The other week at a girls’ night, a friend asked an innocuous question: Do you still menu plan? The answer was yes, but…
In my explanation, I realized I still planned a weekly menu, meaning I selected a handful of recipes, scribbled them on a scrap piece of paper and made sure I had the groceries to make them. But I had fallen away from a more intentional pattern I used to practice with consistency. That menu planning assigned a specific meal to a specific day. It also had at least 4 – 5 planned “other” items. My other items are either specifically helpful with breakfast or packed lunches (i.e. getting four people out the door going in four different directions), or grab-and-go items that make life smoother when running to soccer practice, needing a small snack to hold us over because catching the sunset is a must, or bites to stuff in a backpack so we can otherwise spend more quality time outside. It may seem inconsequential, but that routine also includes a nicely printed menu hung on the refrigerator, so everyone in the family knows what’s coming up.
When I got home from that girls’ night, I decided to return to my old pattern to see if the additional structure was worth it. Indeed it was! We had homemade dinner as a family every single night that week, and I could tell any after work stress was alleviated simply by not having a choice to make. Assigning a meal to a day also meant I could do prep the evening before, knowing I’d use it the next day. And the legibly written menu on the side of the fridge gave me a small sense of affirmation when I walked by. Feeding people I care about is something I value highly, and feeling prepared for the full week is a worthy accomplishment for me.
I LOVE getting a sense of how dinner time works in other families, and thought perhaps you’d feel the same. Listed below is the exact menu we followed for a week (in this case, Saturday – Friday, with a few other notes you may find helpful). You’ll note some of the recipes are mine, and some come from other sources I’ve linked to. I tend to adapt the majority of recipes I use, so I’ve commented on that where applicable. Also, as I mentioned in a recent post, we are mostly vegetarian eaters, with meat once or twice a week. Both kids (ages 2 and just-turned 11) ate exactly what was on the menu, but sometimes deconstructed, also explained below.