Monday, September 20, 2010

Martha Mondays - What's For Dinner Mom?

I know you've probably heard this already, but meal planning can not only help your time management but also your wallet.

I've been menu planning for apx. 7 years. I haven't always been faithful to it. There have been months and/or weeks where I haven't planned out our meals. I notice what these times are like to me and my family- chaotic, stressful and just hair pulling crazy.

I started menu planning when my daughter was 2 months old. I did it to make sure that we didn't go out for dinner during my parent's two week visit with us. We were just getting used to being on 1.5 income (I'm sorry to inform my dear American friends but we receive 1 year maternity benefits in Canada). I was also tired of eating out as we had done a lot of that during my pregnancy and I wanted to try to start losing that baby weight. So I made a two week plan. I drew a two week calendar and wrote down what I wanted to cook for those two weeks off the top of my head and then I made a shopping list of things I needed to get. Those two weeks went so well that I decided to continue to meal plan.

Over the years, I have tried out some prepared meal plans by other websites and authors. My favourite so far has been by Sandi Richard. Her book "Cooking for the Rushed" really taught me how to meal plan and that meals can be quick and easy and good. This book works on a twelve week meal plan, providing five meals a week. Sandi has a cooking show in Canada called Dinner Rush. While watching it I learned about Fright Night (not a Halloween party) - that night that you have only 10 minutes to eat and even less to cook. I've taken many of her helpful hints and used them in my own meal planning regime.

When I meal plan, I pull out my favourite cook books and make a handwritten calendar in a note book. I start writing down frozen left overs that I may have (ie spaghetti, chili, etc..). Then I usually try to break down each week with at least one pasta, two chicken, two pork and one crock pot meal (Wednesday night fright night meal). Fridays are the easiest day to plan as we usually have pizza or chicken nuggets for our Family Movie Night when I let the kids eat in front of the TV while they watch their movies. Plus, I'm guaranteed that they will eat all their food without any argument.
My Monthly Meal Plan

Once I've finished the month, I place them on my weekly wipeboard fridge magnets. I purchased them at Costco around the same time I started meal planning. I do this as I do a weekly shop. I tried to do all my shopping once a month, but ended up running to the store for something I forgot to pick up or to get fresh veggies/fruit or bread. However, since I have the month planned if I notice a great sale on something for two weeks away, I'll pick it up.

My Weekly Wipe-board Fridge Magnet

Lately, I've started to even plan our weekly breakfast and lunch menus. Not because I want to be that organized, but it has cut down on the arguments about eating around here. My middleman usually just wants nutella and toast or poptarts for breakfast. By meal planning breakfast, I can get the food to the table before he realizes what he wants. This allows mom to get some variety and healthier choices into him.

If you don't meal plan, you should try it out. Do one week. If you want someone else to do it. Google menu planning. There are actually sites where you pay them and they'll send you a meal plan and recipies. Experiment. Get together with friends. Go to your library and check out new cook books. Let me know how it goes and how it works for you.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post. I have been attempting to do this for the past year and have really been convicted by the Lord to get myself together. My children are older, but I guess better late than never! Thanks again and many blessings.

Angel said...

I have been meal planning for about 10 years!! I have to say though when I get busy and need the plan the most, that is usually the time I don't do one and pay for it, LOL

Great post!!
Love and Blessings to you

Shawntele said...

Informative post, thanks! I am going to check out Dinner Rush; I have not been enjoying Food Network much since we moved back home...what other shows do you like?

Anonymous said...

Hey - I am certainly happy to discover this. cool job!

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Alberta, Canada
I'm a 39 year old (oh yeah I'm telling you my age) Stay at Home mom. A former Bad Girl now reformed sinner, I'm married to my Y2K guy and raising 3 great children from God. Proudly Canadian, however, missing the West Coast, I currently live in the prairies watching the farmers fields produce as I learn how God produces the fruits in me.

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