Busy moms and especially homeschooling moms need strategies to streamline kitchen work. Proverbs 31:27 talks about this: “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”
One of the most frustrating situations for Mom is when she doesn’t know what to prepare for a meal and spends time wracking her brain for ideas with nothing coming together. Schedule for the following suggestions, and you will eliminate the emotional drain of indecision and also gain valuable time for other endeavors.
“She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens” (Proverbs 31:15). I imagine that a woman who gets up while it is still dark to prepare food for the day knew what she was going to make. Her plan allowed her to get to her work early.
Schedule Planning Time
Schedule time each week for meal planning and populating a grocery list. You could start with 1 hour a week and back down to 1/2 hour with experience and speed. Plan to grocery shop weekly and have your planning time the day of shopping or the day before.
Begin with three master meal lists: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The easiest way to do this is to simply write down—track—each unique meal you eat as you eat it. Your master list will grow itself. You can also write from memory meals your family eats and enjoys. From the master meal list, you can quickly choose meals without dealing with empty brain and without eating the same meal every other night.
Standardized Weekly Menus
I suggest a standardized weekly breakfast and lunch menu. That doesn’t require any decisions after the initial plan is developed, and all you have to do is check the food supply to see what you need to purchase to have enough for those meals that week. Pick favorites from your master breakfast and lunch meals that are simple and nutritious. Change the standardized menu up every couple of months or stick to it, if everyone is satisfied with it.
S – Egg casserole
M – Yogurt, granola, fruit
T – Oatmeal, fruit
W – Pancakes, fruit
Th – Muffins and eggs
F – Yogurt, granola, fruit
S – Oatmeal, fruit
S – Quesadillas
M – Sandwiches
T – Soup
W – Leftovers
Th – Sandwiches
F – Soup
S – Leftovers
Themed Weekly Menus
For dinners, you could have a theme or a meal for some nights plus nights left open to be determined from your master dinner meal list when you meal plan. For example:
M – Beef
T – Chicken
W – Meatless
Th – Mexican
F – Homemade Pizza
If you want to take the planning further, add your side dishes on the menu.
There is nothing binding about the menu. You always have the flexibility and choice to do something different. Having the plan, however, directs meals and allows you to be efficient in the kitchen. You don’t eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every lunch because you can’t think of anything else to eat or don’t have what you need for anything else. You don’t spend the morning trying to decide what to have for dinner. You don’t run to the store because you decide to have something you are missing ingredients for. If you post your menu for the family and stick to it, you won’t have to tell every family member what’s for dinner since you forestall their questions.
I loved the ease my master meal lists, standardized and themed meal plans, plus weekly meal planning and grocery shopping brought to my full homeschooling lifestyle. I think you will benefit from it as well.
For our downloadable shopping lists, see this link.
For meal planning ideas, see this popular blog post Simple Ideas for Homeschool Moms, and make sure to read the comments too!