I love to cook! HOWEVER, with four children, a husband, a new business and all the other responsibilities each day hands me, I began to dread the idea of making dinner. It wasn’t the actual “cooking” that was the problem—the problem was the “what”.
The truth is that making dinner is not something you can worry about at the last minute, or when it starts to gets dark. At the very least, you need to take something out of the freezer hours beforehand in order to let it defrost. You also need to make sure that you have all of the ingredients you need on hand, or else you run the risk of missing one simple ingredient and having to run out to the store. Most importantly, you need to make sure that the dinner you’re preparing is going to be eaten! Children are notoriously picky eaters, and in my household, choosing a meal that appeals to the entire family can be difficult, especially when I’m trying to come up with something last minute.
I’m definitely what most would consider a “type-A” parent. As my family grew and things got more chaotic, I decided that I was going to write out a dinner menu for the week. This way, I would take the guessing out of what was for dinner each night. What I didn’t realize at the time was that this simple decision would open the door to a world of benefits that come hand-in-hand with meal planning.
No last-minute scrambling- I did not have to scramble each night trying to prepare something last minute. This immediately removed the stress of making dinner every evening.
Kid-Approval- My children enjoyed the predictability of the menu. It is no secret that kids thrive under routines and predictable environments. This posted menu allowed each kid time to absorb what was for dinner, removing the “unknown” that seemed to wipe out the kids’ desire to complain or negotiate over their dinner.
Well-balanced meals- By planning ahead, I was able to be sure that we were all getting a healthy, varied diet on a daily basis. A variety of meats, vegetables and starches were varied throughout the week.
Everyone on the same page- My babysitter loved the food menu. This way she didn’t have to scramble to make dinner, either. She knew exactly what the kids had eaten the night before and wasn’t worried about feeding the kids yet another night of chicken nuggets!
Less waste- The menu allowed me to make the most use of my leftovers and ingredients in the house.
Productive shopping- The menu has made my grocery shopping much more effective. I am buying things I actually need verses heading down each aisle indiscriminately throwing things in my cart.
Family Dinner- As my kids are getting older, we’re shifting towards family dinner each night instead of early dinner and a bath for the little ones and the adults eating later. This also means that we are growing even closer as a family. Currently, we have family dinner about three or four nights a week. This means that the whole family sits down together, says grace together, eats the same meal, and talks about the day’s events with each other. Table manners, dinner conversation and a family togetherness benefit everyone. My kids love looking at the menu to see which nights are family nights!