Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Menu Planning.

Yesterday I posted an Instagram picture linked to my Twitter and Facebook account that showed my dinner menu for the next two weeks. The feedback and comments I received about that picture totally caught me off guard, and I suddenly realized that for most mom's, whether a stay at home mom, or a work away from home mom, planning dinners is a big issue. I mean, I already knew it was an issue for me, which is why I decided a few months ago that planning ahead is the only solution.

I'm guessing that the same struggles I was having in the dinner department are the same that most mom's have:
1. What can I make for dinner that my family will eat?
2. Do I have the ingredients to make _______?
3. Now that I've decided to make _______, do I have enough time to prepare it?
4. Is it a balanced meal?
5. Are we getting enough variety in our diet?

Before I started menu planning, I would get a phone call from Brandon around 2:30-3:00 asking me what was for dinner. It would always stress me out, because it put me on the spot and made me flustered because I realized I hadn't properly planned. Then, I would hastily decide on something only to find that either I didn't have all the ingredients, or somebody would complain about my choice. "Mom, why do we have to have _____?" or "We are having _______ AGAIN?" or "I don't like ______!"

Frankly, I hated cooking dinner. I dreaded it.
Then I overheard a friend talking about menu planning and how it had changed her life.
I decided then and there that I needed to make changes.
So, I went home, pulled out some pretty paper, and started planning two weeks at a time.
I haven't stopped and now I can actually say that I enjoy planning, shopping for, and cooking dinner.

Now if a family member wants to know what's for dinner, they can just go to the fridge, read the posted menu and see for themselves. Every now and then, one of my pickier children will still contest a dinner choice but I've made it clear that if I'm the one cooking the meals, I get to decide what it will be. They just have to deal with it. For the most part, I think they have come to appreciate that dinner is on the table every night and have learned to be grateful.

I have had a couple of requests to share some favorite recipes and I think it's a great idea. One of the first places that I turned to when I started menu planning was Stephmodo's blog because she often posts a weekly menu. I've been inspired by her dedication to providing well balanced, healthy meals that were made from real food. Following in her example, I will start sharing our weekly menus on [most] Friday's, along with links to the recipe's I'm using when available.

Before menu planning, we rarely sat around the dining table together, and the kids would sit up to the island while Brandon and I sat wherever. Now, we eat every dinner at the table and it has made a significant difference in our family. We often linger at the table even after the meal is over chatting before everyone goes their different directions. It makes me so happy.

I'd love to hear what works for you, please share!

*I've received a few requests for the Individual Chicken Pot Pie recipe from the picture above. We love love love this recipe that Danyelle posted, and this time I added some potatoes to the pies, which was really really good!