Simple Pantry Cooking

Easy Menu Planning | cooking uncomplicated

What we’re eating this week

simple easy homemade family menu plan

Summer is on the way with warmer weather, so it’s time to put away the crockpot and soup plans and dust off my cooler menu options. Soups are so easy that it’s always a little sad, but grilling season and the fresh garden veggies will compensate.

menuplan

I use Google calendar for menu planning, and that makes it easy to adjust the menu as summer plans flex and change.

Breakfasts This Week

  • Tuesdays & Thursdays: German pancakes
  • Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays: simple homemade granola with homemade yogurt
  • Saturday: Daddy-made pancakes
  • Sunday: whole wheat cinnamon rolls (made on Saturday)

Lunches This Week

  • Monday: pbj, apples
  • Tuesday: cheesy potato steak fries
  • Wednesday: flatbread made Saturday, pb-yogurt-honey dip, apple & celery
  • Thursday: rice with carrots & peas, topped with butter or cheese
  • Friday: microwave nachos with refried beans

Dinners This Week

Simplified Dinners eBook

Streamline menu planning, grocery shopping, and dinner cooking with Simplified Dinners!

plan-shop-cook

How to menu plan 6 weeks at a time

Remembering how to menu plan

As the end of the school semester drew near, the holidays drew near, the end of the year drew near, I stopped menu planning. I just never took the time to sit down and write out meals – there were always other things I thought I should be doing.

We still ate just fine – Simplified Dinners means a slip up in the menu planning process doesn’t throw me for much of a loop. We had our standard supplies in the pantry and I just made whatever I could with whatever meat I could remember to thaw (or used the tuna or an egg meal if I had forgotten).

But running life without a menu plan is not ideal. It’s not how I want to do things. The truth is, without a menu plan, dinner-making is more exhausting, even when there’s plenty of food to pull meals together. It’s about decision-fatigue. At the end of the day, I want the decisions about dinner already made for me, because I don’t have much energy or attention left over to give it.

The truth is, without a menu plan, dinner-making is more exhausting, even when there’s plenty of food to pull meals together. It’s about decision-fatigue. At the end of the day, I want the decisions about dinner already made for me, because I don’t have much energy or attention left over to give it.

So, I sat down during our Christmas break and planned out six week’s worth of meals in one fell swoop. We homeschool and have 6-week terms and then a week off, so I planned meals through our next term and during our next break, I can dedicate another forty-five minutes to planning out the next 6 week’s worth of dinners.

This process was made quicker for me because I use Google calendar for menu planning, but you can use whatever way you prefer.

Here’s how I did it.

How to menu plan 6 weeks at a time.

  1. Take stock of what’s in your freezer already. I had a ham, some pork, and beef soup bones in addition to the chicken breasts and frozen meatballs I usually have.
  2. Fill in any special days coming up: birthdays, eating out, friends over – if you already have plans on certain days, mark those.
  3. Decide on some standard day-of-the-week dinners. We do chicken on Mondays. I can do chicken a lot of ways, but every Monday morning, I know I need to go grab some chicken out of the basement freezer. Wednesdays are crockpot days at our house. Assign a certain type of meal to some of the days of the week.
  4. Fill in variations those assigned dinner types for the next six weeks. If you spread out your different options for chicken or crockpot dinners, you’ll not feel like you’re cooking and eating the same thing every week.
  5. Start filling in other dinner options. Think about how much time or energy is usually left by the end of the day on certain days of the week. What days are you more likely to feel like cooking and what days are good for pulling out the frozen meatballs? I usually alternate weeks on some meals – Tuesday one week might be a tortilla meal and then rice the next. Planning in six weeks chunks helps make rotations like that simpler to plan.
  6. Make sure you plan the vegetable and side if you need one as well as the main dish. See my post on Menu Planning: Think in Threes for more about planning a complete meal.

Each and every dinner will not happen as planned for the next six weeks, but the plan is in place so that I don’t have to think about it anymore. If I need a dinner plan, there’s one on my calendar. If I feel like getting creative, I can just move the dinner to another day or simply delete that day’s plan. But having the plan in place means I don’t have to panic at 4pm that I had forgotten to think about dinner.

