Organizational Tip: Menu Planning Saves Time

Organizational Tip: Menu Planning Saves Time

The following is a guest post from momAgendaCOMM blogger Nicole Feliciano.

Do you feel like you run a restaurant? If you’re a mom it’s likely you are part short order cook, part dietician, and part logistical expert.

Here’s the mission: You’ve got to shop, feed and clean up after your family for 21 meals a week (make that 16 if you feel comfortable going with the school lunch option). Let’s not forget the obesity epidemic–a mom’s got to keep an eye on nutrition. And did I mention the feeding process is also supposed to be fun and a chance for your brood to bond?

Sure, it sounds like Mission Impossible. But we’ve got a few tricks to not only keep the tummies from rumbling, but to also keep mom sane.

Menu planning is not just for Type-A moms. If you find yourself all too frequently reaching for mac ‘n cheese or frozen dinners, the one way to break out of this bad habit is with a game plan. Map out a loose list of what your menus will look like for the week and shop accordingly.

Organize those recipes. Glossy food magazines are one of my favorite ways to dream big when it comes to feeding my family. I dutifully rip out quinoa salads and quiches that are guaranteed (at least that’s what Jamie Oliver says) to get the kids asking for second servings. Rather than slipping all these little pieces of paper into a drawer only to be mangled and ignored, clip them to your shopping list. Once tried and tested, a winning recipe gets scanned into the computer or taped onto a recipe card for future use.

Cook in batches. One prep session can be spread out into two or more meals. For example if you’re roasting a chicken. Super-size the bird you bake on Friday night and save the leftovers for Saturday night fajitas. Same goes for cleaning vegetables and cooking pasta.

Skip the martyr act. Whenever I find myself grumbling that I have to “do all the work around here” (sound familiar ladies?), I grab the nearest idle hands I can find and enlist them into the kitchen army. Even the littlest hands can rinse lettuce leaves and set out napkins.

Mood lifters for grumpy moms. Rather than serving frozen waffles and a frown for dinner, I recharge my batteries a few ways. First, I slip on music that makes me happy and puts a bounce in my step. My guilty pleasure? The Glee soundtrack. Next step: Fire up the laptop and enter in a few ingredients. Both My Recipes and All Recipes are incredible for last-minute inspiration. Type in a key ingredient and see what pops up. These sites also let you tab and track favorite recipes for easy last minute planning. And never discount the value of a cute apron. Not only will it cut back on laundry, it’ll make you feel more June Clever (and I mean that in a good way).

And on the seventh day, God created takeout. Learn to master the fine art of ordering in. Keep a binder of your favorite restaurants that deliver and update the menus. Let one lucky family member pick the spot (perhaps a reward for good behavior–hey, we’re not above bribery). Set the table with some swank colors and use all the time you save NOT slaving away in the kitchen for a round of charades or kick-ball.

Nicole is a member of the Council of Media Moms at momAgenda. She’s the founder and editor of the popular blog Momtrends. You can also find her on Twitter.