We all know the key to getting dinner on the table every night is making sure you do your menu planning each and every week. Not knowing what’s for dinner night will not only kill your budget from eating out too much, but it will put undue stress on you and make you crazy!
There is trick to menu planning and I want to share a little bit what I do each week so you can do it too and make it easier on yourself! Menu planning doesn’t require a day off and stacks of cookbooks and magazines to figure out what’s for dinner. I think in our perfectionism, we’d like to think we can do it just like they do it on the Food Network, but the reality is you probably are running to sports for pick up at 8:00 at night, you’re helping another kid with homework and your husband actually wants to spend a minute with you before you start all over the next day. Menu planning will save you from having to try and juggle too many balls in the air at one time and will be one less thing to worry about come crunch time.
The deal is, cooking is part fun and part chore, can I hear an amen? It’s fun when it’s something you want to do, but it can be a chore day in and day out. I remember one time we had a call on the FLY Show and some poor flybaby said she would rather clean toilets than cook dinner! Well, I can’t change your attitude (that’s an inside job that only you can handle) but I can make it a whole lot less of a chore and that’s where the menu planning comes in.
First things first and that is MAKE IT EASY. One night a week at least is probably tough at your house. Those are the nights that you just need to pull out Old Faithful (your crock pot) and let him do his thing while you get on with your day. When everyone comes home, you can gather `round and get dinner on the table pronto. I can’t tell you how many times my crockpot has saved my franny from the drive thru!
Second, use easy ingredients. If you’re boning chickens, cutting up meat and washing heads of lettuce and all that, stop! You can buy food pretty much ready to go these days and if you’re good shopper, you stock up on this stuff when it’s on sale. Buy one/get one free sales are exactly the way to make sure you never buy boneless skinless chicken breasts at retail prices again. This is how even the toughest budgets can stretch to buy timesaving convenience.
Third, keep it healthy. You need a lean protein (we all know what that looks like), we need vegetables and lots of them (I try to have one cooked veggie and nice big salad with lots of stuff in it), and a complex carb (brown rice is good example).
Fourth, write out your plan. You have to do this! Post it on the fridge then everyone knows what’s for dinner. The guess work is gone and the comfort of knowing that something will be appearing at the appointed hour makes your family happy. So make that plan and post it.
And lastly, make sure you have your ingredients! Don’t forget to keep your shopping list ongoing. I keep a shopping list on my computer and add to it as necessary (I keep a magnetized dry erase type board on my fridge, hiding the pen in a drawer, to write down stuff as I run out so I don’t forget). I can remove the list from the fridge if it gets too long, bring it to the computer and add those things as necessary. Print out my list and off I go to the grocery store!
Menu planning is easy when you take perfectionism out of the loop and make getting dinner on the table the goal. You can do this!