I follow the same basic steps every week as I plan our menu. I’m sharing these with you just to help you think through your own menu planning strategy. My steps may, or may not, work for you, but I hope taking this walk with me as I plan our dinner menu for the coming week will help you on your own journey.
My first step is to look at my calendar for the week. Are there any appointments, events or special occasions this week? My husband is scheduled to be off Sunday, Monday and Tuesday this week, though he may work one day of over time. He has a full day of errands planned for one of those days, and we’re hoping that errand day will be Monday.
Thursday afternoon we hope that Corin and my grandbabies will be out for a visit. Thursday evening our Discipleship Group from church will meet in our home. And somehow, in the midst of all of that happening Thursday, I also scheduled an appointment for Will’s oral surgery appointment the same day.
Also, before I start writing up the menu plan, I ask Dani for her suggestions for the meals/dishes she’s responsible for during the week. Lately she’s been giving me enough choices for two or three weeks at a time. I pick the dishes from her choices that best fit the week’s schedule and that best fit in with the other meals I’m planning. I keep her other suggestions on my Menu Planning page on my computer to use in the next week or two. (I’ll talk about my Menu Planning page on my computer in a future post).
This week doesn’t look too bad, with the exception of Thursday. It’s time to start planning the dinner menu for the week.
Sunday – We are gone all day Sunday, enjoying worship, lunch and extended fellowship at church. After the full day, and the hour’s drive home, no one wants a big meal, but we all need to eat something. For the past several years, we’ve had “Wild Dinner” on Sunday night. That means that, within reason, everyone just fends for himself. Cereal is okay. Making a sandwich is okay. Big bowls of popcorn are common. Foraging through the fridge for left overs happens, too.
Monday – Copper is scheduled to be off, but he wants to spend the day running errands. Dani cooks dinner on Monday nights, but my husband needs Dani and I both to run errands with him, so we needed a fairly quick dinner that didn’t require a lot of advance preparation. We missed having German Pancake with Homemade Buttermilk Syrup and Link Sausages from last week’s menu. Since all of the ingredients, including the sausage, are still available, that meal was simply carried over to this week’s menu.
Tuesday – Taco Tuesday! For the last few months, we’ve enjoyed having ‘Tacos for dinner on Tuesday night. My husband enjoys fixing these for us, and we enjoy eating them! It won’t last forever, but for now Tuesday night is Taco Night at Copper’s house! (If my husband works at overtime shift, I make the tacos, or I make something else using the “fly by the seat of your pants” method.)
Wednesday – As I reached mid-week on the menu plan, I could look back and see that Monday we’d had sausage and an egg-based dish, and Tuesday’s Tacos featured ground beef. It was time for chicken. I wanted to make something we’d not had in awhile, so I flipped through my recipe box and pulled out Sue Gregg’s Parmesan Chicken recipe. Perfect! It was simple to match this great chicken dish with Sue’s equally yummy Golden Mashed Potatoes. I’ll round the meal out with a steamed veggie of some sort from the freezer. My husband will be working Wednesday, but I will make at least one full serving extra of this meal to send to work with him later this week.
Thursday – Now I’ve reached that busy day in my week. First of all, we need to be sure to have a dessert for our church group in the evening, and we also want to have a goody to share with Corin and the kids when they come. I chose cupcakes for both. The cupcakes can be baked by the dozens on Wednesday and then frosted Thursday morning.
Since Corin typically leaves between 4:30 and 5:00 and our church group begins arriving at 6:45, Thursday night’s dinner needed to be quick to prepare and easy to clean up. I bought some wonderful Chicken, Artichoke and Garlic sausages at the store this week. Sliced and sauteed with some fresh vegetables (onions, carrots, baby spinach) and then served over pasta tossed with olive oil, fresh, coarsely ground black pepper and topped with a generous sprinkling of real Parmesan Cheese, those sausages fit the bill. A nice, green salad will balance the meal out nicely.
Friday – Sometimes it seems like we eat a lot of ground beef. Sometimes that’s just the way it is! I’ve plenty of ground beef in the freezer right now and it’s versatile. However, because we’ve been eating it often, I was looking for either a new recipe, or an old favorite, but something completely different than the other ground beef dishes we’re having. As I checked the “ground meat” section of my recipe box, I found Chinese Burger Patties. We’ve not had these for quite awhile. I’ll serve them with homemade fried rice and Ambrosia Salad.
Saturday – Nachos. My husband works twelve hour shifts. On the days he works, he’s not home for dinner. However, some time ago, we started holding dinner for him on Saturday nights, and since that time, Saturday night has been Nacho night.
Here are a few things to note. We missed having one of last week’s menu items, but the planning and ingredients weren’t wasted. Instead, I just transferred the missed meal (German Pancake) to this week’s menu.
Right now, we have a couple of repeat meals every week. Tacos on Tuesday and Nachos on Saturday. There’s still plenty of room for variety and trying new things on the other days of the week. This won’t last forever, but it’s working for us now. It’s okay to do things this way, ladies, if it works for your family and your husband is okay with it. My husband is MORE than okay with Tacos and Nachos every week, so it’s a win-win situation that we’ll enjoy while it lasts.
I’ve tried to explain things as clearly as possible, but I’m sure I’ve lost some of you. It seems like a lengthy, complicated process. In reality, I spent about half an hour, total, on this week’s menu, including breakfast and lunch (which I’ll cover in another post). Some weeks do take longer, but other weeks are planned in fifteen minutes.
If you have questions, please ask them!
Are you ready to put together a menu plan for the week?
Next post in this series: Beyond Just Dinner – Planning Breakfast and Lunch Menus