I'm often surprised to hear mothers say, "Oh, I better figure out dinner, I haven't even thought about it!" How stressful that must be. Why do that to yourself? I meal planned long before I started homeschooling, but didn't appreciate it as much then, as I do now. I think homeschoolers plan more often than others. I see meal plans, chore charts, daily schedules, and more ways to organize space and time on fellow homeschooler's blogs, YouTube videos, Pinterests, and homeschool boards than anywhere else. The tips I have found are endless, and the moms I have learned from have unknowingly changed my life.
Meal planning is a MUST for me! It makes for a more peaceful existence. I love to cook, but I hate grocery shopping. So, I try to get a week's worth of food in one trip. I may need to return halfway through the week to replenish milk or fresh fruit, but for the bulk of it, I do one trip. This is only possible because I plan. I'm often asked by non-meal-planners where to start. Well, I'm NOT and expert. I can only tell you the way I do things, not which is the best way for you or anyone else. My hope is that this helps someone, somewhere...
First, I spend a little time cross referencing my favorite coupon site (they're all the same), with my grocery store's sales. Then I balance that with what is actually healthy-ish choices. From there, a plan is born. I carry a notebook in my car (where I think best) that I fill with recipe ideas, that randomly pop into my head. I'm always wanting to try new things, but I have kids. They prefer a rotation of their favorites, but it balances out somehow.
I plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I do not plan snacks, because I allow the kids to choose. However, I do always have healthy choices on hand, such as homemade granola bars, homemade snack mixes, or fruit and cheese (this too is sometimes homemade). We have a large brunch on Sundays, so we skip lunch, and snack instead, then have a big dinner. Once I have my plan outlined, I make my grocery list by order of aisle. This makes grocery shopping with 3 kids in tow as easy as possible. For an example of what a meal plan looks like, here is this week's meal plan (provided you can read my chicken-scratch):
Do you meal plan? Any tips?