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Menu Planning 101

“Dinner’s ready!” That’s music to my ears. Not only does it signal the coming end of the day, but it’s our time to be together, share about our day and relax. Unfortunately, when I don’t have a plan for dinner the only sounds to be heard are the open and shutting of cabinet doors, “what’s for dinner?!, the fridge door closing, is dinner ready, I’m hungry and the doorbell It’s pizza delivery guy. It’s O.K. to order pizza and go out to eat but in order to be good stewards of our time and not provoke ourselves and others in our family to sin we must have a plan. There are many ways to accomplish this. I will share with you what works for us and some resources you might find helpful for your family. 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for thiey shall be filled. Matt. 5:6.  My verse for the day as I searched for menu planning help. I was “hungry and thirsty” for His righteousness in our home. My kids and hubby were literally hungryJ. Praise the Lord for all the Godly women online and for google. Most everything I have learned from other seasoned homemakers, books and websites. If I have the links or resources where I found the information in my notes I will add them.

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  Menu Planning is having written down what you will eat during the coming week with a corresponding grocery list. 

Challenges In The Kitchen:

  •  Having many activities outside the home, especially those conficting with dinner time.        
  • One income, one family vehicle requires a plan and budget
  •  Nutrition goes out the door without a plan    
  • Wasted time, more grocery runs    
  • Stress        
  • Budget buster: eating out    
  • Picky Eaters

Solution:

Menu Planning        

  • Use a planner. I use a binder zipper type planner and have customized the pages for our family       
  • Make a master meal list of family favorites, recipes to try. Use a sheet of paper per category; breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, desserts.        
  • Pick a day to plan. Sunday works best for me because I plan my homeschool lessons that day and hubby is around to help with the kids       
  • Plan around scheduled activities, appts., holidays, etc.
  • Start by looking at your cupboards, fridge and freezer to see if you already have items that can make a meal (one less day to shop for)         

TIPS:·        

  • Use sale flyers, cookbooks and recipe websites to get ideas. 
  • Involve the kids! www.familyfun.com has great newsletters you can sign up for to receive kid friendly recipes every week. Have the kids pick a dish to try. Cook together. It’s fun fosters togetherness and gives them a sense of accomplishment and worth within the family. It is an invaluable way to teach servanthood. Our kids started by learning to boil eggs, scramble eggs, make each other sandwiches.      
  • Make it fun! Play fun music, wear homemade aprons, and name signature family member dishes. My youngest son Zachary’s eggs are called Zegg’s, my oldest and proud to be tall teen Mikael calls his homemade bread Mike’s Tall Bread. For some reason his loaves always come out taller than mine. Anything I make usually gets a fast food name like Egg McMommies, or Mommy Bell. Have fun with it. We once had “worms and eyeballs” (spaghetti and meatballs) for dinner made by our scouts in our backyard fire pit for a merit badge. Have a picnic dinner and movie on the living room floor. Make you own pizza night. Or how about highlighting a country or region you are studying by cooking a typical dish form that country. My kids favorite is having breakfast for dinner, pancakes of course.        
  • FOLLOW THE PLAN! Of course you can alternate days is you rather make Thursday’s meal on Monday. The point is you have a plan and the needed staples for 7 days.        
  • DON’T FORGET THE SHOPPING LIST! I do this all the time. I perforate my planner pages. But you can use a scissor just fine. (Example of my planner pages to come)        
  • Buy store Brand    
  • Shop Thrift Bakeries. Check your yellow pages under bakeries or thrift. Thrift bakeries offer whole grain breads, Thomas’ bagels, Thomas’ english muffins, Boboli pizza crust (whole wheat) etc., so I don’t have to feel guilty about not baking. Most items are $1!!
    Here are two I frequent:      

      Entemann’s Thrift Bakery
      Oxford Square Shopping Center
      9418 Seminole Boulevard
      Seminole, FL 33772

      Flowers Thrift Bakery

8989 66th St N.

Pinellas Park, Fl

 On Wednesday ALL bread is .69 cents. I have bought
there Nature’s Own brand Organic whole wheat bread!! I love it!! This is
also great for parties when you need alot of of hot dog an hamburger buns.
         

  • Cook With a friend. Have a “Cook once a month party”  or “Freezer Fellowship”. Or just find a friend that is willing to swap night with your family. You cook one day a week for them and they cook one a day a week for you. You could try this every other week or once a month. Why not throw in some babysitting while your at it. Dates with our husbands help revitalize us to face the coming week too.        
  • Cook in Batches. Bake (or buy rotisierre ready cooked) one or two chickens at a time shred meat and store in ziplocks for 2-4 dishes for later that week. You can do the same with ground meat (we use turkey). Either when you get it home or when you thaw it out for a meal, cook it all and ziplock it. I will give recipes that will aid in using all these ziplocks on my recipe post later. Don’t forget to label your ziplocks. And whenever freezing sauces or anything for that matter freeze it flat Once frozen you can stack them or stand them up in the freezer for more room. Or just freeze a meal you doubled the amount and bless a friend that is having a bad week.        
  • Bring trail mix, granola bars, pretzels, cherrios, or shredded wheat in a ziplock when you bring the kids shopping with you. It cuts down the gimmes and saves you from the chocolate bar impulse buy at the register.       
  •  Plan meals that use whole grains, like whole wheat pasta and brown rice. These are more nutritious, and are more filling. If your family is not accustomed to the taste try combining half white rice and half brown rice. Before you know it they will be eating just brown.       
  • Use smaller amounts of meat, fish, poultry and eggs. These are higher cost items and we could all use portion control.      
  • Use coupons whenever possible.      
  • THE CROCKPOT IS MY FRIEND! At least once a week plan on using a crockpot. This cooks large batches making it easy to save leftovers for a rainy day. With church meetings, game nights, scouts, etc., you too will say “The Crockpot is my friend.” 

It may be overwhelming when you embark on this journey. Give yourself time to be established in the goals you have for family. Remember kids aren’t the only ones that get “do-overs” 

Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:20-21

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October 22, 2007 - Posted by | In The Kitchen

1 Comment »

  1. I LOVE your blog and the menu planning follow up! You should send the link to the My-ppea yahoo group!

    Mary

    Comment by Mary | October 27, 2007 | Reply


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