And that’s why I did it.

Menu Planning Made Simple

simple easy homemade family menu plan

free simple menu planner

Today we start school back up! We homeschool year-round, so we start early in order to take extra weeks off during the year and be finished in May. It’s totally worth it. After all, it’s over 100-degrees here in the afternoon: might as well be doing school instead of playing Minecraft, I figure!

So for this month, I’m trying out a new menu planning idea: I have the same weekly rotation of breakfasts and lunches – and I’ve noted in my calendar when to do the prep. Then on busy days, I’ve prepped the food the day before. I’m looking forward to see if it works; that is, if I actually remember to do the prep ahead when I have it planned out! Of course I’ve already simplified dinner planning quite a bit, but with 4 kids needing lessons plus a toddler, I need food to take as little brain power as possible.

So, here’s the eating plan for this week:

Breakfasts This Week

  • Monday: Sunday leftovers with scrambled eggs
  • Tuesdays & Thursdays: German pancakes
  • Wednesdays & Fridays: simple homemade granola with homemade yogurt
  • Saturday: Daddy-made pancakes
  • Sunday: whole wheat cinnamon rolls (made on Saturday)

Lunches This Week

  • Monday: cheesy potatoes
  • Tuesday: quick artisan bread, cheese, fruit & veggies
  • Wednesday: leftover bread from Tuesday, cheese slices, pepperoni, fruit & veggies
  • Thursday: rice with carrots & peas, topped with butter or cheese, watermelon
  • Friday: microwave nachos with refried beans

Dinners This Week

Simplified Dinners eBook

  • Monday: grilled balsamic chicken, salad, garlic toasts
  • Tuesday: chicken fajitas with the fixings, cucumber salad (’tis the season)
  • Wednesday: chicken & cheese pasta salad, watermelon
  • Thursday: “bits & pieces” – leftovers, cheese, veggies, etc. all in cubes
  • Friday: fried rice
  • Saturday: hamburgers

Recipes for dinners on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, & Thursday are found in my ebook, Simplified Dinners. Streamline menu planning, grocery shopping, and dinner cooking with Simplified Dinners!

Simplified Pantry

Simplified Pantry promotes homestyle cooking with basic ingredients. It is possible to cook good food without a pantry full of specialized products. Limits can actually be freeing and promote creativity. Limits make keeping what you need on hand simpler and easier to achieve. Simplified Dinners takes the thinking out of the whole dinner cycle of planning, shopping, and cooking, and makes it easy for you to customize the healthy, whole-food recipes provided according to your family’s tastes.

a low-effort menu plan

simple easy homemade family menu plan

<img src=”http://www.simplifiedpantry.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/menuplan.jpg” alt=”menuplan” width=“300″>

This is the last push to finish out our homeschool year. Next week is testing, then we get a 6 week break! I am really looking forward to that break, so I tried to keep this week’s menu plan extra simple and low-effort.

Also, we’re starting to harvest strawberries, raspberries, lettuce, and peas from our garden. I love the fresh produce, but it does take time to care for the plants, to harvest, and to wash everything adequately. So, it’ll be best if the other components of our meals are easier; that way we can enjoy the season of spring harvesting!

Breakfasts This Week

  • Weekdays: simple homemade granola with yogurt and berries from our garden!
  • Saturday: Daddy-made pancakes
  • Sunday: vanilla scones with strawberries and whipped cream

Lunches This Week

  • whole wheat rolls, cheese cubes, and apples
  • cheese melted on chips with fruit
  • leftovers when possible

Dinners This Week

Simplified Dinners eBook

  • grilled chicken, grilled flatbread, salad
  • crockpot pulled pork on leftover flatbreads
  • pork chalupas, glazed carrots, coleslaw
  • tuna patties, garlic noodles, and coleslaw
  • no-mess pizza, salad
  • hamburgers, oven fries

Streamline menu planning, grocery shopping, and dinner cooking with Simplified Dinners!


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