Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Menu Planning Saves my Sanity ... well a bit of it!


For quite a while there I produced a monthly menu plan but I stopped doing it over summer whilst on our school break and just haven't bothered starting it again this year. "Big mistake! Big! Huge!" Yes I get mistaken for Julia Roberts a lot, it's that short, dumpy, blonde thing I have going on. I found last term a real struggle meal wise and we ate quite a few fast food meals (by our standards as we live in the sticks and any take aways are MILES away) because I wasn't at all prepared, therefore we have been eating far less healthily and spending way more than we need to also. Hello, whatever happened to Fish and Chips being a cheap family takeaway, or is that a dream I once had?

Although as a rule I enjoy cooking, coming up with an idea at the last minute drives me to despair. If you ask anyone here it's "I dunno" or something so ridiculous I end up just rolling my eyes in the back of my head and stomping off into the kitchen to open every pantry, fridge and freezer door in the hopes that inspiration jumps out at me!

So I have decided it is imperative that our family goes back to Menu planning, for like my sanity people.

When I menu plan I like to do it for a whole month at a time, cause I am special like that. Some people have asked me why I do it monthly and the main reason is that we have a mad, crazy schedule so it saves loads of time to do it just once a month rather than week by week. I also live in a rural town that doesn't have a large supermarket so it helps if I can cut down on trips to a nearby town, or at least just pop in quickly for a few of the essentials rather than do a big shop every week. Also I can look out for specials if I am aware of things I am after ahead of time.

It is not always quick and easy to plan our menus, as the Papa works shift work and I have to take his hours into consideration. I try to plan things, that he doesn't like as much, but the girls and I do, to have when he isn't around and of course food he loves (PIZZA, pizza and oh yeah pizza) on one of those nights he's home. It also means I can't always follow the previous years plan for the same month but generally I try and use that one to start with.

I have a few themes that I also follow which makes planning easier.  i.e. Meatless Mondays, Slow Cooker Thursdays (we get back late from dance classes so it's nice to come in to something ready), Fast food Fridays (it's homemade fast food),Saturday roasts and Simple Sundays where we often have leftovers or a toasted sandwich or soup but I do plan a yummy dessert to make up for it. If anyone is desperate for dessert any other night they are welcome to have some ice cream or fruit otherwise I only plan dessert for Sundays.

I also make a cooked breakfast on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. We aren't big cereal fans and I also find it is often cheaper to have a cook breakfast what with the price of cereal these days. So I plan cooked breakfasts for those days and everyone looks forward to them, except for me who'd prefer to be in bed with her head under the pillow drawing out those last few minutes of peace and quiet.

And as we homeschool, we eat at home most days, so I usually plan a few different things to have during the week. i.e., soup, wraps, etc to keep the menu interesting. I know great mum aren't I ... actually it's simply to stop us ALL whining that we are "bored" with sandwiches again.

Lastly I try and add some weekly baking as we all prefer home baking to any store bought. Did anyone else pick up on the "try" in that sentence.

Of course if I need or want to detour from the menu, then I do, it is not cast in stone (despite what my family thinks!) but it really does take some pressure off this Mama's shoulders.

I'd love to share my spreadsheet with you,  it's nothing fancy but who knows maybe there will be some new meal ideas for you to try, but I am clueless on how to do it. If  anyone knows how to, and wants me to then please let me know.

Happy planning.


  1. I "try" to do menu planning once a week - a month ahead is too daunting for me! In fact, one a week gets a bit much too, but I agree - it's more stressful at 5pm asking "what's for dinner?"

    1. If you put your weekly menus onto a spreadsheet (either before or even after) and you save them in monthly lots in 12 months (am assuming you plan according to seasons a bit) you will have them all ready to use on a monthly basis. ;)

  2. Lisa, I need to rethink our meals. Cooking isn't a problem as the girls all take turns. They love getting in the kitchen. But we need to try some different recipes, have more variety. I love your theme days! I might have to try that!

    1. I do not like eating the same thing over and over again. I make sure there are no repeats in the same month. We can't even have eye fillet steak and rump steak in the same month. Mince is OK as I can burger it, meatloaf it or bolgnese it etc. It just has to be made up in a totally different way each time. I have trouble with left-overs too, unless they are remade into something totally new too. The Papa thinks I am wierd but I just can't help it.

      I also have the girls pick a meal to add to the menu and make it, usually it's more lunch than dinner though due to a lack of time at night, unless it's Sunday night where we just have "whatever" and so they will often get in there and make us a "veritable delight" of sorts ... ;)


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