Tip Number Five is coming a little late today! It's been kind of a long day, and I just realized that I forgot to post today!
So I am posting now...at 10:16 p.m.
Tip Number 5 is to make a menu plan for August!
This has been something that I have aspired to do every single August since I became a teacher. And yet...I have never completely followed through.
I have always made a menu, yes.
But that menu has not included freezer meals (ever) and it usually has only included a few crockpot meals. The rest of the month is usually filled with meals that are (number 1) a little too involved and time-consuming and (number 2) not something I want to mess with cooking during the first few weeks of school, even if they're fairly simple.
Therefore, in the past several Augusts, I have failed on the whole "mom & wife who cooks for her family every night" role. Again. As usual.
But not this year, by golly!!!
This year, I have a plan. And I know how to use it.
So here's how it's working.
I made a list of our 10 favorite standby meals that are easy to prepare.
My August menu is really the only one that I don't plan using the store ads or my pantry & freezer inventory. I just go for easy to prepare. Plain and simple.
For us, this month, our list includes: spaghetti, taco salad, crescent roll pizza wrap, Mexican lasagna, hamburgers, barbecued chicken, chicken & noodles, pot roast, breakfast, & meatloaf.
Of course, we've got other standby meals, but these are the ones the girls helped me come up with.
On our menu, we'll use each home standby meal twice.
We'll also add to these meals a few "eat out" meals and some "leftover" nights.
Grab your August calendar (hopefully you know right where to find it in your Home Command Center!).
This should include all activities for the month of August...school functions, church events, social activities...
Now...what I did for my menu was fill in my "eat out" boxes first. These were a few nights that we had social plans with friends and already knew we would be eating out. I also always grab a pizza on the way home from school on the first day...a celebration of sorts. :) My Dad and husband both have August birthdays, so I plan on eating out for their birthday one Saturday night.
Next, I add leftovers on Sunday nights. It's nice to empty the fridge of leftovers on Sunday night and start fresh each week.
After eating out days and leftover days are filled, I start adding in the homemade meals.
I start with crockpot meals. These are for days that I know, for one reason or another, we'll be a little late getting home. Maybe I have a staff meeting after school, maybe the girls have dance, maybe I know I will need to stay a little later and do some lesson plans...whatever the reason, an already prepared crockpot meal is (hopefully) going to stop me from doing the ol' drive-through routine.
After the crockpot meals are filled in, I start adding meals that I can prepare that night (usually with meat already browned on the weekend and a few other preparations done...). I add these meals in to the nights that we seem to be pretty "free". My plan this year is to prepare TWO batches and freeze one for use later in the month. So as I added the meals for me to prepare that night, I added the freezer meal in a few weeks later.
Using this method, you should be able to fill in the whole month of August (I actually go up to Labor Day and plan my September menu while I'm off school that weekend!).
Make a grocery list!
After I had my meals planned out, I went through and listed every single ingredient that I would need to eat the entire month.
Then I went through my pantry and freezer and checked off the items I already had in our house.
I took whatever was left and put it in order (on a new list...all that scratching things off and rewriting them really bugs me!!!) of the store where I usually shop.
On the way home from school Tuesday, my plan is to stop and grab it all so I am done for the month and can focus on getting my classroom ready, sending my preschooler and kindergartener off to school, and feeding my family!
So there's my process. Now here's your challenge. Fill up your August calendar with meals! You will feel sooooo good being prepared and cooking for your family!