Meatless Monday: The Schedule

Hi! How are we this week? Let’s just act like every thing’s normal (and Michael at least *is* back to normal), and plow on ahead with What Else I am Trying to Keep My Sanity During the School Year.

On my post about the kids’ schedule, there were a couple of food-related suggestions that I am taking under consideration. I’m playing around with a very simplified menu plan. I hate getting to quitting time and wondering what I’m going to give my children for dinner when we get home. I decided that had to make changes in a concrete way.

Here is the (still being tweaked) schedule so far.

Monday: Pasta
Tuesday: Rice/Ethnic (tacos are big)
Wednesday: Brinner OR Mac & Cheese, Veg Baked Beans, and/or Notdogs
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Sandwiches (and Soup, sometimes)
Saturday: Pizza (preferably with homemade crust)
Sunday: Slow Cooker/Comfort Food

Meals are usually a main dish, a protein (beans, nuggets, or the like), and a vegetable and/or salad.

If a child doesn’t want what I am serving, she is welcome to something else, as long as she can make it herself. She has to try at least one bite of dinner first. So far, this has worked out well.

I need to remember to cook more food — my kids are growing, and consuming more, plus I like to have different things to pack in their lunches. In additon, I am counting on having leftovers at least one night (Thursday is CSA pickup night, and we usually don’t get home until nearly 6 p.m.).

I am learning to incorporate tricks and tools into my meal planning as well. For example, my rice steamer has a timer on it. I just put the rice (or other grain) in, pour in the liquid, and set the timer. When we get home, we have the base of our Tuesday meal. On Mondays, I usually boil the pasta in the morning as we’re getting ready. Soup is something I make ahead of time (usually on a Saturday or Sunday), and freeze half of. At this point, I have nearly a month’s worth of soup in my freezer (corn chowder, lentil, and tomato so far)!

Another meal type that will make the rotation, especially as spring and soccer roll around is a cold-type or picnic meal (h/t Kim Z., aka @observacious) that we can eat at the park or soccer field as needed.

Having a general menu plan like this helps me so much. I hate meal planning, and I hate not having a meal plan. Instead of reinventing the wheel every week, this gives me a template to work from. Pasta can be penne with marinara sauce, or tortellini with vegetable balls; Tuesday can be rice with beans or soy crumbles with taco seasoning in burritos. And cooking a lot on the weekends (as happens, depending on our weekend activities) takes a lot of pressure off when soup or leftover night rolls around!

What do you do to make cooking easier for you?