We have a running list of easy meals and a list surefire of meals that everyone likes. This makes filling out the menu a little easier. It also helps for days we have things schedule, like during softball season. On those nights I am either flying solo or it is better to have a lighter meal, so easy meals are the go to.
I like to try out new stuff sometimes, so I look to friends and families for their great recipe ideas, check out Pinterest, or pull out a cookbook. The things we like go on to our surefire list.
Now, just because I have the week meal plan written out, it doesn't mean that it has to stay on those days. Things can, and do get switched around depending on the day, the mood, or whatever life factors show up.
The time it doesn't change is when we have fresh meat that we are planning on using or fresh produce. Also, epically during the warmer months, we grill out more on the weekend we grocery shop. So I tend to try to maximize those cooking days and double up on the meat and use the extra in a different way later in the week.
I also leave room for leftovers. Not just for dinner another time during the week, but also for at least one lunch time for my hubby.
I have also started doing whatever prep I can for those two weeks ahead of time. That may mean the day before or it mean cooking part of it up ahead of time and freezing it. I have also, when there is too much of a meal leftover, frozen part of it for another time in the month.
We plan out for cooked meals at home, but then if we decide to go out for dinner, than the planned meal idea gets moved to another day or a different week.
I also have extra eggs, hot dogs, tortilla shells, cheese, noodles, ingredients to make pancakes or waffles, and other similar ideas on hand always. Because sometimes the best intentions, just need a little wiggle room or grace if the recipe is a total flop. Then there are those days when a bowl of cereal or oatmeal seem like a much better idea than what may have been planned.
My best advice would be:
- To plan out ahead of time. Whether for the week, two weeks, or the whole month. Plan out for what works best with your family and schedule. Planning it out also helps a lot with grocery shopping and making budgeting easier.
- Do any prep you can ahead of time. Especially with kiddos, come dinner time things seem to go into overdrive very quickly. So, by putting part of it together when there is down time can make that dinner hour go more smoothly.
- Get the whole family involved. Not just in picking out meal ideas, but cooking too. It may take longer, but it will create memories, the kiddos will learn to cook, and also (hopefully) take pride in creating it and more likely eat it.
- Don't be afraid to try new stuff out, step outside the box, or keep it simple.
- Have fun with it!
You can get a copy of the blank menu plan that I use by clicking here.