Last month, I shared that I was trying something new (well, sort of retro, actually) with my menu planning: Theme Days. After sticking with it for a month, I can report that it worked out really, really well, so we’re doing it again in July.
If you missed it, basically we assign a “theme” to each day of the week, and then instead of planning out the whole month with specific dishes, I just have ingredients on hand that work for those themes.
Sunday – BBQ (usually burgers or dogs, but for DS’ birthday, we upgraded to steak! + sides)
Monday – Pasta
Tuesday – Mexican
Wednesday – Stir-fry (thanks to it being CSA-pick-up day)
Thursday – Pizza night
Friday – “Meat” (LOL – I’m still working through a stockpile of briskets and chickens left-over from Passover)
Saturday – If we’re home for lunch, we have deli + my favorite gazpacho
We got mixed up a few days and had to deviate from or switch up the themes, but overall, I found that meal time went a lot more smoothly in June than in previous months.
The two great things about menu planning for my family are (1) that we save a ton of money doing it (see why here and here) and (2) that it makes my life run sooooo much happier when I don’t have to scramble for dinner ideas at 5 p.m.
But even though I had been planning out specific meals and shopping from a list, I still often found myself having to run out at the last minute to pick up an ingredient – or just scrapping the plan altogether and making something else. Either way, it meant meal time was not stress-free.
Now, I just have to keep the basic ingredients on hand for each of my theme days and I’m all set. Plus I have the flexibility to make the meal as simple or as involved as I want. On a day when I have a lot of other things going on, I can make a box of pasta, a jar of sauce (or homemade sauce from the freezer) and some steamed veggies. If I have a bit more time and energy, I can make spinach stuffed shells. And if I really feel like being nice to my 5 year-old, I can whip up a tuna casserole with homemade cream of mushroom sauce.
This week, we switched Sunday and Monday, so we could enjoy a cook-out on the 4th of July. But here’s what our menu for the week looks like:
- Sunday – lasagna (freezer), garlic bread (freezer) and tossed salad
- Monday – Cook-out at my parent’s for 4th of July / DS’ birthday
- Tuesday – bean and rice burritos
- Wednesday – tofu stir-fry with rice
- Thursday – pizza night (trying a new crust recipe, thanks Katie!)
- Friday – chicken soup (freezer), BBQ chicken, roasted potatoes with sage and thyme (from our herb garden), and sauteed broccolini (from our CSA) with balsamic vinaigrette
- Shabbat lunch – OUT at friends!
Did you try theme menu planning last month? How did it work for you? What were your themes?
Please share your menus (themed or otherwise) in the comments section. Or, if you have blogged about your menu plan, please link up with the Mr. Linky.