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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Feed Your Family 101: Menu Planning On A Five Week Rotating Schedule

It's 5:00 p.m. You have been busy all day doing your homemaking work or perhaps you work at a job all day and you come home exhausted. You need to get dinner on the table, but you have no idea what to fix for supper. You feel rushed, your family is hungry and you just throw some food together and call it good. Do you struggle to find time to meal plan and get healthy meals served to your family? What about grocery shopping? Are you spending too much time going to the store because you forgot something you need to make a meal or worse yet, you stop at the local fast-food restaurant and get burgers and fries or pizza because you don't have a plan in place for preparing and serving meals?

Menu planning is a vital part of homemaking. I struggled with getting food on table at a reasonable hour for a long time, because I didn't plan ahead. A few months ago I decided to take charge of our dinner menu. I got tired of last minute scrambles to throw something together for dinner. So, I sat down and came up with a plan that has been working for us quite nicely, a five week rotating dinner menu. I made some blank calendar pages with the seven days of the week that is seven columns wide and five rows deep. I went through all of my cookbooks and recipes and wrote down 35 meals that we like to eat on a regular basis, put them on the calendar, hung it on the refrigerator and now I know exactly what we are having for dinner every night, so I can plan my days accordingly.

Some of the meals repeat weekly like homemade pizza on Friday nights, hamburgers and french fries on Saturdays and tacos/mexican on Wednesdays (We are weird that way we do taco Wednesday's instead of Tuesdays...smiles). Other nights are themed. Mondays are chicken dishes, Tuesdays are pork, Thursdays are breakfast, Sundays are pasta. I also have a few extra meals that are quick and easy to make for days when I am pressed for time, too tired or sick to cook a planned meal. Grocery shopping has become so much easier with a well-planned dinner menu. I know what we are going to have, so each week when I make my grocery list, I make sure to put on my list anything that I need to cook dinner for the week. Of course, I keep a well-stocked pantry for hard-times, so often times I don't have to add weekly menu items because I keep them on hand. I highly recommend keeping your pantry full of the things you use most often. I strive to keep at least six months worth of food in the pantry at all times. That is for another post on another day.

Because I am a stay-at-home, work-at-home wife and homemaker, I make a LOT of our food from scratch. All of our "hamburger helper" I make by putting all the dry ingredients into zip lock bags in the serving size we need. I make our bread, biscuits, pizza dough and hamburger buns, corn chips & salsa Sometimes I will make flour tortiallas instead of using store-bough corn toritillas. I use dried beans and peas when most of the time and I even make our cheese. I encourage you to make as much of your food from scratch as possible. It is so much better for you than buying prepackaged foods.

Here is what our dinner menu looks like for five weeks. My menu calendar runs Sunday through Saturday:

1. Beef Stroganoff, cheese biscuits, salad
2. Baked Chicken (breast for me, legs for my husband), yellow rice, mixed veggies or corn
3. Pork chops, hash browned potatoes, asparagus
4. Tacos w/lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, olives, chips and salsa, refried beans
5. Fried eggs, turkey bacon, toast, fruit
6. Homemade pizza, salad, BBQ cauliflower "wings", salad
7. Hamburgers w/cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, baked french fries
8. Lasagna Hamburger Helper, garlic toast, green beans, salad
9. Baked breaded chicken strips, buttery parmesan rice, carrots
10. Hawaiian pork chops, steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes
11. Potato enchiladas, mexican rice, salad
12. Scrambled eggs w/ham, biscuits and jelly, fruit
13. Homemade pizza, salad, BBQ cauliflower "wings", salad
14. Hamburgers w/cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, baked french fries
15. Chili Macaroni Helper, cornbread, corn, salad
16. Chicken stir-fry, egg rolls
17. Pork chop casserole, green peas, salad
18. Taco salad, beans & rice mix, corn
19. McMuffin sandwiches w/eggs, cheese, turkey bacon (or chicken sausage), hash brown potatoes, fruit
20. Homemade pizza, salad, BBQ cauliflower "wings", salad
21. Hamburgers w/cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, baked french fries
22. Italian Hamburger Helper, garlic biscuits, salad, spinach
23. Chicken Stroganoff, bread sticks, green beans
24. Dixie pork chops, lima (butter) beans, steamed carrots
25. Black bean tacos w/lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, olives, chips and salsa
26. Fried eggs, turkey bacon (or chicken sausage), pancakes w/syrup, fruit
27. Homemade pizza, salad, BBQ cauliflower "wings", salad
28. Hamburgers w/cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, baked french fries
29. Hamburger Goulash, garlic toast, salad
30. Baked chicken (breast for me, legs for my husband), lemon herb rice, cheese biscuits, spinach
31. BBQ pork sandwiches, homemade baked beans, coleslaw
32. Mexican lasagna, salad
33. Egg & cheese omelets, fried ham, hash brown potatoes, fruit
34. Homemade pizza, salad, BBQ cauliflower "wings", salad
35. Hamburgers w/cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, baked french fries

Here's how it all breaks down:
Sundays-pasta dish x 5
Mondays-chicken dish x 5
Tuesdays-pork dish x 5
Wednesdays-taco/mexican dish x 5
Thursdays-breakfast dish x 5
Fridays-pizza x 5
Saturdays-hamburgers & baked fries x 5

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