Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday's Challenge: Be the Queen of Your Kitchen

Meet my lovely friend, Jenny.
She is a fellow writer and mother who blogs at Coffee on the Porch at

Isn't she lovely? (And her family is, too.)

Today, Jenny is going to make our home-cookin' lives a whole lot easier, if we only will heed her advice.  

Why You Should Have a Menu Plan
by Jenny Sollberger

Oh I hated the idea of having to cook supper.  Why?  Did I hate to cook?  No.  Did I not know how to cook?  No.  Did I hate to eat?  Definitely no.  So what was the problem?  I wasn’t prepared.  I didn’t plan ahead and then when it came time to make the meal, I was a panicky, stressed, cranky mom.  Ick.  So I thought I’d try what it seemed everyone else was already doing: menu planning.  And you know what I found out?  I love it!  And I’ll tell you why:
  1. It saves me from the 4:00 headache of “Oh no!  What am I making for supper?!?”
  2. It saves money on my grocery bill.  I (usually!) buy only what I need for the meals I am making.
  3. It’s easier to control what my family eats.
  4. It’s easier to prepare things in advance.  When I have some time I cook rice ahead of time, make tortillas, bake…whatever might need to be done.
  5. It just feels good knowing when I’m having my morning coffee that my meals for that day are already decided.

Here is how I did mine, step by step.
  1. This is the fun part, I think.  Create your menu board!  There are so many ways to make one and Pinterest has tons of ideas.  You can simply use a sheet of paper, or note cards stuck on the fridge or you can get a little more creative.  Here’s mine:

    It’s not beautiful like some I see on Pinterest, but I like it and it works for me.  I picked up this frame at Goodwill for about $5.  It’s perfectly square which is great because I can just slip in new scrapbook paper whenever I want to change it up.  The sticker letters I had on hand and just pieced together what I needed from the sizes I had left.  As you can see, some are lower case and some are upper case.  Still cute though, right?  And the “t’s” were made by trimming other letters because I had run out of the letter “t”!  Let your creativity shine through!  I use a white board marker to write directly on the glass. It wipes off so easily that I wish I had used this method sooner.
  2. Now we work.  Make a list of meals your family will eat.  I would suggest making a list for every meal your family will eat together.  For example, my board has breakfasts and suppers on it because my boys are in school five days a week.  On the weekends, I feel I can wing it for lunches just fine.  If you homeschool or have little ones at home, you might want to include lunches on your menu.  When I first started a menu board, I planned only suppers.  That time of the day was hardest for me to concentrate because the boys were coming home from school and everything was chaotic.  But then I started noticing our breakfasts were consisting mostly of cold cereal and I wanted to change that.  The best way I knew how to do that was with a menu board.
  3. Keep that list somewhere handy. I keep mine in my family binder.  That way I know where it is every week when I sit down to plan my meals.
  4. Take stock of your freezer inventory.  Use that, and the grocery ads, to plan your week’s menu. 

    This white board used to be my menu board.  I had grand plans once upon a time.  They never happened!  So now this white board sits above my freezer chest and tells me what’s inside.  Very helpful.
  5. Now just plug in the meals where you want them to go.  Make use of a crockpot meal on a busy night.  Plan something extra special for Friday. Cook the roast one night and have beef sandwiches later in the week.  But remember to be flexible.  Just because it’s written on the board, doesn’t mean it needs to stay there.  If something unexpected comes up, just change things around. 

Be the Queen of your Kitchen and rule confidently over your domain!  Don’t be a slave to kitchen confusion!  Try a menu plan for just two weeks and see what happens.  I bet you’ll love it, too.

Your challenge this week:
If you never plan, make it a goal to plan SOMEthing- just dinners, or just your own snacks, keeping in mind your healthy-living goals.

If you already plan dinners (like I do), let's take it up a notch! Plan breakfasts or snacks, and try it out for a week. See if it doesn't make your life easier. And see if you don't enjoy being the Queen of your kitchen!

Do you plan the meals for your family? 
Any tips to share?

1 comment:

  1. This is so true. Even starting some part of your dinner in the morning is so encouraging. You just don't have it hanging over your head all day, that vague "I need to decide what to do for dinner tonight" feeling. And at four o'clock you can be at rest, knowing dinner's already underway.


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