Planning the Meals

Menu Planning for all family sizes and needs. It seems no matter how much I feed them, they are hungry again. I have to feed them at least five times a day! And it doesn’t really matter if you have 2 kids or 10 kids, you still have to feed them on a regular basis. 

But seriously, feeding our families is a HUGE part of what we do every day. And just cooking the meals isn’t the only part. We have to plan those meals, budget money for those meals and buy groceries for those meals. This takes intention and effort.

I started meal planning when my first three were little. I’m a bit ADD and had a hard time having to plan out food for a week at a time. But our tiny budget forced me to do this. I tried many planning sheets, but quickly came to just make my own, even if that meant I just scribbled it down on a piece of notebook paper.

The beginning of my meal planning days simply consisted of dinner plans. There were only three little ones in the house and we could easily grab something easy for breakfast and lunch. Dinner was planned ahead so that I could be sure to grab what I needed, cook those beans ahead of time or defrost meat.

Fast forward to today, where ten hungry mouths beckon me five times a day … at least. Every meal and snack must be carefully accounted for or we end up eating oatmeal for days on end.

To start you need your menu planning worksheet.

Either create your own or download the many available. My subscribers get a free downloadable copy of my worksheet. 😉 This is your brain on paper. Make it work for you, make it fit your needs.

My worksheet has my weekly calendar right there so that I can plan my meals around our activities. I hang it on the refrigerator and not only can everyone know what’s for dinner, they know what’s happening.

All meal plans start with a well stocked pantry.

A well stocked pantry allows you a lot of freedom and wiggle room in your menu planning. Knowing what is at hand gives a lifting off point for your menu plan. This is true whether you do weekly, bi-monthly or monthly planning.

Creative ways to menu plan for all families.

{Be sure to subscribe and get access to the Subscriber’s Freebie Corner. There you will not only find a weekly menu planning worksheet, but also my pantry list. }

Find a pattern to keep menu planning moving.

Menu planning isn’t the most exciting part of my week, believe it or not. And I don’t want to spend my whole Saturday planning out the next week either. To avoid that, I find patterns to help me choose what to feed the zoo.

What patterns do I speak of?

  1. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
  2. Theme Nights
  3. Cook through a Cookbook
  4. What’s in the pantry

First, there is the obvious repeat the same meals every month. This makes menu planning and grocery shopping incredibly easy, but I get bored easily. I do use the same breakfasts every week because I hate thinking in the morning.

Then I use theme nights for dinners.  Tuesday’s we have Mexican food, Thursday’s we do crock pot meals. You could also pick a theme for every night of the week to help with choosing recipes. Asian, Italian, Mediterranean, American, Soups, Casseroles, Pizza ….

Currently my oldest daughter is starting a new cookbook series, so we are going through that cookbook and using at least one recipe a day. This is a fun way to freshen up your recipe collection.

And finally, there is the end-of-the-month, no-more-budget-left method. Make a list of everything in your freezer, refrigerator and pantry and create your menu from that. This takes creativity and a good attitude.

Now let’s eat!

All this talk of food has me hungry! So while I’m eating something yummy, you can enjoy “Our Life in 5” video on menu planning.

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