Monday, October 05, 2015

31 Days to Surviving Sports Seasons Sanely: Menu Planning

Everyone talks about menu planning.  It’s a fantastic topic and necessary for everyday family life.  I expend so much more energy when I don’t make a menu plan by running to and from the store and coming up with different ideas and I spend way more money because I’m going to the store two or three times a week (we’ll talk more about that tomorrow!)

If you need help with it, I highly recommend Mystie Winckler’s Simplified Pantry cookbooks, menu plan, and shopping system.

My system is similar to hers, but not exactly and I don’t have the pantry component.  

First, I have a grocery list that I hang on the side of my fridge. It’s in one of those magnetic calendar hangers realtors hand out for free.  My list is separated into sections: Dairy, Meat/Freezer, Aisles, Produce, and Other.  Arranging the list by where I find the items helps me not have to backtrack:

I keep it on the fridge so I can write on the list when I use the last of something or am going to need something.

Printed on the back of my grocery list, is a table for meal planning for the week.  

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Prep for Tomorrow.  There are seven days plus one for emergencies or taking a meal to a friend in need.  That way if I go beyond my plan, I have some cushion.  I always like to have my plan with me at the store because sometimes I’ll substitute based on a special sale or realize I forgot a necessary item for some meal.  

I always look at my Google Calendar and note the activities for each day because that will affect what I cook. Piano Lesson day is an all-day crockpot meal because the kitchen opens into the dining room where the piano is and I don’t want to be disruptive during lessons. If we only have soccer, then something I can cook in the afternoon and keep warm will do.  I also pay attention to what can and what needs to be prepped the night ahead - like snacks for the team.  I also look at the weather forecast, because there are some meals I simply don’t want on a 90* day, especially if I can make a big cobb salad and pull it out of the fridge when we get home.

Finally, after shopping, I try to write the plan on this whiteboard so I - and everyone else in the family - can see it.  Sometimes, if they know what’s up, I get extra help!

One item I usually buy is the herb pack with rosemary, sage, and thyme. (If only it had parsley, too we could sing.) Anyway, it has a nice quantity and variety that adds flavor to many different kinds of meals.

Knowing what we’re going to eat, having a bit of cushion, knowing what has to be done ahead of time. These things keep me sane.


  1. BRILLIANT--the Prep for Tomorrow section and the Seven Days Plus One. These are game changers for me!

    1. That "extra" day comes in handy more often than not ... even if it's just pasta. I learned the idea from a friend at church. She always wanted a pantry-staple meal she could take to someone in need. I can always flip meals and feed us pasta and the other family the meal I'd planned if it comes to that.

      Glad I could give you some good ideas :)

  2. Also--I want to come over for breakfast on Friday! Cheddar bacon scones...yum!

    1. Sadly, they didn't happen. But they will, oh yes, they will. Maybe they'll go on this week's menu plan ...

  3. This looks like a fantastic system, and so detailed! I'm totally impressed. As a single lady, meal planning isn't as vital, but it still lowers my stress level and ensures I have leftovers for lunch, so I really need to do it more.

  4. Yup, I need this! I definitely default to the drive-through when sports season starts. I can't seem to get it together for whatever reason! But, I am working on it :-)


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