Since becoming a mother, I have noticed that my menu-planning has taken a backseat to silly things like keeping the children alive and (relatively) clean. I didn’t think it was really that big of a problem, but it is. My grocery budget is creeping up. I’m getting flustered some nights and not even cooking dinner. I’m also wasting food because I have not been planning properly. (Horrible stewardship on my part.)
This needs to change.
Advent is a time of preparation, so I’m going to prepare.
Part of my problem has always been that I want to make meals that will make my husband (and our kids, but they’ll eat anything) happy. He’s a little picky and often wishy-washy when it comes to menu planning. He’ll say he doesn’t know or that he doesn’t care, and then when I finally get something made, I can tell it isn’t what he wanted. Sigh.
So I enlisted his help.
I made him sit down and help me come up with a list of things he would be willing to eat once a month. It took awhile, but he did it. We came up with twenty four.
I then categorized the menu:
We termed four of the items “wild cards.” Wild cards are things that I have on hand at any time. I decided these were great for nights when my husband didn’t know how late he would be working (we have a night like that at least once a week). I then sorted the remaining twenty items into weeks. Five meals per week, with a night off for a wild card, and a night off for date night. Easy peasy.
If your house is anything like mine, making dinner is kind of crazy.
The kids are not their best selves in the time between the end of nap and the beginning of dinner, so a hands-off approach is kind of necessary.
I have realized that I can do a lot of the prep work in advance. It is just as easy to make multiple portions of a protein as it is to make one, so prep work can be combined over multiple meals to minimize the work. When sorting into weeks, I thought about how to best divide the work. For example, bacon from breakfast can easily be incorporated into carbonara. A beef roast on Sunday can easily be beef and noodles on Wednesday. Diced chicken, used in several recipes, can be made in a big batch.
Stay tuned for week 1, with recipes and a shopping list. I hope my prep can save you some time!