Early on in my parenting decisions, family dinners were a must. A time to relax, enjoy good food, review the day, and converse with loved ones, the supper table was where relationships were formed and family was established.
Five Staples for Menu Planning
As with anything of importance, family dinners take planning and consistency. Although our family has had many different seasons, I created a system which had the flexibility for toddlers to teens. Here are the five staples to my menu planning skills:
create a routine
Find a time of the week that works best for planning. Typically the day before or the day of shopping. Creating a routine that is respected by the family will save you time on trips to the store and eating out. Whether weekly or biweekly, make time to sit and begin planning for your menu.
Before writing out the specific menu and grocery items, you can often save money by using up what’s in the pantry. Scan your shelves and begin brainstorming how you can use up those cans, boxes, and packages of food that have been sitting way too long in the pantry.
For grab-and-go meals like breakfast and lunch, create a list of grocery staples like butter, milk, eggs, peanut butter, etc. Use this list to take inventory before running to the store.
In my neck of the woods, stores will honor competitor ads. So I review the best deals in local stores and begin to make my menu plans according to the pantry inventory and the best bargains on food for the week.
make a plan
With my knowledge of what’s in the pantry and what’s on sale, I write out the menu. Sometimes, for special occasions, this will include a breakfast or lunch, but mainly dinners. I also take into consideration a leftover night, date night, or any other activity that might be planned.
With a plan in hand, create your grocery list, making sure to add staples to your list. Shop with list in hand, bringing along coupons and/or sale ads.
stick to the plan
The key to any plan is sticking to it. If possible, take a few minutes each morning and prepare vegetables, clean meats, or begin prepping dinner. Use your crock pot when you can and get the kids in to help.