Menu Planning: Why and How

First off, let’s tackle the why part of menu planning:

First of all, eating a home-cooked, nutritious meal with my family most nights is a priority for our family. When we started our family, my husband and I decided that for us, eating at home, all together, around the table, without distractions, most nights of the week, was important to us.  This was much easier when we had fewer kids and homework and extra-curricular activities weren’t a factor. But as the kids have multiplied and have gotten older and busier, this is no less of a priority.  We fight for dinner, and will continue to do so. We are intentional about the activities our kids participate in, as well as the scheduling of those activities around the dinner hour.  This is a sacred time for us, and we protect it. If I didn’t plan my menu ahead, taking into account our schedules for each day, the dinner hour could be lost to indecision about what to cook, not having the right ingredients, and/or frustrated runs through a drive-through.

Second, I love to cook.  I love chopping vegetables (weird, I know), browning things in a pan, stirring large pots of soup.  Yum.  Love it.  Taking into account my family’s schedule and planning ahead helps me know which evenings I can try something new or cook something more complicated, and when I need to throw something in the slow-cooker so that I can have my evening free to act as chauffeur or help with homework.

Third, I hate wasting food.  I spent too many years buying ingredients that sounded good when I saw them in the store, only to have them rot at home because I didn’t have a plan for how to use them. Wasting food is like throwing money in the trash (just ask my kids……I say that to them many, many, many times each week).

Fourth, and this goes along with my third reason, it saves money.  If I’ve planned ahead, I only buy what I need, and I need everything I buy.  My grocery lists are well thought out and very specific.  I tend to shop once every week or so, and very little goes to waste because it all fits into my menu plans.

Finally, I plan because I’m a planner.  I like to plan things, to know when things are going to happen, to not be caught with my pants down so to speak.  I like that when I get up each morning I know what I’m cooking for dinner, that there is one less decision I have to make that day.  If I had to make that decision at 5pm when all heck is breaking loose around here, we’d be eating grilled cheese or ordering pizza every night.  Not ideal for our health or bank accounts.

Whew, that was a lot of words…..I think we’ll tackle the how part of menu planning in another post.

What about you?  Do you menu plan?  Why or why not?

2 thoughts on “Menu Planning: Why and How”

  • I never intentionally “planned” before, it just sort of happened by default. I have dietary issues, picky-ness, and sensory obstacles to deal with. I am not a fan of cooking, so I would just find something everyone would/could eat and buy the exact same thing every week. To say we were in a rut is an understatement. Chicken and potatoes, spaghetti, tacos, another variation of chicken and potatoes, tilapia, Brats and tots (eggs for the boy), all served with spinach salad pretty much sums up our week. On the weekends I let Tony go crazy with the grilling pork products, for which he buys his own ingredients if we don’t have them. I am just not creative, or wild about the risk that I will go to the trouble, and everyone is “full” after three bites. I take it as a personal rejection. I am getting better at it though. Your posts are all very encouraging and inspiring.

    • Another reason I plan is to break up the monotony. For us it was pasta dish, tacos, chili, tacos, breakfast for dinner, repeat, repeat, repeat. I totally get the personal rejection…..happens a lot here. I try not to get my feelings all wrapped up in it, but it’s hard. I don’t remember giving my mom a hard time like I get from my kids, but who knows. It’s hard to beat taco noodle casserole! At least Cass always likes what I cook…he’s easy to please when it comes to food.

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