Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Confession and a Plea

Okay. Here is something silly, but it is what I believe will probably be revealed - in time, once I've gotten a handle on it and gotten a system going - to be my single greatest "practical failure" as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom. Not having a handle on this area causes large amounts of stress in me and causes my family to spend large amounts of money it doesn't have to spare.

What is it? ...the lack of an organized, well-thought out, planned-for-and-scheduled menu strategy for any given day before that day is underway.

Literally, I am usually deciding what to make for any given meal somewhere between an hour before and an hour after that meal needs to be served!

I am so organized in many areas, but getting a meal plan together for a week's worth of meals just isn't happening. It has never been happening. For whatever reasons, I simply have not been able to pull it off, despite several unsuccessful attempts.

Sometimes I find myself pulling frozen meat out of the freezer on the afternoon of the hoped-for dinner, defrosting in the microwave or a sinkful of warm water. Sometimes I find myself serving the same things week after week, just because they're easy at the last minute and my family likes them. Sometimes I find myself grabbing fast food or some other unhealthy option just because it is dinner time, and I can't even pull off one of the last minute things before my family goes berserk. Even fast food, however, is exorbitantly expensive when there are six of you! And even if it weren't, there is not money for eating out on a regular basis in our family's financial picture. It is the single greatest saboteur of our very tight budget, and there is simply no room for it as a consistent "bail out" option because of my lack of planning.

So, please! Those of you who have this under control, please help me! How do you do it? When? What? I need practical and specific advice here... HELP!


David and Joanna said...

I plan on Sunday afternoons for the week before I go grocery shopping on Mon. I try to look at our schedule and if I know that it's going to be a crazy day, then I try to opt for something easy like a crock pot meal that I prepare in the morning during breakfast, or a frozen option like chicken sticks etc. I don't necessarily plan each day ahead of time, but I do have 6-7 meals that I purchase and I try to make sure that there are several easy and several involved ones so I can change them out on whatever day works best. I LOVE meal planning and making food so if I can be of help, please let me know. I hope this encourages and not discourages. Also, I'd be happy to share some recipes that have worked well for us.
Joanna Euans

Chris said...
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iivo said...

How about donuts? I hear they're easy.

Gloria said...

First I have to laugh that Rachel and I are in the same boat...we sit among our chaos and proudly hold up our detailed menu plan as our redeeming accomplishment! We have gracious husbands who don't mind (or see!) clutter. Of course your plan has to be what works for your family, but I will share the gist of what I do. First of all, the main plan must filled mostly with simple meals, with the simplest ones falling on nights with activities. Anything that takes longer to fix I try to save for a weekend. My favorite tool is a cheap 5x7 photo album that I have filled with index cards holding my weekly plans and corresponding grocery lists, facing each other. I keep a dry-erase marker clipped to it to mark off as I go through the store. I have a separate page for staples and toiletries that I look at every week. Then when I get home, I can wipe off the marks and move my clip to the next week. I can also pull out the index card for the week and post it on the fridge, which is helpful to glance at and could also serve as a reminder to move something from the freezer to the fridge for the next day.
Don’t worry too much about repetition. Studies have shown that we tend to use the same 15-20 meals without even trying to, so a three week rotation probably works well for most people. You can stretch to a month if you want. I’ll add a sticky note to my page if I need to make a special meal.

On the subject of the emergency back-up plan: I always have a can of refried beans, a can of corn, and a jar of salsa. You can do a lot with those in a pinch, even if you only have time to mix some together in a pot and serve with veggies and chips!