I had a little routine going this past school tear for menu planning; it helped me to no end.
One thing I've learned is that streamlining one basic part of each meal (i.e the main starch, for instance) really simplifies things. I only worried about rolls on Monday; every other night had the starch built-in. I could buy whatever meat was on sale or use up stuff in the freezer--it all goes with any given starch. I did my grocery shopping on Wednesdays, so sandwich night happened on the night when we had fresh lunch meat AND I didn't have to do any major cooking (meaning I could spend my time prepping and putting away groceries instead). Think through your schedule before you make up a food routine; routines should serve YOU rather than the other way around.
Another example from my family: it's traditional to have a big meal on Sunday after church; we get home so late that that's not been practical with young children. So we have our big meal on Monday and eat something simple for Sunday lunches--remember, your routine should serve YOU.
Here's what we had going on this past school year:
- Sunday: leftovers, soup/salad
- Monday: Meat + three
- Tuesday: Tortilla night (wraps, quesadillas, burritos, etc.)
- Wednesday (class night for Mommy): Sandwich night (and lunches were made at the same time for Thurs; a HUGE help since I had class this night)
- Thursday (class night for Mommy): Pasta night (hot or cold, Italian/Asian/what have you--it was noodle-based)
- Friday: Beans, Bean, They're Good for Your Heart...
- Saturday: Quick and Easy
It worked well, and we're going to keep something similar this summer. Here's the summer plan, so far:
- Sunday: Lunch--quick and easy/leftovers; Dinner--Dad's in charge!*
- Monday: Meat + three
- Tuesday: Kid-Night*
- Wednesday: Ethnic Night
- Thursday: (CSA pick-up day!) Sandwich night (our CSA pick-up is RIGHT before dinner; not much cooking time here, nor will I know what I have to work with)
- Friday: Farmer's Market Special (we'll see what we can make with what we picked up the night before; I'm anticipating this will be a lot of stir-fry, other veggie-heavy meals, or big entree salads)
- Saturday: (grocery day) Stir fry or big entree salad (depends on what we ate Friday night!)
*We're going to have weekly rotating jobs; the kitchen helper for the week is going to help plan the menu for Kid night.... I'm expecting lots of hot dogs, mac-n-cheese, and quesadillas☺. Both Dad and the kid-helper will have to decide by Friday night what they're making; otherwise, they'll be limited to "what's on hand."
Come fall, I'll have class on Wednesday and Thursday night; CSA pick-ups will continue on through October. So, I don't expect the above routine will change too much until our CSA is done.