Recently, a friend was asking for tips on menu planning. Well, I thought I'd share on my blog what I shared with her. At one time, I planned my menu on "theme nights". I had Italian, Mexican, Seafood, Vegetarian, Soup and Sandwich, then Fried Chicken or something like that for Sunday or whatever day on the weekend was my day off.
I also sent her some links to check out. A recent post on Women Living Well was also on menu planning, very similar to the way I used to menu plan. A post of the Heart of the Matter shares a book review, but includes some good ideas for menu planning. If you sign up for Molly Green's Econobuster's E-newsletter, you get a free Menu Planning e-book! Home Made Simple had a good article for beginners menu planning.
I also shared some time friendly and kid-friendly recipe sites. I may have shared this one before, but I love the Crockpot365 site. She has been on Rachel Ray, and also had a cook book published. Her recipes are usually those that you throw everything in the pot and let it cook. Those are the kind of crock pot recipes I like. She also converts regular recipes to crock pot recipes. She reviews the recipe and has her own kids try them. She really inspired me to use my crock pot more! All Recipes is another good site; you can search under "kid- friendly". One of my favorite sites is Kraft, for family friendly recipes!
I really like menu planning pages. You can always use a piece of paper, but a cute menu planning page is a lot of fun to use. Donna Young has some cute ones. The Homeschooling Helper has a very practical one. My favorite ones are at the Organized Home, including my very favorite one that is a menu planner and a shopping list all in one.
The way I do menu planning right now, Thomas and I usually sit down together on Sunday after lunch and plan out his meals (because I fix his lunch stuff and have it in the fridge to put in his lunch box in the morning). Then, just recently, the kids & I have started to sit down (when Daddy's done) and plan our meals during the week. I usually let everyone take a turn picking an evening meal. Friday night or Sunday is usually a special meal, because I have more time to cook. Wednesday night is a crock pot meal.
Thomas' favorite crock pot meal is what we call "Crock pot Chicken". The meal is so simple. In the morning, I put frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a 3 quart crock pot with two cans of cream of mushroom soup (no water) on low (they usually cook between 6 and 8 hours. In a 4 quart crock pot I put potatoes, like bake potatoes; I got that recipe from the Crockpot365. Then, in a 2 quart crock pot, I put two regular sized cans of green beans with two tablespoons of butter on high.
I also like to make those on Sunday, so we can have lunch ready as soon as we get home. One Sunday, I did frozen meatballs and sauce in a crock pot while we were at church, and then cooked spaghetti and garlic bread (because those take under 10 minutes) when we got home. We had a salad on the side. That was a great idea! No one was starving by the time we got lunch on the table.