Day 5: Home Organization: Meal Planning
I had not really planned on writing a post about Meal Planning as part of my 5 Days of Home Organization but as the week drew closer I found myself pondering and re-visiting some old ideas. Having a plan or being organized with menus can make the difference between eating home cooked food and living off of fast food.
It also means the difference between insanity and staying sane. I have come to despise the question “what’s for dinner?” If I have to stop and think about it, I get grouchy and irritable. If I have meal plan I can just say “go look and see for yourself.”
I have found that if I do not know what is for dinner by the time we’re eating lunch, I can practically guarantee that I will not be cooking and that we’ll be eating some type of take out.
I’ve written about meal planning before. I wrote about setting up and creating a rotating meal plan. Part 1 talks about rotating menu plans and in Part 2 I walk you through how I set up my rotating menu plan.
There are seasons in the year and seasons of life. As these change, my strategies for meal planning alter. Lately, I’ve been feeling the need for a transformation or at least a regrouping. I usually go through this every May.
Dinners are not the only meal of the day. For some reason those children want to eat breakfast and lunch, too! I have a set menu or frame for breakfasts and lunches. Yes I change it up and make alterations when we get bored (or the seasons change).
So here’s our basic Breakfast menu that we’ve been following:
Monday: Oatmeal – we vary this by adding different fruits or flavorings Tuesday: Eggs (unless it’s Bible study, then it’s breakfast at Bible Study) Wednesday: Bagels or Muffins or even English Muffins (with fruit and/or yogurt)
Thursday: Cold Cereal
Notice I don’t mention Saturday or Sunday. For religious reasons, we don’t eat breakfast on Sunday. And Saturday’s breakfast depends on our plans. We tend to do waffles, or pancakes, or biscuits and gravy on Saturdays. I don’t tend to plan on Saturday lunches either. Sometimes, after a big breakfast, we just don’t want or need a lunch. Sunday’s depend on what we’ve got planned.
So here’s our basic Lunch Menu:
Monday: Sandwiches (usually lunch meat, but they might be egg salad or tuna salad) (sometimes we have left over pizza instead of sandwiches but that’s only if we have left over pizza)
Tuesday: Convenience Lunch. This means something easy to make that I buy like corn dogs or chicken nuggets or mac & Cheese
Thursday: Sandwiches or leftovers
Friday: Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches
So now that brings us back to dinner. So what I’ve been doing for the last six months (well 9 months really) is use Emeals.com. ( You can read my review here.) I received a 3 month subscription as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew and it made life so much easier that I purchased a 6 month subscription, but as I said above I’m needing a change. For the last several weeks, emeals.com hasn’t thrilled me. It gets old trying new recipes nearly every day week after week. We’re all wanting to revisit some old family favorites. What I’ll miss most about emeals.com though is the grocery list.
So what will I be doing now? I’m revisiting the idea of bulk cooking. Not necessarily doing the full “cook for a day, eat for month” concept but here’s what I will be doing:
Buying fresh chicken breasts and freezing them in meal sized portions with the marinade. As the chicken defrosts, it will marinate and then I can have Honeybear grill it.
I’ll get some cheaper cuts of beef (like round steak or chuck steak) and do the same thing. Freeze them in a marinade, thaw and grill.
I’ll cook up a basic ground beef mix (I learned about this from Frozen Assets by Deborah Taylor-Hough). It’s ground beef cooked with onions, celery, and green pepper. I’ll freeze it in meal size portions and use it for spaghetti sauce, chili, cheeseburger pie,, sloppy joes, tacos etc. This is great to have on hand for those times when you forget to plan a meal and you really don’t want to do take out for the 5th day in a row.
I’ll also buy some ground beef to make into different hamburgers. (Currently in the freezer I have teriyaki burgers. The idea is from the Once a Month Cooking book..). I’ll do some “plain” and some flavored and we’ll have these available to grill.
And when Honeybear is grilling meat, I’ll have him grill extra chicken that can be used in my Grilled Chicken Bacon Ranch pasta salad or Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad.
I still have a few weeks left of my emeals.com subscription so I’ll be pondering what kind of frame or structure I want for our weekly meals. I find it so much easier if I have something like “Grill on Sunday, Pasta on Monday, ” It helps me to sort and organize my meal ideas.
I also want to get back into using my crock pot more often but I think that is topic for another post on another day. Do you have a meal preparation or meal planning tip that helps you? How do you organize your meals?
Be sure and take time to visit the other blogs participating in the 5 Days of Blogging. Click on the Button below to go to the Crew Blog to see all the different topics!