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Keeping Their Bellies Full

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*Or: Menu Planning Revisited


It seems that no matter what great ‘system’  I have for any given household task,    I find myself needing to revisit and revamp it as our family grows and circumstances change.    A few months ago it was the meal planning that was in dire need of a work over.   I was spending two hours or more a week planning our menu and grocery list.   Then another two hours shopping.    It was becoming one of my most dreaded tasks,  which is a real shame because I thoroughly enjoy cooking.

My prayer was answered one day while visiting a meal planning thread on the Real Learning message boards.     I visited E-mealz and browsed the sample menus over and over again.  Even if it was only $1.25 per week,  I wanted to be sure it would suit our family.    Finally about a month ago,  I bit the bullet and subscribed.

It is set up so that when you subscribe,  you choose which market you want your menu and grocery lists based on.    I chose ALDI since it is the place I frequent most often.  There is also an ‘any store’ option.     Each week I log in and print out my weekly menu and grocery list.  From there I add it to our Family Kitchen Binder and tweak the recipes as I see fit.  It was noted in the Real Learning thread that it seemed to suggest a lot of convenience foods,  which I generally like to avoid.     I have been able to tweak these suggestions with my own ideas or use what was suggested,   only the homemade version.  (Such as mac & cheese or rice pilaf…)    This gives me a very good backbone of a weekly dinner menu,  which has been a mental life saver for me.

I still have breakfast and lunch to come up with.    I have created rotation menus for these meals,  which takes a lot of the brain work out if it each week.

I leave a day or two open each week for our own ideas and creations.  My daughter loves to cook and often asks to plan a day of meals.  I also like to flex my creative muscles in this way once in a while.    Overall though,  this has been working very well for us.  I no longer have to find that chunk of time in my week to whip up a menu,  I only have to spend a few minutes tweaking their suggestions.    I keep notes on the recipes also,  so we remember those dishes we really enjoyed and toss out those we did not.  (which has only been one so far!)


About Lisbet

We are a Catholic homeschooling family of 13. (so far!) We are devoted to our Lord and our faith, open to the blessings of children, and enjoy learning and growing together in our joyfully chaotic home.

3 responses »

  1. Lisa:

    I have often thought that we mothers should network by keeping a monthly log of what we serve our families and then swap our logs. You would think we would have an abundance of meal ideas to choose from and many ideas to (hopefully) improve our own way of doing things or get out of ruts as the case may be. Of course, in some instances it may also require sharing recipes. I for one am deeply in need of improving our family’s nutrition through avoiding “convenience foods”!

  2. I find meal planning to be a real challenge also — and there are just a few in my home. I find 5 o’clock panic even worse though, so I try to form a plan. I am glad that you found something that works for your family. I am going to investigate it. I WILL conquer this problem!!

    I am so glad to see you posting again. God bless you and your lovely family.

  3. So glad to hear that you are using e-mealz. I have been using it for 4 years and it truly is the best thing that has happened to my dinner table and my budget. The recipes are easy to follow and that is necessary if I am going to use it. I have two children and they love what I am cooking from e-mealz. It is a must have at our house 🙂


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