"What's for dinner?"
As innocent as this question seems, the repercussions can be intense when we don't have an answer.
Whiny kids whose batteries are drained... Husbands wondering what we "did" all day and how hard can it be to make dinner... Mom guilt for not planning ahead... None of which help anything!
I experience these situations regularly enough that a couple of times a year I get serious about menu planning. Some people claim it only takes them 15 minutes, but it always takes me much longer. Between looking through my recipe box, Pinterest links, favorite food blogs, and asking the kids for ideas it can be quite the rabbit hole. So forget about figuring it out for only one week! It doesn't take much longer to just plan out the whole month.
The one idea that has made menu planning easier for me is having a theme for each night.
Here are four variations:
1. If you have some serious favorites, just make the same recipe each week.
(tacos on Monday, BBQ pork on Tue...)
2. Branch out and have food from a different ethnicity or region each night.
(Mexican, Greek, Indian, Cajun, Italian)
3. You could focus on a specific main ingredient each day.
(meatless, chicken, beef, fish, pork)
4. I usually go with something like this:
(crockpot, easy, soup/sandwich, baked, kid favorites)
Knowing what's for dinner (and having the food on hand to make it!) is one of the best ways I know to help my family's days go better. The peace of mind it gives me alone is worth the initial trouble. In case you have those days too, here's a sample menu to get you started.
*In this case, on Mondays, I'm basically making a large chunk of meat so that we'll have extra to use in another recipe later in the week. This is not a season of life when gourmet meals are a priority, so most days it's all about the easier the better.