With 26 years as a homemaker under my belt, I’ve tried many different ways to plan our family’s meals–from strict, three-meals-a-day menus to totally winging it. Since I’m not a very scheduled and disciplined sort of person, the strict menus didn’t work. And for any homemaker, winging it doesn’t work.
I’ve been revisiting this idea recently because of an experience I’ve been through. It began with dissatisfaction. I’ve been very busy, my daughter has grown up and gotten a life of her own (which doesn’t include keeping house for me), and I had a bad attitude about not being able to hire help (because I saw that a friend had). I’m just being honest here, gals. This is not the place you want to be.
Anyway, I discovered a menu service that I thought would work. I thought that for the mere $5/month subscription cost I could claim that as my “house help” at a reasonable rate and save myself quite a bit of time in the kitchen. This person claimed her menus would be within my budget and all the recipes would be from scratch with healthy ingredients. What more could I ask for?
Honestly, I was still not satisfied. This woman’s plan kept me in the kitchen way more than I was accustomed and I was getting very little else done. Where my family had previously been happy with toast, eggs, or cereal for breakfast, this menu had me making Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits, Strawberry Cheesecake Crepes, and Bacon and Egg Quesadillas. There went my morning quiet time. Then, while we were happy with peanut butter sandwiches or grilled cheese for lunch, I found myself trying to muster the energy to serve the Ham and Spinach Pitas, Cajun Shrimp Salad, and Spinach Alfredo Tortilla Bake.
Then, I remembered my category method. Oh, the simplicity of that plan. Ladies, the category method of meal planning has always been my favorite method and, I think, always will be. That is what I want to share with you here.
Choose seven categories of food. We like pizza, crock pot, pasta, sandwiches, rice, potatoes, and leftovers. What I do is assign a category to each day of the week. For instance, Monday is potato day, Tuesday is pasta day, etc. I then make a long list of our family’s favorite meals: lasagne, pizza, beans and rice, baked potato bar, tacos, etc. Once I complete the list, I plug in those favorites under the appropriate category on a blank calendar sheet. (I’ve pasted a picture of one here for you to see.) This is how I plan supper.
For breakfast, we eat either scrambled eggs, toast, or cereal every day and each person is responsible for their own. (If you have little kids, I would make one thing for everyone and alternate days for variety.) For lunch, we eat soup and bread during the school year, sandwiches in the summer. I recently bought a bread maker (since my previous bread maker has a life now ) and that is helping tremendously at keeping the bread supply up.
There is so much more I could share, but I think I’ll save those ideas for anther day. However, if you have a menu plan that works for you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Just don’t become disgruntled, sisters, from not having what your sisters have. Use what God has given you, find a workable method for your family, and His joy will return to your heart.
This post is linked to Katherine’s Favorite Things and Simple Lives Thursday, the Hearth & Soul Blog Hop, Teach Me Tuesday, Titus 2sDay, Works for Me Wednesday, Big Family Friday, and Frugally Sustainable.