Family Meal Time Help: Put it on the calendar

From time to time, I get questions related to menu planning.  Most often, the questions are from busy moms who really want to cook but have a jam packed calendar and think there’s no time for it.  They often tell me how bad they feel eating out all the time but they struggle trying to get it all done.   When these conversations happen, I try to ease their stress with a few tips that help.

It starts with a plan.  Not the kind that is written in stone…just a plan.  A guide.  A little help to get people headed in the direction they say they want to go.  Being flexible with the plan is key to success.  If there’s no idea of what’s for dinner by afternoon time, it’s highly likely the family will be eating out or having to fend for themselves.  Which is sometimes a very good thing.

But for those who want to do a little more cooking, start with a blank piece of paper, your calendar and an apron.

On the blank piece of paper, make a list of 10-12 categories of foods.  Something like this:

Then on your calendar, count 7 days from today (or the day you do this) and write in one of the categories for each day. The reason for starting this 7 days out is to give yourself time to get ready.  Time to gather recipes if needed, make a grocery list, wrap your head around any questions and find the answers, etc.

Skip a day that you know you will not be home or anywhere near able to cook…probably Fridays would be the day for most folks.  Especially during football season.  Here’s an example of a menu calendar template: (if it’s too small to see, just click on it and it will enlarge)

On the template, feel free to make it your own by just putting 2-3 categories a week and leaving more room for leftovers, eating out, etc.  Do whatever it takes to help you ease into your comfort zone.  Don’t think you have to cook every single night; 7 days a week.  For most with super busy schedules, that’s not realistic.

Another idea I love to suggest is, if you have kid’s old enough to cook by themselves, by all means, let them have one night a week in the kitchen.   That is a win-win for everyone!

Once you reach a comfort level and would like to add a category or two, here are few ideas:

Ethnic Food

Iron Chef Night

Batch Cooking

Seafood Sunday

5 ingredients or less

Oh, and don’t forget to wear an apron! You’ll keep your clothes clean and you’ll look cute for your man!  Another win-win!  You know what they say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach 😉

I hope this helps!  Feel free to email or reply with any questions or maybe tips and tricks you have that helps feed your family well!

Happy Cooking,


This entry was posted on Monday, September 26, 2011 at 10:21 pm and is filled under Cook Learn Grow.

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  1. emilybenoit says:
    September 27, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    Very nice! I recently went through this struggle in my own head. So, for the past three weeks I have been doing nothing but cooking on Sundays. I make at least three meals to put up for the week. So far, so good! I always thank my past self when I get home from a long day at work. It feels so much better to feed my kids a home cooked meal.

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