I suspect that most every mom has some housekeeping or parenting task that falls at the very bottom of their favorites list. For me, it's meal planning. For a long time I sat down every week and tried to dream up what exciting meals would bring the least amount of complaining from my hungry family. You see, they aren't particularly picky -- they just don't like having the same thing over and over. They groan if I serve the same meal, even a favorite meal, twice in the same month.
A few months ago, I finally figured out a meal planning system that has saved my sanity. It may have even made meal planning so easy for me that I don't dread it quite so much.
I started with a my calendar, my recipe book, and a stack of index cards.
When I looked at my calendar, I realized that I was most concerned with fitting meals into our schedule and not necessarily what specific foods we ate. For instance, I need a crockpot meal for Sunday lunch. It doesn't necessarily matter if it's chicken or beef or even vegetarian; we just need something that's ready when we get home from church.
I brainstormed the meal types I needed and wrote them down on separate index cards. I had a card for crockpot meals, ones good for our weekly potluck gathering, ones that can be reheated easily for the nights when we're all coming and going, ones that take a little bit more preparation time than others, and favorites that didn't fit into any particular category.
I then divided up all of our favorite recipes into six weekly menu plans. These weekly plans only included Sundays through Thursdays. Each week, I am free to choose either an old favorite or to something new on Friday and Saturday nights. My two flex-days in each weekly meal plan allow us to enjoy something especially complicated, to grilled something on lazy weekend days, or to try the latest meal idea I've seen on Pinterest.
While I was brainstorming favorite meals, I went ahead and made an index card of favorites that didn't make the rotating schedule. That makes it especially easy to figure out what we'll have on my flex days.
I hesitated to share my planning idea because I feared it wouldn't last. Now that we've been through it for a few months, I'm confident enough to recommend it to others. It's organized enough that I'm not starting from scratch every week and yet flexible enough that I can adjust to fit our crazy life.
I am linking this post with others that are Blogging through the Alphabet. Be sure to stop by to see what some of my other friends found to share about or, better yet, join us on our crazy journey through the alphabet.