When I was in elementary school my brother and I complained one too many times about my mom’s meals. She’s an excellent cook, but I guess we were stuck in a food rut. So she placed the responsibility on our shoulders as any smart mother would do. Each of us got a week to lay out the meals for every dinner. On Sunday she’d sit us down and spend 15 minutes talking out menus so she could plan the shop, within reason, no Prime Rib on a random Tuesday. That was saved for special occasions. Best of all for her, no one complained. I didn’t make a peep about my brother’s requests for tacos, since I was getting my chicken fried rice the next week.
It developed our interest in food and helped us see what it takes to keep a family fed.
It was a great move for our family and it’s one I’ve kept with me even back when I WAS a newlywed with no children yet. Every Sunday I spend 15 minutes brainstorming menus for the week. I’ve gone slightly more high-tech than Mom’s plan on notebook paper.
I use an excel spreadsheet. Each day of the week has a box, and below I list weekly activities and the shopping list. Listing activities helps so if a kid has sports practice or an evening school event, I know I’m making pasta or a quick dish that night. I also breakout the shopping list into supermarket categories. (produce, snacks, dairy, freezer, etc…). This helps my nocturnal husband do the shop at the 24 hour Harris Teeter. (Yes, you read that right, he likes to shop alone at 3 am. I love it, cause I wake up to a stocked kitchen!)
It also saves a boatload of time & money. I rarely do the 6:00 blank stare into the pantry. “Uhh, what’s for dinner?” I plan the meals carefully. If I make pasta with broccoli on Monday. You may see that broccoli in Tuesday’s veggie stir-fry. We generally only have to go to the market once a week because I know just what to buy.
I hang the meal plan up on the kitchen bulletin board so the kids know to check it. I haven’t quite advanced to outsourcing the menu planning to the kids (we’d have pizza & pasta every night) but we’re inching closer.
What do you do? Are you a planner or a panster? I’m also happy to share my spreadsheet if interested. Just email. There’s also a great website called the 6 O’Clock Scramble. www.thescramble.com Which gives the weekly meal plan AND healthy recipes. Bon Appetit!