I've done basic menu rotations for YEARS. They free me up both to think creatively within boundaries and to plan my grocery runs for the basics when times get busy. Before I share this year's cold weather menu rotation, let me share how I plan/what I take into account:
- what day is grocery day?
- which day is busiest?
- which day has the most time?
- which is our early morning?
- dietary needs
- family faves
I'm used more rigid guidelines in the past. One year, I had a starch rotation and that worked well: Monday night was rice night, Tuesday was tortillas, etc. But this is what's working well for us this year with busy school age kids (and hungry boys!) and a busy momma and dad.
Cool Weather Menu Rotation: Breakfasts
All breakfasts have fruit on the side.... My hungry kids also often have some plain yogurt with honey in it as a side. Growing kids are blessings even if they do eat us out of house and home!
- Monday: eggs + starch (toast, biscuits, tortillas, etc.); this is often breakfast burrito day with random leftovers from Saturday night if applicable
- Tuesday: Muffins (from mix or from scratch) + protein (eggs, yogurt, cheese, etc.)
- Wednesday: Oatmeal (my grocery day; even if we're out of milk and eggs, I can still make oatmeal! Also my early morning day, and oatmeal is predictable) + whatever protein I have on hand
- Thursday: eggs + starch (toast, biscuits, etc.)
- Friday: "Fun" Friday (apple pancake, etc.)
- Saturday: whatever...
- Sunday: coffee cake + eggs
Cool Weather Menu Rotation: Dinners
- Monday: Meatless Monday (cliche by now, but it works!)
- Tuesday: Traditional (my extra time afternoon; think: meat and three, chicken pot pie, etc. In other words, this is the main day I cook!)
- Wednesday: Chili and Cornbread (we just rotate chili recipes; many chili recipes are crock pot friendly or can be put in a Dutch oven in the oven at 250 degrees for several hours)
- Thursday: Picnic Night*
- Friday: Family Fun Night: something everyone likes; veggies are often in scant supply on this night. Everything from store bought lasagna to Chicken Bog to apple dumplings makes an appearance.
- Saturday: Burritos or Stir-Fry
- Sunday: varies
*Picnic Night is something I started when I had grad classes in the evening for a few years running: one night a week, we plan ahead for sandwiches, chips, cookies--anything that's quick, easy, and can be made ahead. Lunchmeat, pb&j, tuna, hot dogs, whatever. I keep the little bags of chips on hand for easy portion control, pull out paper plates, etc. It's a kid-pleaser and a boon on the busiest day of the week, especially for those nights when mom is rushing off somewhere and leaving dad in charge of clean-up after his own busy day!