Menu Planning {Week 1}

In an effort to be a better mommy during the late-afternoon hours, I've been inspired to spend a few minutes each Sunday making a menu for the week and then sticking to it! My friend Alice is my inspiration; she's over-achieving again! {Queue Chicago's delightful song "You're The Inspiration" now.}

Having meals together as a family is top priority for me. No compromise. I simply flat-out refuse to run the rat race and miss out on quality time around the table. We're intentional. We're counter-cultural in this way. Perhaps we're a bit weird about it but I'm okay with that. We're regular, very regular, about sitting around our kitchen table, with home-cooked food. My floors might be dirty {um, they are dirty} and I would seldom pass the white glove test. But, family meals we do.

However, here's where I fail. There aren't many nights that I don't have something homemade on the table, BUT, how it gets there and the frustration level I have is another story. It goes down like this. 

We get home from school around 3pm ish ... we hang out, do whatever until around 4pm ish. And then I panic and realize I don't have a clue what we're having for supper. And so I race into the kitchen, figure something out, thaw it in the micro, mix and mash and squish into a casserole dish, trying frantically to pull it together. 

In the meantime, the kids are asking me questions or fighting or whatever and I keep putting them off saying, in an irritated voice, "I will help you when I'm done getting this in the oven. I have to get our supper going. Stop fighting. Get along. GO TO YOUR ROOMS!!!" Or something like that, or worse. And then their little frustration levels rise because they haven't seen me all day and here I am, too busy for them now ...

It's just not a calm, peaceful, gentle environment. And I desperately want calm, peaceful and gentle.

And you know who sets the tone for calm, peaceful and gentle? Mama.

And so if I'm being brutally honest, a lot of the stress that the 3-6pm hour brings is brought on by none other than myself.

And that needs to change. I firmly believe that sometimes our desperation leads us to change.

Back to Alice. Alice is that life-long friend that I don't see enough, but when we do see each other we sort of skip over the casual chit chat and jump right to the deep stuff. The life stuff. The struggle stuff. And so before we knew it, we were talking about our struggles being patient with children {or at least I was admitting to this} and before I knew it she was sharing this little nugget of truth that had revolutionized her parenting career. 

The concept of meal planning. Ahead of time. Novel idea if you ask me!

And so, Alice and I met on Friday and I promised her that on Sunday I would give it a go and that she could email to keep me accountable on it, because we all know I work best when someone else is helping me make good changes.

So Sunday afternoon I did it. I made out my first menu. And I also asked the question on facebook, "Send me your favorite one or two crock pot recipes" and we're now well over 50 recipes and climbing. {Leave a comment on this post if you want a copy of the document I'm creating with all these yummy recipes.}

I pulled out every cookbook and recipe card and magazine-clipped recipe and dumped them all on our love seat. I grabbed a Diet Coke {who are we kidding - this was a 2 Diet Coke project} and I began.

And honestly, within about 2o minutes I found great, easy recipes. And so, without further adieu, here's my menu for the week. Not that you really care, but if it inspires you to do the same, and saves you some time coming up with some ideas, I'll share mine.

Maybe together we can help each other improve in whatever areas we need improvement. One of my many is planning meals ahead of time. So I'm making the choice to do it. Today. This week. 2012.

Week One
Monday - Almond chicken, rice, green beans
Tuesday - crock pot roast, mashed potatoes, peas, corn
Wednesday - chicken wild rice soup, bread {and I actually bought yeast for the first time since living in Indonesia, and am going to try making homemade bread in America. That might stop immediately after week one, because they do sell bread, already made, but I'm going to give it a valiant effort. I feel like showing Martha Stewart up this week. She's got nothin' on us.}
Thursday - Pizza pasta {making 2, one to freeze}, salad
Friday - Clark Cafeteria night {stole this one from Alice - aka, leftovers}
Saturday - free night, hoping the hubby might take me out for supper or order in Chinese
Sunday lunch - Salsa chicken in the crock

And there you have it. I have a great start on Week Two's menu, too, because I just kept finding little hidden recipes that seem like they'll be tasty. Each week I'm going to try to pick one of the meals to actually double the recipe so that I can freeze one casserole/dish and then cook the other one. We'll see how that goes.

So here it is, almost time to go get the kiddies from school and I know what I'm cooking for supper tonight. Get outta here!!!! I can hardly stand it I'm so excited.

And tomorrow, the "Friends of Facebook Favorite Crocker Recipes" will be ready to send your way. Let me know, on my facebook page or here, if you want a copy.

Here's to a healthier, more peaceful, calm and gentle year! We ARE going to be better versions of ourselves by the end of this year. I just KNOW it!


Mae said…
Way to go!!!! I'm looking forward to getting the recipes.
Sara said…
You described exactly how I felt a week ago n thus I have every meal ready this week! Next week a diff story but I do have a bit of motivation for sanity. Cheers to us!
Cleary said…
Yep, males things way easier. And because Hate the meal planning process I've declared ( for the past 7 or so years) that Friday night is always pizza night. Often I make it, but sometimes we order it; either way I never have to think about Friday's dinner. Just that one day that is always decided helps me. And a side note, growing up we had "must-go" nights! That was the night everything must go, ie leftovers!
Alice said…
I'm laughing because I so do not recognize myself in this post!! So not an over-achiever! But once you do this Sunday meal plan thing, it does become a habit. And, a super key thing here, you realize that to be together in one area, you can let another area go--aka, laundry, I am looking at you.

And...I will tell you this--for 16 years I made that same statement you did about bread: until I began using that recipe I gave you and also the one my mom gave me (I can send that one to you). Now, I make all our bread and would never go back to that high fructose corn syrup store-bought stuff. NOTHING more fulfilling than your house smelling like fresh-baked bread and pulling three loaves of it out of the oven (two to freeze). It's SO easy! Why haven't I been doing this for years?!? :-)

You go, girl!!!
pinsandneedles said…
I still hate meal planning and for that matter cooking. I would love a copy of your crock pot recipes. Thanks, Dawn
Jen Mong said…
I'm with your friend, Dawn. But I have to say that you and Alice inspired me (again) and I, too, made a weekly meal plan. Now we'll see what happens. I did give myself grace and we're going to get something out on Friday. Thanks, my friends.
Julie Kittredge said…
Rock on Alysa!! Here's to 2012 - it's gonna be a GREAT year! :)

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