This post contain affiliate links to a great meal planning website. My hope is that you find something that works for you and helps with this task of homemaking.
Last week I responded to a Facebook post from another homeschooling mom. The question asked was, “What do your lunches look like?” The question was brought up by an infographic showing school lunches from various countries around the world. Let me just state, while I loved some of my school lunches, they NEVER looked like that. Amazing what food staged for pictures look like versus what food served up by lunch room workers look like. Also, we rarely if ever got a cookie.
It seems I was in the minority, with most of the responses being along the lines of “Whatever we can find” or “They fend for themselves.” Lunch at our home tends to be the largest meal of the day. This has not always been the case.
When both my husband and I worked outside the home, I took my lunch (see below) and he would eat out. Supper was the largest meal, but with only two of us and me not getting home till about 6 p.m. even that meal was not always really large.
Another factor in what our meal plan has become is my husband. If it were up to me it would look something like this:
Breakfast – egg sandwich and coffee x 7, add tomato or cheese if feeling ‘fancy’
Lunch – peanut butter and jelly with a piece of fruit and a cup of yogurt x 7, change up flavors of jelly and yogurt and type of fruit for variety
Supper – soup and a sandwich (tomato soup, chicken and noodle soup, chili, beef stew, etc.)
And yes, there would be no meal plan each week because, frankly, there would not be much planning needed.
There also may not be a husband in the house because I am fairly sure he would have revolted over a decade ago. For one, he does not like egg sandwiches. Secondly, he does not like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Thirdly, he thinks changing the kind of yogurt and flavor of jelly does not constitute having variety in ones diet. I think he would be okay with soup each night if we have nice break in the house.
This is where being a homemaker comes in. It is my job to make a home for others, a place where they actually want to be. To think of them while going about my routines of keeping thing going.
While I would not mind such a simple meal routine, I did it for many years on my own, my husband disagrees strongly. What is one to do? Tip: Digging in your heels till he sees the error of his ways is not the way to go. I began looking for new recipes and taking more time out of my day to make a meal we both like. In order to make those meals, I had to have the ingredients in the pantry. In order to have them in the pantry I needed to know what I was making so I could buy what I did not have. And so began meal planning for one or two meals a day.
Yes, it has meant more time in the kitchen and more dishes. It has also meant finding some really delicious recipes. This is what works for us at this time.
When a recipe seems time consuming or complicated and I really do not think I have the time to make it, I invite my husband to try it on a Saturday. He is a good cook and enjoys doing it when he has time. And time right now, time during the week is often in short supply for him.
Last week was one of those crazy weeks of my own making. We were going to be out of the house over the lunch hour for 3 days, doctor appointment one day and field trips the other two days. It would have been easy to say, “You are on your own” and leave it at that. The result would have been a much higher eating out bill. Instead, I made two meals ahead and the third one left up to my husband to decide. There were supplies enough in the kitchen to make a sandwich or soup if he wanted to come home.
By having two meals already made, not only was my husband still able to have his large meal at home those days, but the rest of us were also able to still have a nice meal and not have to eat out. It did mean making 3 meals one day, which I really did not like doing, but I preferred that over spending 4 times as much each day for us to eat out. (It can cost us $5 -$6 a person to eat out and $1-$2 to eat at home.)
My meal planning took a turn for the more detailed about 5 years ago. What happened then? We had two little boys move into our home with a very high need to know what they were going to be eating. They also had no ability to wait. If I stood in the kitchen thinking about what to make, 30 seconds later I would have 2 whining kids at my ankles begging for food.
As we found out more about them, the reasons became clear. That did not make it easier, but it helped when I became frustrated with the issues.
You see, every night when I said, “Good night, I’ll see you in the morning.” The automatic response would be, “What are we having for breakfast?” “Cereal” was not an acceptable response as these kids did not eat cereal. Well, at least not the kind that is in anyway healthy for you.
And so began me planning not only lunches, but all 3 meals. Every day. Each week.
It quickly became apparent that I needed to find a more efficient way to plan some of these meals. Thankfully, unlike my husband, the kids did not mind having the same meal for breakfast every day. AND they thought a change in flavor of jelly fully acceptable to keep things exciting.
For the first 6 months of these two little, bursting at the seams with energy, bundles of boy-ness we had the following for breakfast – eggs, toast, fruit, milk. My husband had his choice of breakfast meals, though he usually opted for a shake.
Not only did having the same thing for breakfast everyday make meal planning easier, it also created a routine. They knew that food was going to be there and they knew what it was going to be.
After 6 months I decided it was time to introduce a bit of variety into their lives. Each day of the week, breakfast got a meal type.
- Sunday – shakes
- Monday – eggs and toast
- Tuesday – cream of wheat or other warm cereal
- Wednesday – a muffin or other carb
- Thursday – shake
- Friday – oatmeal or other warm cereal
- Saturday – eggs, toast, fruit, meat or eating out in Big Town.
And here we are 4.5 year later with almost the exact routine still in place. I can often tell you which day of the week it is by what we had for breakfast. It really throws off our week if we have shakes on a day other than Sunday and Thursday.
Over time it would have been easy to stick with what used to work for me, to say “no” to change. However, my love for others, wanting to show them I care about their likes and dislikes, and wanting to care for their needs, has led me to taking time to do something they may not always think about – meal planning so there is something there for them to eat.
Please, do not take this as me saying, “If you do not meal plan and cook everyday you do not love your family.” That is not at all what I am trying to get across. I am saying that this is one way I have chosen to express my love for my family. I could say the same thing about doing the laundry or requesting movies from the library. Neither of those two latter things would be activities I would give much thought to if it were just me. My love for others, though, has shown me that sometimes we have to stretch and be willing to invest in activities that we may not otherwise seek out.
Meal planning has allowed me to do this activity of love more efficiently and frugally.
- Eggs, toast, fruit
- Hot rice cereal with nuts and raisins
- Strawberry-jam Hand Pies
- Eat out
- Chinese Barbecued Pork, steamed veggetables
- Pulled Pork Sandwich, potato salad
- Black Bean Burgers
- Tuscan Style Beef Stew
- Sandwiches, fruit, chip
- Healthy Slow Cooked Tikka Masala, rice
- Cream of Tomato Soup
- Falafel, barley