Monday, June 09, 2008

Menu Planning? Even in the Summer?

"She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness."
Proverbs 31:27

Menu planning? Even in the summer? Yes! Today I decided to share some great reasons to plan your menu, even during the "lazy days" of summer. I have found in recent years that planning my menu for each week helps me to "look well to the ways of my household." There are many things that may or may not happen each day in my family, depending on the day or the schedule. We may or may not have a sports practice. We may not have a science lesson. We may or may not have a doctor's appointment, a haircut, or have friends come to play. But the one given in my home every single day, 365 days a year is that everyone will want to eat that day. Sometimes ::gasp:: even multiple times per day! Days have a way of being nutty enough while raising kids, so why punctuate your day- 3+ times per day- with indecision? I found that as a mom of young children years ago, I had to "think on my feet" enough, making decisions about discipline, play dates, activities, phone calls, and the myriad of issues that come with raising children. "What's for dinner?" was something I could settle early on and then free my mind to deal with other things!

In the summer I think it can be even more valuable to have a plan. It's so nice to be out and about, at the pool, or at a movie knowing that back at home dinner's in the crock pot (which I use a LOT in the summer because it doesn't heat up the kitchen) or the hot dogs are ready to go on the grill. When we all tumble in the back door shedding swim towels and flip flops, and stomachs are growling, it's a gift to myself and to my family that I have already thought ahead about what we are going to eat. In the summer it's as important as ever! But I have also found that summer is also a season for flexibility because life seems to be more spontaneous. Last week one night I had dinner in the crock pot and our day took a fun turn and we ended up meeting some friends for dinner. So... into a container in the fridge it went and we enjoyed it over the weekend. Planning doesn't prevent spontaneity.

Meal planning is just that: a plan. It doesn't mean a gourmet menu. You can start by seeing what you already have on hand. If you know you have chicken nuggets in your freezer, then you can start right now by planning to have those tomorrow night. There, that's a plan. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or a can of soup tonight? That's a plan. It feels so good to have a plan! I used to just jot down on my calendar what I was planning for dinner each night of the week. Then, it morphed into listing it on a note card which I would put on the side of the refrigerator. Then I found these menu planning forms at Donna Young's site (a site that helped me get organized for school as well... LOVE this site.) Now I have a whole binder.

Now that I've rambled on about planning, here's our plan for the week:

Monday: grilled pork chops, broccoli cheese casserole
Tuesday: chicken enchiladas, corn casserole, black beans
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: Southwestern Fish Tacos
Friday: Crock Pot French Dip sandwiches

For more menu plans and some great advice on organizing (and menu planning!) visit Laura at Organizing Junkie.

I hope your summer has gotten off to a great start! Have a great week!


Betsy said...

Great menu! Thanks for sharing!

Nancy said...

I use a menu plan & shopping list from Donna Young's site also. Love it. I'm with you on the fact that menu planning makes life much, much easier. It's one less thing I have to think about.

Anonymous said...

The broccoli and cheese casserole sounds yummy!

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I can't live without my menu. It makes everything flow more smoothly for all the reasons you mentioned.

Susanne said...

Do you have a recipe for your corn casserole? Your menu looks yummy as usual!

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

I love this post and all the reasons you gave for menu planning.

Lisa a.k.a. The Preacher's Wife said...

i was just making a grocery list and that french dip recipe looks great!

long time, no see my friend! so sorry i've been such a bloggy slacker. hope all is well with your family :))