Are meals just getting to be too much these days?
An article caught my eye on the Deep Roots at Home Facebook page: ‘The Grocery Industry Confronts a New Problem: Only 10% of Americans Love Cooking‘
Facebook commentors on the thread said they loved to cook meals, but many more felt challenged by the planning, clean up and the feeling of being underappreciated for doing it.
I’m Bethany Brinegar, a stay-at-home and homeschooling mama of seven, so I know full well how crazy and busy days can get.
I’ve had days where a cup of water gets spilled all over the floor and I think “well, at least there is a clean spot on my floor now.” While I’m cleaning that up or instructing someone to clean it up, someone else starts crying because they have fallen and cut their lip.
I move on to comforting the crying child and cleaning up blood, when I realize the baby is leaking out of his diaper. And then even worse, I realize I hadn’t made another batch of wipes yet and I’m down to three left in the ziplock bag!! GAH!! I end up putting the baby in the shower, because that’s the next best thing to using wipes (and way easier in my book since they will play for a while in the shower).
Then, I realize it’s 4:45 PM, and I haven’t even *thought* about dinner. Oh. My. Word.
Yes. I’ve had many of those days. Probably way more than I want to think about. My poor husband, though. He is very understanding, and it never bothers him.
Even when we were first married, I planned our meals, made thoughtful grocery lists, and worked hard to stay in my budget.
Planning Meals for A Growing Family
As our family grew I had to get better at making meals, find creative ways to save money while still eating as healthy as we could.
I’ve done weekly meal planning and shopping. Doing it twice a month. And monthly. Currently we are doing it monthly. I actually tried to go back to shopping twice a month…..and I couldn’t figure out how to do it! ha!
Probably sounds crazy, but I’ve been shopping monthly for several years now and it works really well….so why I tried to change it, I don’t know. 😀
We have kids in 8th, 3rd, 1st, and Kindergarten. A 4-year old who loves to be involved for short periods. A 2-year old who loves to be held, be a pest, try to help the older kids do their work and generally be all over the place. And a 1-year old who likes to eat everything in sight, be held and to nurse.
I love homeschooling, but, oh my! My one room school house can resemble a zoo some days!
Staying On Top Of Meals With K.I.S.S.
Trying to find ways to keep on top of meals became a challenge for me. I kept searching for new ways to improve my daily schedule and find ways to get meals on the table on time without pulling my hair out every day. Since I didn’t like the idea of being bald…..I finally figured it out.
You’ve heard the old acronym K.I.S.S. – “Keep It Simple, Stupid”? I prefer Keep It Simple, Sunshine or Keep it Simple, Sister, but yeah.
That phrase kept going through my head.
And I did just that.
I chose seven breakfasts and then assigned one to each day of the week, thinking through the day and what would work best. Wednesdays are full days with school and our church’s Prayer Meeting that night, so I assigned Overnight Oats for that morning.
Sundays, I want us to eat something really filling to last us through till a late lunch, so we have eggs for Sunday breakfast.
Once I chose a week’s worth of breakfasts, I was done. It stays the same the entire month.
Lunches I did the same.
I chose six lunch ideas (Sunday is more of a Dinner for Lunch) and then assigned them each a day.
I keep lunch really, really simple around here. If rice is on the menu for lunch that day, I start it right after I finish cleaning up from breakfast so its ready to go and I don’t have to stop in the middle of school to work on lunch. If its potatoes, I’ll start them before we start school and just cook them at a lower temp or put them in the crock pot. Otherwise, it takes about ten minutes to put lunch on plates.
Now for dinner I wanted to change it up and not have it be quite as predictable. But it really is predictable. Its just pretending its not.
Every Tuesday we have a Taco Bar, Wednesdays are Baked Potatoes, and Saturdays we have Breakfast for Dinner. For that we do something more fun like pancakes, fruit, sausage and eggs.
The other nights I choose budget-friendly meals that are still simple to make. Those meals are usually repeated twice in the month.
After simplifying my menu and making it work for me even more, I have soooo much more freedom!
Once I clean up from breakfast, start any lunch items that are needed and set dinner’s meat to thaw out, I don’t have to think about it again until 11:15am or so, when its time to start getting lunch on the table.
Then I’m free again until 3:30pm or 4pm when I start making dinner. But I don’t have to think about what to make.
Its all written down on my menu.
Don’t get me wrong! I still have days where nothing seems to go as planned, where I’m thrown about a million curveballs (or dirty diapers or fights or counseling sessions with children or…..) and dinner comes around and I’m all “um……well……we are having some sort of eggs for dinner I guess…..”
It happens. And its okay!
But I love that most days cooking and getting fun, yummy, healthy, and budget-friendly meals on the table is a JOY!
And I’m not pulling my hair out and going bald doing it!!! Yay for me!
I’m always interested to see what other mama’s meal plans look like, so I thought I’d share mine.
We rarely do snacks, but if we do, its leftover popcorn from lunch, grapes or an apple. Or sometimes I’ll share a piece of fudge I made. But just one piece! ha
October 2017 Breakfast Menu
Sunday – Eggs (your choice) and Leftover Overnight Oats
Monday – Box Cereal
Tuesday – Yogurt Parfaits
Wednesday – Overnight Oats
Thursday – Scrambled Eggs & Vanilla Milkshake
Friday – Dutch Babies
Saturday – Overnight Oats
October 2017 Lunch Menu
Monday – Carrots & Dip, Ham Slices, Sliced Cheese, Crackers, Popcorn
Tuesday – Hard Boiled Eggs, Cauliflower, Sliced Cheese, Popcorn
Wednesday – Grapes, Cheese Omelette, 1-2 Cookies
Thursday – Applesauce, Popcorn, Potato Forte (my daughters recipe)
Friday – Crockpot Potatoes, Carrots & Dip
Saturday – Tortilla Chips & Cheese Dip, Rice, Grapes
October 2017 Dinners
Fajita Chicken, Rice, Salad
Taco Bar (every Tuesday)
Baked Potatoes (every Wednesday)
Skinless Chicken Rice Dish
Twice Baked Potatoes, Salad
Breakfast for Dinner (every Saturday)
Spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce, Garlic Bread
Chicken Alfredo, Rice
Beef Stew over Egg Noodles
Dad’s Homemade Pasta
Taco Soup over Egg Noodles
A few other simple foods to remember are: avocados (or add salsa for guacamole), sweet potatoes, an Instant Pot of stew or roast (just throw it in and cook), bake butternut squash (nothing added), egg-in-the-basket, carrots and hummus, celery or apples with almond butter…
Hi! I’m Bethany and I’ve been married to my best friend for 15 years now and we have been blessed with 7 children, ages 13 down to almost 1. I’m a stay at home, homeschooling mama, who loves the challenge of managing a home, cooking, teaching, and most importantly raising warriors for Christ. I also enjoy making things from scratch, learning about and using home remedies, playing the piano, reading, and being outside when its Fall.
Thanks for reading!