Meal Planning Made Easy

When it comes to meal plans, I’ve done it all.

Before we had kids, and especially when Hubs and I were first married, I created all kinds of new-fangled dishes (even trying to be creative with stale chips when we were broke) and followed recipes for no other reason than to make an impression.

I was all about making sure Hubs had the cooking-est wife on the planet.

Then something happened after we had children. You can only have cereal and frozen waffles for dinner so many times before it stops being an “occurrence” and becomes a lifestyle.

So we tried E-mealz. And loved it. Then stopped it.

Then it was “Oh crap, it’s 4:00. What’s for dinner?” every night forever.

We went back to E-mealz. We even tried Build-A-Menu. Both of these are great programs, and we ate some great meals. But consistency in cooking every. single. night. is not my strong suit.

Even with a plan, when 4:00 would hit, I didn’t have the energy to make it.

Sometimes I throw together an awesome meal Hubs and I can’t scarf enough of, while we sit through incessant critiques from the youngest members of our household.

So this menu thing became a crapshoot.

I know what my family likes, I know what the kids will eat, and I refuse to make separate meals. (Oh yes, I refuse.)

I had to make it simple, and I had to make it work, because the 4:00 curse was getting really old really fast.

This new system came about the same time I restructured some of our homeschool schedule for the simple fact what we were doing wasn’t maximizing our time.

I came up with a homeschool/cleaning/menu routine. That’s right – a menu routine.

Rather than come up with a new meal each night and pray my people consume it without complaint, I created a theme for each night of the week.

Mondays: Brinner. We love brinner (breakfast for dinner) in this house, and options are limitless with this. From eggs and bacon to french toast, from skillet to pancakes (or even the proverbial cereal), brinner is rarely the same week to week. We did do skillet two Mondays in a row (sausage, potatoes, eggs, and cheese) because it’s delicious, but I’m always switching this one up.

Tuesdays: “Taco” day. Again, we do not have plain ol’ tacos every Tuesday (though for the record, I would be more than okay with that). Sometimes we do have plain ol’ tacos, but they’re not a favorite of our kids (whose kids are these, anyway?!). Sometimes I can get away with buttering tortillas and crisping them in a pan and they seem to go over better than just wrapping a tortilla around taco filling. Sometimes we have “taco snow” which is taco meat and cheese tossed on top of a pile of jasmine rice. The kids eat this like candy, and I don’t understand. Sometimes we have nachos, sometimes taco salad, but the premise remains – we do something with taco meat. And cheese.

Wednesday is our quick-fix night. The kids have church activities and we make something quick they’ll eat before they go. Usually hot dogs, mac and cheese, or sandwiches. Nothing fancy, but quick and painless.

Thursday is my slow-cooker day. Roast, chicken breasts, chili, soup, whatever I can throw in the crock pot that morning becomes dinner that night. And when I forget, (which sometimes happens) bonus brinner night!

Friday is “Fancy”. This does not necessarily mean we have a fancy meal. This means I make whatever suits my fancy. Steaks, homemade burgers, fish filets in butter sauce, fried rice… Whatever we’ve got I can turn into a meal of my choice, I make it happen.

Weekends we have leftovers, snacks, and fend-for-ourselves. I keep waiting for people to show up and say “We randomly decided to cook you dinner AND drive 20 minutes out of town to deliver it to you.” but so far that hasn’t happened.

And this is how we operate each week. Every day I have a general idea of what the meal is supposed to be that night, and when 4:00 rolls around, I’ve already got it covered.

We’ve been doing this for weeks now, and I love it. LOVE it. It works for us, it’s simple, it’s flexible, and I don’t have to stress over recipes or finicky eaters or special ingredients I’m only going to use one time.

Admittedly, it’s funny I’m posting this tonight, because I gave up on life around 2:30 today and we’re having frozen pizza for dinner because I can’t even bring myself to scramble eggs.

But…flexibility. Freedom. And Frozen Pizza. All staples in life.

Whaddya think? Will a system like this help you meal plan easier?

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