Pre-planning your menu will do several things for you. It will force you to double check your calendar. It will force you to go through your pantry, fridge and freezer (helps keep things fresh). It will also force you to make a grocery list (which will help you stay in budget). Quick note about budgets, I know they are hard but we will discuss those another day.
This is where I start. I get paid every two weeks so typically that means 42 meals (3 meals per day for 14 days) need to be planned out. You guessed it, breakfast, lunch and dinner all need to be planned. So now that we have figured that out I check out what I have on hand. If I am lucky I have some things left from my last grocery shopping. I try to add one or two extra meals to my budget each week and/or bulk items.
Next I get out my calendar to see what is going on during those two weeks. What is my work schedule, what is on tap for the kids, what is on tap for Daddy aka Papa. That will also determine what gets made on what days.
By now I am using what limited “extra” brain power to see what I have on hand to make and write down those meal ideas. I have a habit of starting with dinner ideas. Now I take a piece of paper and divide it in thirds. One column I put the day of the week with the appropriate date on it. List what I know I have for dinner, list what would work on each particular night depending on our schedules. Now in the third column I start writing my shopping list.
The next thing I do during the school year is pull out the lunch calendar. Lunches are frequently left overs when school is out but in honor of going back to school I am going to add this tidbit. I ask the kids which days they are buying and which they are taking. From there we get down to the nitty gritty and figure out what they want for those days they are taking. I write these down on the calendar so that I know what they have planned (yes they some times change their minds, too bad it gets carved into stone). I make sure to add any extra items to the grocery list.
Next we look at breakfast, ours is usually pretty basic. I need to have pancakes on hand (make them and then freeze them for future use). Eggs, bread and/or biscuits, cereal and the like. Though honestly if there are “favorite” left overs they will get eaten for breakfast as well. Mac and cheese anyone? If I am running low on any necessaries they get added to the grocery list as well.
Ok, so dinners are on the calendar, lunches are on the calendar and breakfast is fly by the seat of our pants. It really all comes down to schedules. Are these plans written in stone no, except for planned school lunches, those are written in stone. Now you have not only planned out your menu for two weeks, you have a realistic working grocery list and perhaps a budget!
Light, Love and Peace!