|What we're eating this week.|
Then one day a friend posted a picture of her weekly menu magnet board on Facebook, and I had a lightbulb moment. I needed one of those! We had done weekly menus before, so I knew they worked pretty well for us, but it seemed like having an actual tangible board stuck to the fridge could really be a game changer for us. I know it sounds a bit simplistic, but I'm a really visual person, so having our menu posted where I knew would see it multiple times a day made it seem like we would actually use it. Plus I have real, genuine issues with incomplete lists and forms not being filled out, so I knew I couldn't bear to leave it blank for long.
Well, we're six months into using our weekly menu, and I have to say it is really working for us! We all like knowing what's for dinner ahead of time (whether we're the one eating or cooking), and it almost completely takes the stress out of feeding everyone. And it has cut down the amount of eating out we do pretty dramatically, which means that we are eating more healthily too. The food still has to be prepared, but it's so much easier when you know what to make and have the ingredients on hand, don't you think?
Of course, it does take a little time to sit down and plan it all out, but we have a some "rules" and tricks that make that job a little easier:
- Ideally, I have the menu ready to go on Saturday so I can do all of the shopping for the week when Nick can either come with me and help wrangle kids, or stay home with them while I go and do the grocery shopping on my own. Or Gwen and I go and do the grocery shopping on Monday morning while Espen is at school.
- We eat the meals that need the freshest produce early in the week, and save the foods that last longer for later in the week. So, salad on Monday or Tuesday, and pasta on Thursday or Friday.
- I ask everyone to suggest something they would like to eat for dinner during the upcoming week. Three heads come up with better suggestions than one, and it guarantees that everyone gets something they like at least once during the week.
- Before going shopping, I usually snap a photo of the menu with my phone. It works as well as a shopping list for me because each meal "title" reminds me of what items we need to buy to make it. If it's something more complicated, or a recipe that I don't make very often, I'll take a photo of the recipe itself.
- Plan your meals to suit the day. For example, this week we had ciabatta sandwiches on Monday because we needed something fairly quick that everyone likes so we would have time for family home evening (we have family night on Mondays) after dinner. And then dinner on Wednesday needs to be something quick that Nick can cook when he gets home from work while me and the kids are at soccer. Then we only have half an hour to eat before Nick leaves for scouts. Fridays are often something a bit more fun because it is FINALLY the weekend, and Sunday dinners are often a bit more elaborate because we have time to cook, and can do it together as a family.
- Every week I try to shoot for at least two of the following: salad, fish, soup or meatless. Sometimes it might be fish soup, and sometimes it might be a vegetarian salad. Doing it this way just helps to keep our meals a little healthier, and to switch things up a bit so we don't get stuck in too much of a rut.
- If we find we are missing ingredients for a meal, I'll add a star next to it so we remember to pick up whatever we need before we make it. Which means that I need to get to the grocery store before dinnertime on Thursday!
Admittedly, there are still days where I call Nick and ask him through gritted teeth to stop by the drive through on his way home, or I get out a frozen pizza for dinner, and that is totally fine! The important thing is that as a general rule, we are cooking and eating at home, and feeling a lot happier about it.
So, tell me: do you do this at home? Something similar? If you do, what brilliant tips and ideas have I missed? And if you don't, do you think you should? Or is it all too type A and organized for you? What are you doing that works for you instead?