After many years of resisting, I think I’m ready to get on board with the idea of a rotating menu plan. I enjoy cooking, and I love finding new recipes to try. Sticking to a schedule of meals always sounded boring, and like a good way to stifle kitchen creativity. But with our second child due to arrive in a month, a busy business, a huge garden that will soon be requiring a lot of attention, and a basement remodel – I think it’s time to streamline our food preparation – or at least take the mental work out of it, so that I don’t have to spend time wondering what I should make for dinner.
I like the idea of a schedule that would repeat every two weeks, so that we don’t feel like we’re eating just a few meals over and over. I can think of a few meals off the top of my head that will definitely be included – our favorite rice and beans dish, a crock pot soup that we love, spaghetti with homemade sauce (we still have jars of sauce that I canned last fall, and they should last for another couple months)… and I know that my husband and son will have some ideas that they will want to throw in the mix too. I think I’ll shoot for 12 meals on the list, which will give me a little wiggle room for creativity and trying new recipes the other two days.
Breakfast is easy – we buy oats in 50 pound bags, and my husband cooks oatmeal every morning for us. Lunch is usually leftovers, sandwiches, salad, or something along those lines. I’ll make sure that most of the meals I put in our dinner schedule are big enough to provide us with leftovers for lunch the next day, which makes lunch a breeze.
Once garden season gets here, I’ll be able to go back to grocery shopping no more than twice a month (during the winter I shop more than that in order to get fresh produce, but in the summer and fall our garden produces enough to allow me to space out the shopping trips a lot more). With a two week meal plan, our shopping list should look pretty much the same every two weeks, and the process should be pretty simple.
I know that a lot of other bloggers have been using menu plans for ages. I remember my father proposing an idea for simplified cooking about 25 years ago. This is not a new idea, I’ve just never been interested in it before. But now I’m ready, so please share your favorite tips for menu planning, recipes that your family doesn’t get tired of, and whatever other ideas you have for simplifying the process of “what’s for dinner” while sticking with homemade and nutritious.