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  • Writer's pictureE. Young

Menu Planning: for More Healthy and Less Stressful Lives

Updated: Jun 17

All over the internet, we have read articles on why menu planning is such a good addition to our lives. There are 150 ways that we can plan, shop, save, and execute. Some being very helpful, and others making us feel helpless… I know I’m not alone feeling helpless, and I know, you feel my pain! I, have been one those left feeling helpless and quite inadequate. Until… the light bulb went off. And, how so grateful I am, and my family is, that it did!

All menus are not created equal

First off, we needed to get on a much healthier eating plan. But, getting up in the morning, getting myself, 2 school aged children and an infant dressed and ready to get off to work, school, and baby sitter (before we started homeschooling) was quite a task. Picking up something to eat on the way to the many destinations, always felt easier. Not to mention, many days, we had cereal with no milk. Frozen waffles, with no syrup. So, yes, something definitely, had to change and fast! As if all that conviction wasn’t enough, this was also the time when the child healthy eating awareness movement was taking off with a vengeance.

On my hunt for how to even do this menu thing, I realized…. All menus are not created equal! Everybody has a unique dynamic at home, which requires a unique method. Your family is different than mine, and mine is different than yours. I mean, not too many people these days have 8 kids, 2 dogs, and a hubby love, if you know what I mean! What works for us may not work for you. My point in all this is, not to give up when looking at other peoples perspectives as to what works and what doesn’t. Just get to customizing with what works for you!

We, for one, needed to plan breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner and dessert; once we started homeschooling. You may only need to plan breakfast, packed lunch and dinner. That’s ok! Every menu will not look exactly alike, but they will serve the same purpose, more healthy and less stressful lives!

Pick a format, any format

When we don’t have a plan in place, our days and evenings can become stressful. We are thinking all day about what we are going to cook that night. Wondering do we have to go to the store after work to pick up ingredients for the dish… ultimately leading to unhealthy destructive decisions to pick up something from a drive thru on the way home, or order out once we get home. This way also puts a hurting on our pocketbooks. So the first step is to find a format that works for you. Here on our menu we have to plan every meal. Yet, you could use this as a blueprint for your own menu. Or, you can use this free menu printable and only use certain fields. Why, is this step so important? Because, we need to SEE things to keep the stress away. Just mentally thinking up your menu in your mind will send you back down the stressful day path. Especially, if you end up having a rough day and forgetting that you were suppose to make a salad after work to go with the leftover spaghetti…. “uh, pizza store, I need to place an order please!” The plan, however, almost always keeps the meal planning in order. I say almost always, because there are times that we just want to deviate. But, because we plan, we can afford to do that every once in awhile. Also, because we plan, we are feeding our family a more healthy diet, being that we are not just driving through somewhere 4 out of 5 days a week.

Write a list for all the items on the menu.

I separate our grocery list into fruits, veggies, meats, and other. This way I am not overwhelmed at the store walking all around, backtracking because I forgot something. You know, the stress. Also, this is a great way to save money. When we go to the grocery store with no plan, we just pick up anything. Whatever sounds good for the moment. What we like to eat throughout our week. Then Monday comes and oops… we have nothing at all for the tacos we want to make. Now, we have to go back to the store after just spending $400 on Friday!!! Really, the hard part is over. You made the menu, writing a list for all the ingredients needed, is a breeze.

Lastly pick a day that works best for the whole family, as to when you shop.

I remember my dad calling one Friday after I had just gone grocery shopping. He made the comment that I should shop on Monday, because by me shopping on Friday, all of our food would be gone by Monday with our large family. Hahahaha…. We shared a good laugh. (Actually, I listened to his infamous laugh, and laughed because I just love his laugh… it’s quite infectious.) No, that is too difficult for me, because of school and extra curricular activities with the kids. And, because we have a menu, this food is exactly what I need until next Friday. Very seldom do I have to go back to the store.

Yes, menu planning can sometimes seem like a lot of work, but trust me, once you get a system in place, you will be so glad that you did it! Check out this free menu printable and grocery list printable to help you a little along the way!

Happy Planning!

Be Faithful, Be Free

E. Young

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