Ladies, I need any help and/or ideas you can offer me about menu planning and making myself stick to the menu. I would also love to know about any crockpot meals. Thanks
Did you see this link? http://simplycharlottemason.com/scmforum/topic/any-one-know-of-a-good-source-for-real-food-crockpot-recipes. I copied the Passionate Homemaking one. Many of them sound yummy (and healthy/simple).
Menu planning…ugh. It’s wonderful when I do it…but I’m not good at consistency. When I DO it, what works for me is I have Amy Knapp’s organizer for moms (paper, not online). She has a tear-off section every week for groceries and a blank spot by every day specifically for meal planning. I jot groceries as needed and in the meal planning section I plan out my meals and also write down meats I need to thaw a few days before needed. This works when I do it…the tricky part:( Hopefully others will chime in! Blessings, Gina
One thing that has helped me with menu planning is to assign a “theme” to each day of the week. For example, for us they are:
Tuesday: Soup (or in the summer Sandwich/Salad)
Wednesday: Stir Fry
Thursday: Pasta or Casserole
Friday: Fun (Pizza, Hamburgers, Taco Chips, etc)
Saturday: Meatless or Easy/Leftovers
Sunday: Do-Ahead or Crockpot or Go Out
Obviously, you can change those up to fit how your family eats, but that’s an example for you. I don’t always stick exactly to those (I may switch things around during the week depending on what we have going on), but it helps to ensure that we get variety in our diet, and also helps me to keep things organized to make the planning process easier.
Then, I went through all the recipes I like to make and made a sort of index of recipes according to those categories. So, I have a sheet that lists all of the meatless recipes we like, all the soups, all the stir-fries, etc. Also, when I stumble across a new recipe I want to try, I jot it down on the appropriate list also so I remember to plug those into our rotation at some point.
I make a menu plan for 2 weeks at at time, some people do it for more, but the father out I plan for the harder I find it to adjust for contigencies. I made a little chart that has spaces to fill in 2 weeks worth of dinners and sections along the side for Breakfast Ideas, Lunch Ideas, Snack Ideas, and Things to Use Up. I’d be happy to send it to you (or anyone else) if you PM me your email address.
I just asked about new crockpot meals the other day, so you might find some good ideas on this thread: http://simplycharlottemason.com/scmforum/topic/any-one-know-of-a-good-source-for-real-food-crockpot-recipes.
Jenn, how do you plan your snacks? Do you put little portions in snack bags and then give the kids those?
No, I’m not quite that organized. =) But we do have several choices that we usually keep on hand – goldfish, trail mix, baby carrots, and string cheese are sort of our ‘standards’ so when they start asking I can easily say “we have ___ or ___, what would you like?” I do list them out on my little chart so I can see what we do have available at any given time. We did use snack bags prepacked like that duirng an extended car trip we took this summer and that worked great….when we’re at home, however, it’s easier for me to put a handful of whatever into a little bowl for them when they ask rather than try to keep little baggies loaded all the time.
I have been using Plan To Eat for a couple of months. I am enjoying it but I’m still trying to make it a habit. I love that I can import recipes and print shopping lists.
Actually, I am working on a menu planning series for my blog to start this week. I will be talking about a few different methods and some tips to keep you on track. http://blessedrootsblog.wordpress.com
Also, I think Kim Brennaman from Large Family Logistics has some wonderful real food crock pot recipes. http://largefamilylogistics.blogspot.com Check her left hand sidebar for Quick Homeschool Lunches and Crock Pot Lunches.
Meal planning has made feeding my family (5 kids, 8 years and younger and a husband with an unpredictable work schedule) so much easier – I strongly encourage you to find something that works for you!
I’m using the new meal planning function on Cozi (the online organizer). I like how easy it is to just drag and drop the meals from the recipe list and from day to day. So if one day doesn’t go as I planned, it’s simple to just move it to another day. Since I already use Cozi to keep track of my life, it all works together.
I have used PlantoEat for the past 8 months or so and it is a good program as well. It is very easy to import and organize new recipes. I’m not going to renew my subscription, though, since Cozi is free and combines everything (calendar, to do lists, journal, meal planner).
Ladies, thank you so much. I will be sitting down this week and looking at everything and working on my meal plan. I’m hoping to do two weeks at a time, because i’d like the least amout of grocery store trips and because dh gets paid bi-weekly.
I don’t use a website, but I do plan depending on my season of life, it’s either one week at a time (this is my least fav. but with winter/self-employeed dh this is the only way I can be sure of how much I can spend), bi-weekly or monthly. Monthly is my favorite.
Either way I 1st look at what I will have left from the week and try to make a few things that will use those ingredients, you know having one extra tomato, or a can of coconut milk, will help me figure out a meal or two.
Also, I like others so a meat-less night, a chicken, a turkey, a burger and a soup in the winter, and a fish (good oils:0>).
then I go through what we have been eating and make a list of say 5 of the favorites of each and then add maybe 5 more if I want to try something new (this is so helpfull if you do monthly charting). then I put things together that will help use eachother up. Cause it’s cheaper to buy a large can of diced tom’s for a week then 2 smaller ones for 2 seperate weeks. Doest that make sense?
I think about dh’s lunch, our lunch (which is 90% leftovers from the night before as I always add at least another 1/2 to so it will have leftovers), snacks and company or being out which I need to bring something (we hate and only when totally necessary eat out).
Then I have a grocery list. It has sections per my grocery store: nuts/chips/bread, dairy, meat, produce, freezer, household goods, co-op, and pantry. That way it makes it easier when I am at the grocery store and I don’t (most the time) end up running all the way back to get an item I forgot.
I am very organized and this saves a lot of time. Also, the older boys can help check things off cause I can say “ok what do we need for meat” and then they can just look at the section.
Let me know if you need other help. I love this stuff. My friends say I should run a business doing things like this! I love charts, and organizing. Misty
I don’t use any type of meal-planning site; I just go for it! I have written a couple of blog posts on my own blog that you might find helpful. Not to promote myself at all, these were just handy for me to add here:
I hope you find these helpful! You’ve gotten lots of other great ideas too!
Des, I also do like Jen and apply my meals accordingly with themes. Mondays are chicken dishes, Tuesdays are fish, etc. My menu is by month, so each menu item is made only once a month. (if I feel creative I will deviate, but usually this is my “go- to” plan)
For actual shopping, I have a list of stores that I go to only once a month to stock up for the month’s items. I also do Amazon’s Subscribe and Save for many items. I LOVE it because it saves me time, I can have it delivered to my door for free, and the deliveries can be automated to once a month, or every other month, or whatever you need. I buy my toiletries and a few food items from there.
I can’t describe the feeling of having meals planned and my brain is free from worry. The planning part was long, but now I’m reaping the benefits of it! You won’t regret going to the trouble of laying it all out.
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