife, mother, homesteader, library branch manager, and freelance writer. She enjoys spending time in the garden and later preserving the harvest. Gardening, knitting, tending to chickens and other critters, and taking long summer walks are among her favorite activities. Jeff has had a long time love of waterfowl and gamebirds. He spends his time working part-time as a courier when he is not enjoying his collection of wild ducks and pheasants from around the world.

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