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Menu Planning For The Whole Family

Not being a natural cook, I have to stay organized or most of our meals would consist of frozen corn dogs and ‘Nilla Wafers. By teaching myself to make a plan, make a list and write it all down I do much better in the dinner department.

Having several kids that are old enough to cook, you can bet I get them in on the work. I assigned them each a morning to make breakfast and night to cook dinner and they decide what they want to prepare. On Sunday they each give me a list of what they need for their meals. I have veto power, of course. Sometimes I change their plan, especially when their meal includes ingredients that cost more than our monthly budget.

Once I have their list, I figure out what we need for the rest of the week and head to the store. I do NOT let myself buy anything that is not on my list. Just making that rule for myself has saved me a lot of money, especially considering my weakness for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. If they are not on the list then I can’t buy them (Sometimes I put them on the list; I’m not a martyr).

Once I get home with the groceries, I write out the menu while the kids put everything away. I found a magnetic calendar that I keep on the fridge with the menu for the week. The one I use is not available anymore, but there are several on Amazon that would work just the same, or you can simply use paper. I write the whole week of meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, on the board.

With the menu on the fridge and the ingredients in the pantry, we all know what to expect. Anyone can look at the list to see what we are having any given meal. Another benefit, if Mommy sleeps late or is busy reading blogs the kids can just look at the menu and make their own breakfast….not that I would ever do that, but you know….other people might have that problem.

This simple system has saved me time, money and the headache of stopping at 5:00 and trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Each morning I look at the list and do the dinner prep in advance. If there’s soup for dinner, I can chop the onions during the day. I can toss bread in the bread machine or mix up the dry ingredients for cornbread any time.

I have a few helpers (besides my children) that keep the work load light. My rice steamer is a lifesaver. I can toss brown rice in the steamer in the morning and it stays hot until we eat it that night. My bread machine makes whole wheat bread, which is helpful when I haven’t had time to bake. I love my blender wand for making soups. If you could only start with one of these…I’d say get a steamer. You can get one at Target for less than $30 and it will change your life.

To sum up: meal plan (let the kids plan one meal), list, shopping, menu on the fridge. So, so, so easy. If I can make it work, believe me….anyone can!

Thank You, Lisa! 
 I love how you get your kids involved.  I was just thinking this week about how old my girls are getting and how important it is that I teach them how to cook!  I think the best way is to have them do it themselves on a regular basis, your post confirmed my thoughts.  

For More of Lisa please visit her blog, The Pennington Point.  You won’t regret it.  I especially love her home decor, she is bold but tasteful, and so homey.  Isn’t that piano to die for?  Yes, she is bold enough to paint her piano blue, and I LOVE IT!

THE PENNINGTON POINT–The experiences of mothering a large family on a budget, keeping a lovely home and training children Biblically
Lisa’s Etsy Shop— Personalized with a fresh perspective

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  • Sara
    February 9, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I never thought I needed a rice cooker/steamer thingy. I’ll have to rethink that one…

    I’ve got my oldest (13 yo boy) making (and cleaning up) dinner on most nights. He’s now venturing into planning the menus himself too. This is taking a lot more work as we learn about proper nutrition and that pizza or hot dogs isn’t a balanced meal all by itself…

  • Heather
    February 4, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    We use E-Mealz and absolutely love it. For $1.25 a week for them to plan my meal & save me money at the grocery store, it’s WELL worth it for this girl & her husband who are short on time. 🙂

  • Cottage Dreamers
    February 4, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Lisa, I envy your organizational skills but with a growing family I’m learning! I’ll have to look into getting a steamer because so often we’re waiting on the brown rice to finish cooking before we can eat since I forget about getting it started before everything else in the meal. (It takes so long to cook!)
    ☺ Celeste

  • Cyndi@Walking in His Grace
    February 4, 2011 at 3:30 am

    Lisa that was so good! I struggle with organizing my menus for the week. I spend way too much at the grocery store.
    Loved the post and loved the piano!!
    BLessings sweet friend,

  • Deanne
    February 3, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Great post Lisa!
    I get my kids to cook on certain days each week too!

  • Dani
    February 3, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    You are absolutely correct. Our rice cooker has completely changed my kitchen. I’m not sure how I lived so long without one! I can honestly say I use this daily whether it be for rice, oatmeal, vegetables, etc.

  • Kat
    February 3, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Great idea! I need to teach my self not to go of the list too! I am also starting to get my girls involved too. I just wish they weren’t such picky eaters.

  • The Pennington Point
    February 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Thanks Amy! It’s so much fun to see my silly picture over here at your place. Love to you! Lisa~

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