So much of the work of managing a household and educating the children at home is mental. Much like overseeing a large project in the workplace, managing the details of a well-organized home and the lives therein entails a well-thought-out and flexible battle plan.
It might seem like a lot of unnecessary work to write down a month’s worth of meals, particularly if your plans tend to change on a whim. But I have found that just having the thinking done and over with frees me to make spontaneous choices on the days I need to while at the same time not having to think through three meals a day every. single. day.
I begin with a blank calendar page. Organized Home has them free to download, but be forewarned that if you go to their site you might get lost in it for hours.
First, I write in the meals that are the same each week- we always have bagels on Sunday mornings and cereal on Wednesdays because we have to get out the door early for lessons. Other breakfast and lunch meals tend to remain pretty unchanging and basic just to keep things simplified. And there are seasonal considerations- in the summer we eat a lot of yogurt and smoothies and in the winter we eat quite a bit of oatmeal and hot breakfasts.
Next I check our calendar and write in special events such as birthdays, guests, and meals away from home. After those considerations, I can begin to think through meals. What’s in the freezer? Is anyone trying to eat lighter? Are we tired of something in particular or craving something else? I also like to ask each child what they would like to see served for dinner this month, and of course my husband gets first pick.
As I finish a week’s menu plan, I then make a corresponding grocery list. The list isn’t comprehensive; it includes only the items necessary to make what I’ve planned for that week. Before actually doing the week’s shopping, I add to the list any other items we might need such as fruit, milk, etc. I number each week to the left and then make the lists on the back of the calendar page under “Week One”, “Week Two”, etc.
The whole process from start to finish might take an hour. More if I am trying to be creative, less if I am simply following the menu from another month, or even year. I like to file the menus away because often I forget about a meal we liked or I can see that we haven’t had something in awhile. And then I move on to the business of feeding my family without the hassle of wondering what’s for dinner.