When I started school, it immediately became apparent that meal time was going to be a challenge. First off, 2 nights a week my schedule has me getting home at times that mean Liv has to either start supper or be solely responsible for getting dinner on the table. Secondly, deciding what to fix, what to have on hand & what to buy at the store was consuming a lot of my extra time (which I have precious little of).
So, I decided to sit down & make out 6 weeks worth of menus. I added a section for helping Liv know what she needed to do each night. I added in all our favorites & tried to use one crockpot recipe & one soup recipe each week to keep it mixed up. All together it took me 2-3 hours to come up with 6 weeks of menus.
Obviously, the stress of "what am I gonna fix when I get home" disappeared. However, interestingly, a couple of benefits came from this that I hadn't expected.
1). Getting my grocery list together became extremely easy.
and 2). My grocery bill decreased significantly.
Now, when it's time to get my grocery list together, I go to the kitchen, get next week's menu, pull out any needed recipes for that week, check the cabinet/freezer for what we already & add what we need to my list. Add on the usual milk, cereal, etc. and my grocery list making is done. (These other add-ons are actually kept as a running list on a recently acquired white board in our kitchen - thanks Chad & Sheena! - so all I have to do is copy them over to my paper list, erase the board, & we're ready to start another week! )
Another benefit, is that I'm realizing that we have enough left overs during the week that I'm usually having one extra meal each week left unmade. I either make the meal on the weekend or I put the perishable ingredients in the freezer & plan on using it for a 7th week menu comprised of "left over" meal ideas from weeks 1-6.
It was time consuming to make the menus, but it's been well worth it. I would highly recommend trying this to any family that's busy, wants to save $$$ on their grocery bill or is just sick of the "what's for dinner" stress every day.