Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Power of the Menu Plan

You know, I kept hearing people raving about how wonderful a menu plan is. My response has been characterized by: Uh huh. Whatever. I'll get to it one day. How great can it really be?

There's POWER in the menu plan. Amaaaaaazing power. I'm in awe. And I've only been at it for two days.

There are two powerful aspects of the menu plan that I've experienced so far. (My experience is very limited and there may be many more that I haven't discovered yet.) The first power operates on me. I can look at my simple list located on the frig and know what's happening. So simple and yet so profound! I'm not hunting down recipes an hour before dinner is supposed to be ready, wondering what on earth I'm going to do with the leftover ham. I know! I don't have to think about what I'm feeding the kids for snack. I know! It's so freeing! I have a different breakfast planned for each day. I'm using that butternut squash that's been sitting in the pantry for 3 weeks. I'm using the quinoa I've had in there for forever too!

This was all planned around food I already had in the house. No shopping or even last minute runs. If I didn't have exactly what I wanted, I substituted. My ham and potato casserole turned into a Ham and Sweet Potato casserole. (There's a lot of ham in our menu this week due to wanting to use all our leftovers from baking a spiral sliced ham on the weekend.)

The second power to be noticed was the one that was exerted over the children. Ahhhhh. This is something I've never seen mentioned in the accolades of the menu plan. This is a big secret. Are you ready?

If it's on the menu plan, that's what we eat.

No arguments, no griping. A simple "I'm sorry. Cookies aren't on the plan. It says we have to eat carrots for snack this morning." AND THEY DO IT! No kidding! They may say "ooohhhhh, I wanted something else" but it doesn't change the fact that we follow the plan. I think Pooh will even start reading the plan himself soon. He's kind looking there when I say "hmmmm, it says we're having waffles for breakfast". Pooh is also the child more willing to try foods and will at least partially eat things even when he isn't crazy about them. Go figure!!!

I'm not making two separate sandwiches for lunch. "Today is ham, tomorrow is tuna." I was amazed at how fast they ate. The only thing that didn't go over well was the Crockpot Oatmeal. That's because they both dislike oatmeal. I told them they needed to learn to like it. :D Today they had French Toast Casserole for the first time ever and gobbled it up. They ate the butternut squash. The quinoa was a bit iffy and so was the ham casserole on Tuesday's dinner. BUT, they're trying it and they are eating more than they would have if I hadn't done a menu plan.

So I consider this a success. Now I just have to keep it up. Consistency has never been my strong suit.

For those that wish to know, I'm including my plan for this week. It's only a M-F plan. Also, the meals are listed in this order: Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, Snack, Dinner. They usually have another snack before bed, but I didn't include that one because it's never an issue.

Crockpot Oatmeal
Cheese n Crackers
Mac n Cheese
Delicata Delish (allrecipes)

French Toast Casserole
Ham Sandwich
Ham & Potato Casserole (with broccoli)

Pb crackers
Tuna sandwich
Split Pea Soup

Eggs & Bacon
Mac n Cheese
Pasta and roasted root veggies

Hot Cereal
Hot Dogs


live4evermom said...

I know some who do this all the time and I have wanted to do it too but never got around to it. I'm going to try now.

Cindy said...

I have no idea why I find menu planning so hard. There IS power in it - and the weeks that I choose to actually make a menu plan are SO much smoother.

I think there's some sort of force that keeps me from sitting down each weekend and writing it out! ;)

HornGullyFarm said...

Menu plans are wonderful! They also help me to not buy odd-ball groceries that sit in the pantry forever. I like your idea of posting it on the fridge for all to see to eliminate whinning -I always thought of it as a mommy tool and I wasn't sharing! It also reminds me that if I want muffins as a snack option, I actually have to bake them. LOL
Here is an idea your might try also...when I do the plan instead of listing each day with a breakfast/snack, I give a list of available/approved brkfst/snck to choose from. Lunches and Suppers are listed by day.
PS- AWESOME job on the beds! They look better than store-bought.