Friday, July 11, 2014

Updating Our Menu

July is here.  Now's the time to update chores, menus, school plans and schedules for the upcoming school year.  By planning now, we'll be able to practice for most of July and August before we jump into school mode the beginning of September.  Ideally all the changes will be second nature by then, and adding school to the routine will be simple.  

We'll see how it actually works out!

The kids were very excited about updating our menu.  Just FYI, here is the thinking behind my meal plan. The post I linked to has last year's menu, and some additional information.

  • We eat the same breakfast and lunch every day of the week (Mondays are the same, Tuesdays the same, etc.)
  • The kids each have a day of the week.  On their day, they were able to pick breakfast and lunch.  
  • Each dinner has a theme.  The kids were also able to pick which theme they wanted for their night.  
  • One snack a day is planned.  (Which is a change--this year we had two, but my kids weren't eating meals really well, so one has to go!) 
  • The snack is something the kids will ideally be able to do most of the prep work for.
  • Jayme is responsible for cooking one breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack this year.  She picked which meals she wanted, and spread them out over four different days. Break for mom, great skills for her!
  • We add seasonal or frozen fruit and veggies to round out each meal choice. 
  • This menu will stay the same (with minimal changes as needed) until next July.  
Why do I menu plan like this?  Good question!  Here's some insight into my brain..

1.  Having a set meal plan saves on time during the school year when I'm really busy.
2.  I'm able to prepare a shopping list that stays the same for each monthly trip.
3.  I'm able to take advantage of savings on items I know I'll need, and don't end up with a pantry full of something we don't actually eat.
4. My theme dinners allow me to be as flexible and creative as I desire.  For instance, Fiesta Night can be as simple as nachos.  Or it can be complex with homemade tortillas turned into wonderful enchiladas.  Some weeks are crazy!  Some are less so.  I have a plan (and ingredients) for them all.
5.  I have a rotation for each of the theme nights.  These are four meals that I know the family will eat.  But...I don't have to stick to them.  I can change that part up.  But having four planned out means I'll always have a backup if I need one!
6.  I'm able to save on groceries!  This method allows me to buy what we need, stock up on what I can, and not go all crazy buying fancy ingredients that'll only be used for one specific meal.  I used to be horrible at that!
7.  The kids know what to expect.  They thrive on routine.  They also have some ownership in this menu.  After all, they are the ones who picked many of the meals.  Makes meal time less of a headache! 
8.  It allows me to commit many recipes to memory.  You try making the same thing every Monday for a year and see how naturally it comes to you after awhile.
9. This plan makes prep work easy.  If we're having oatmeal for breakfast every Friday, I need to start the oats soaking on Thursday.  I can easily see what kind of meat might need pulled out for the next night and let it thaw too. In order to make egg fried rice for lunch, I need to cook it the day before so we have cold rice to start with. Simplifying life is good--especially at this season of my life!
10.  I'm sure there are more, but I can't think of them off the top of my head!

You'll notice some hyperlinks in my menu table.  Those take you to the sites with the recipes.  I might not always use the same one, but most of the time I do.  This makes it easy for me to find them when I need them. It also gives Jayme a place to turn when she does the cooking!

So here you are...our 2014-2015 Master Menu Plan!


Afternoon Snack

Baked Potato Bar


Ellie’s Day
Meat, Cheese, Crackers & Pickles

Jayme’s Day
Sausage patty & Egg
Mini Pizzas*

Owen’s Day
Grilled Cheese & Carrots
Pretzels & cheese
Fiesta Night

Sydney’s Day
Yogurt & Jam/Honey
Asian Night

Jeffrey's Day
Scrambled Eggs*
PB & J, Applesauce
Pizza @ Grandma’s

 Simon's Day
Cookies/Brownies & Milk *
Hodge Podge

*=Jayme Cooks!

Baked Potato Rotation:
Cheesy Broccoli

Pasta Rotation:
Spaghetti & Meatballs
Oriental Noodle Delight (Basically homemade oriental noodles, veggies, diced meat and whatever else Jayme feels like adding—she loves making this dish!)
Chicken, Peas & White sauce over homemade noodles

Seafood Rotation
French Bread Crab Sandwich
Tuna Patties (or Salmon) with mashed potatoes and peas
Baked fish with baked potato and broccoli 

Fiesta Rotation
Tacos or Taco Salad
Crockpot Mexican Casserole

Asian Rotation
Mandarin chicken over brown rice with sautéed cabbage

Hodge Podge is basically mom's choice!  Whatever I feel like making, or leftovers or whatever.  Simon is still too young to pick meals, so I also picked for him! (Benefit of being mom!)

I'm looking forward to getting into the groove with our new menu plan!  What works best for your family now for meal planning?

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