Tuesday, February 22, 2011


One of the biggest changes that I've tried to make in regards to living intentionally is meal planning.  Cooking is not a favorite activity of mine.  Eating, yes.  Cooking, no.  However, I'm a mom, and it's a fact of life. The children around here seem to expect to be fed every.single.day!!  And it seems like 5 p.m. always just sneaks up on you out of nowhere.  Kids start whining, hubby calls to say he's on his way home, and my own stomach begins complaining, which usually makes me cranky.  And when it gets to that point, it's often too late.  If there's no plan in place, we're in bad shape.  That's when I hear the evil little voice saying, "Just order pizza...it's quicker, and easier..." or "Don't you have some Wendy's coupons laying around?  You wouldn't want them to expire..."  So, I have to be vigilant to keep that nasty little side of me at bay, and the best weapon against myself is...a menu.

Yes, it helps immensely to know by lunch time what I am making for dinner that night.  And usually, I don't really feel like thinking about it AT lunch time, because by then I'm engrossed in anywhere from 1-5 different things, and at that point, dinner time seems so far away.  So, in order to stay on top of things, I usually need to plan out a weekly menu on Monday so I have a rough plan set it place, and can merely pull something out of the freezer in the morning (if need be) and have an idea what time I need to start making the food, depending on what my menu says we'll be eating that night.  I do like to stay flexible, and often only end up actually making 5 or so of the meals I plan, often because by mid-week we have leftovers, so we'll have a mish-mosh of reheated stuff.  But in the event that there aren't leftovers, I have a plan.  Better to be safe than spending sorry, I always like to say!  ;)

Now, in order for me to stick with something with any regularity at all (and believe me, I fall off this menu-planning wagon at least one week out of every month) it has to be fun.  And, in general, (what with my lack of enjoyment of cooking and all) this whole process isn't exactly my idea of 'fun'.  So I sort of trick myself into making it about decorating.  I made a really cute menu board (it was the top piece of a bar stool that I found for about a buck at Goodwill that I spray painted with Chalkboard paint) that I can write on with chalk markers (found at Michael's) and wipe off each week to display my new menu.  Besides looking really cute (in my humble opinion) hanging in my kitchen, it also has an added bonus.  I've noticed that the kids check it each day, almost as soon as they get home from school.  Sometimes I get to hear a "Yes!", but at least half the time my dinner choice only musters an "oh.".  That's okay; I no longer plan meals around the picky eaters in my family.  (And seeing it there in black and white gives them time to mentally prepare themselves and accept what's coming!)  They're all finally old enough to just eat what's put in front of them without a fight.  (Hallelujah, and thank you, Jesus!  THAT, my friends, has been years in coming.)  You'll notice along the bottom of my menu board is also a gentle reminder (which I stole from Madame Blueberry of Veggie Tales 'Stuff-Mart' fame) "A thankful heart is a happy heart."

I'm still playing around with a few online meal planners with built in 'recipe books' and grocery list makers.  I'll let you know in another post my thoughts on them.  I'll leave you with a peek at what the Clemmers are eating this week.


Bets said...

Just so you don't get offended, I'm the one who clicked the 'who cares' button, but I also clicked the 'like' button. Because I'm proud of you for doing your meal planning, but at the same time, I'm frustrated with my lack of organization and motivation and reading your adorable little menu board made me want to blow raspberries at you. yes, I have a bad attitude ;oP, but you know I love you.

Zoanna said...

I LIKE your menu board. It's cute and and practical. It always shows you at a glance whether you have variety or (like me) have too much of a good thing in one week (for me, it'd be potatoes). If I had the wall space, I just might borrow this idea. One thing I know, we've eaten out a lot less since I've gotten serious about meal planning--and it tastes a lot better when we actually do get to hit a restaurant.