A Meal Planning Strategy

You would think that homeschool families have no problem getting dinner on the table each night. You know, since we are home all day. (cue the sarcasm)

The same question plagues homeschool families at the end of the day that plagues households across the country.

“What’s for dinner?” 

This can be the most stressful part of the day. Everyone is tired and hungry. No one wants to come up with a meal idea then. Come up with a meal planning strategy and take the stress away!

Plan Your Meals

Each Sunday night, I plan our meals for the coming week- breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When I am planning, I have the following items with me:  a note book, pen, the family calendar, the grocery store sale ad, and a couple cookbooks or favorite recipes websites.

The notebook is for writing down the menu items and their ingredients that I don’t have on hand.  I always check the grocery ads first.  There is nothing more frustrating for me that to go to the store looking for a particular cut of meat or produce item only to learn they don’t have that this week or it is 3X what I thought I’d have to pay for it.  So, I check to see what meat and produce is on sale and in stock and I base my menu off of that.

Cookbooks and recipe websites jog my memory when choosing dishes and help me to be sure I remember all the ingredients I need.  I love to cook, so I am always searching my cookbooks for at least one new dish each week. I keep a family recipe binder for quick access to our favorites.

The family calendar helps me know when to plan what kind of meal. Some nights I have time to cook just before dinner time and other nights I need to break out the crock pot or left overs. I can, also, see if we have need of sack lunches for fieldtrips or a day running errands.

Meal Planning Strategy

Make A Grocery List

Grocery shopping used to be the worst part of my week.  It would take me an hour and a half criss-crossing the store trying to decide what sounded good to eat for the next week or so.  I would get to the check out, pay too much money and realize I had nothing there for dinner that night.  What a waste of time and money!  No wonder I hated it so much!

Now, I don’t really mind getting the groceries, because I always have a plan going in.

Instead of just aimlessly wandering the store, I go in with a list.  The list I take to the store is actually made up of two lists.

One list comes off the magnetic list on the fridge.  This is where I jot down staple items as I run out or notice I am getting low on them.

The other list comes from my menu.

Stick With The Plan

I am fairly flexible with the order of the meals, but I try to stick with the meals I have planned for the week. When I have a meal planned, I don’t waste money going out to eat. If I always make the meals I have planned instead of deciding to make something else, I don’t waste time and money on extra trips to the store.

Sticking with the plan makes one less thing to worry about during our day.

Benefits of Meal Planning

Making menus assures me that my family will be fed nutritious meals and that I won’t have to stress over what’s for dinner.  It also assures me that I won’t overspend at the grocery store!

Not every meal has to be spectacular.  However, I do feel that they need to be enjoyable, stress-free, and consistent.  There is something very calming and uniting about sitting down with the family for a meal.  The dinner table is a place and time where families can catch up on the day and learn about each other.

Do you plan your menu or do you do it on the fly? How are either working for you?

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About the author  ⁄ Marci Goodwin

Marci Goodwin can be found blogging at TheHomeschoolScientist.com, where her goal is to take the fear out of and put the fun into homeschool science. Check out her science column in Homeschooling Today Magazine.

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