Sunday, January 1, 2012

Menu Plan for Jan 1-8

One of the best things I've done in my kitchen over the years is to meal plan!  Having a plan written down makes that "witching hour" of 4:30-6 pm go so much more smoothly.  Do we always follow the plan down to each detail?  No, not always.  Sometimes what I plan on Sunday to eat on Thursday isn't what I feel like fixing come Thursday.  Or we might have a change in plans that will not allow for me to make what's on the menu.  Or I might forget to get the meat out of the freezer in time to thaw.  But it's a start, and that's what matters most.  A plan is a very good thing to have! 

As the girls have grown, I've had to adapt the way that I cook.  While my meals have always been economical and easy to prepare, I've had to change how the meals get to the table for the dinner hour.  I thought mealtime would get easier once the girls got bigger and they weren't clamoring for my attention at the end of the day.  Turns out, they still need my attention, just in different ways.  Most days we're either coming home from various after school activities or getting ready to go out the door for activities right around the dinner hour, so my menus now contain lots of recipes that I can either fix totally ahead and just heat up at dinner time, cook slowly in the crockpot or oven to be eaten when we walk in the door, or be thrown together and cooked in less than 20 minutes. 

This school year with our hectic schedule of afterschool and evening activities, I've gone to a thematic type of meal planning.  I have fairly broad themes, but it seems to work for me.  I find it broad enough to still give us a lot of options but it helps me keep things simple.  Here's our current basic weekly plan:

Mondays - Crock Pot Meal or Soup
Tuesday - Oven Baked Comfort Food, One Dish Dinner, or Pasta Dish
Wednesday - Sandwich
Thursday - Kids' Pick or Family Favorite
Friday - Ethnic Dish, Pizza, or Fast Food At Home
Saturday - Grill or New Recipe
Sunday -Brunch, Simple Supper

So, when I sit down to menu plan, I take a look at our schedule and see what we've got going on.  Then I take inventory of our freezer and pantry and see what I can throw together with the fresh produce I have in the frig.  We have salad and fruit with nearly every meal although I don't always write that down in the plan unless it's something special (like a fruit salad or a new dressing recipe).  I try to vary the main dish so we're not eating the same thing day after day.  We usually have enough left over to send in John's lunch later in the week, or I'll make a big enough batch of something that I can put another meal's worth in the freezer to be used later on.  We have dessert nightly.  It's not always that exciting of a treat, usually ice cream or a treat from the kids' treat bags

Here's what I'll be fixing this week
Monday - Chicken, mushroom, barley soup, salad, rolls
Tuesday - Anniversary dinner out; kids will have nachos
Wednesday - Beef Brisket sandwiches, oven baked garlic fries, salad
Thursday - Ham slices, Cheesy broccoli and rice casserole, tossed salad
Friday - pizza, salad
Saturday - Salmon, Quinoa pilaf, peas with mushrooms, salad
Sunday - Blueberry baked oatmeal, ham slices

I'll post the recipes in a separate post.  I'm still figuring out how to get it all to link together!

I'm linking up to other meal planners on I'm An Organizing Junkie.  This is one of the blogs I regularly read.  She has a ton of great tips for running a well managed home. 

Have a great week! 

What's on your menu this week?

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