Since we’ve covered simplifying breakfast and lunch, let’s talk about simplifying dinner menus and figure this one out because I’m pretty bad at it. I’m going to share a few ways that I’ve attempted to get this one under control and you can tell me what you’ve done, or what you currently do. I think the key is one thing: plan ahead. Because even if we’re not huge planners, we can all agree that figuring out what to make for dinner at 5pm is not very efficient no matter how much magician work you can do with four ingredients from the pantry.
These are a few systems that have worked for me over the last (many) years:
Weekly menu-basically just sitting down once a week, usually the day before I go grocery shopping, and write down six meals. I usually allow one night for leftovers. I usually pull out some different cookbooks that look good right then and pull some of my favorites and maybe a new recipe. Sometimes I’ll use my Pinterest meal board too. I liked this way of planning, but sometimes I felt like it took too much of my weekly time. I seemed to get caught up in all the pretty cookbooks and Pinterest! But I think if you’re more disciplined than me, you could totally plan your meals for a week and be good to go.
Monthly menu-this is what I’m currently doing and I have been doing the last two months. It’s like the weekly menu plan, but just longer. I plan six meals per week for a whole month and fill it in on a blank calendar. When I go to the grocery store I am looking for things for the whole month that might be on sale that I can throw in the freezer, especially meat. The monthly plan never goes exactly how I have it written out, but at least I have groceries for all the meals on the menu and I can make what I feel like making.
Website planning-this is a super easy way to meal plan and I may go back to it again. There are lots of sites out there, but I used to use Eat At Home Cooks site. This blogger creates the easiest meals ever and puts them into the simplest plans. She charges a really fair fee for the menus. They’re delivered to your inbox weekly. And they are totally worth the cost. She also has options for a traditional menu, a slow cooker menu, and a whole foods menu. I loved planning my meals this way.
Seasonal planning//6-week plan-this is another way I’ve love meal planning in the past. I talk about it more in my post on having a Six-Week-Plan during a really busy time. I also call this seasonal planning because you could easily alter this for the seasons and do it that way. Basically, you choose 12-15 meals and rotate them. This would mean your plan is always done for you, you don’t really have to think too hard about grocery runs, and in 6 weeks you can choose 12 more meals. This works really well if you’re strapped on time.
Simplifying can also mean we have to get used to a new simpler system and that can be hard before it gets easier. I’m not sure if there is a perfect formula to meal planning, but my point is to find one and stick to it. When I have a menu planned for the week…or at least the next several days, and I have all the groceries I need to prepare those meals, our evenings go so much smoother. Let me know what works for you!
This post is part of a 31-day series on simplifying our homes and schools.
To read from the beginning of this series, click here:
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Oh we always have somebody that's kind of picky. But I always just tell them it's not a restaurant 🙂 It's just too hard to make everybody happy. And its weird because sometimes one kid likes something one day and doesn't like it the next time. I can't keep up!! 🙂
Hello! I used to have a two week plan that worked quite well. I know I need to get back to planning meals as we had sausages every second day last week!!! Do you find that someone always complains about a meal? I think burgers is the only meal that is complaint free. I wish I could please everybody every night but it's just not possible.