Meal Planning and Theme Dinners

I have been running nearly every day and so that has kind of put the kibosh on posting here.  I am working on a long post regarding some things I’m working through with my counselor – namely, false beliefs – but it is going to take more concentration that I can muster at the moment!

So, a post that requires slightly less thinking…

In the past, I have been a meal planner.  The type that makes a list of what we’re going to eat that week, shops for it, and then prepares it (although I never assigned nights for specific meals.)  This worked well for me because if I have a plan, we will eat at home versus eating out.  However, that was long ago and I have fallen out of the habit.

And you know what?  I don’t have the energy to really, seriously meal plan right now.  Homeschool co-ops kind of wreck two of my days each week and we eat at church on Wednesday nights.  I am finding that we are eating out or picking up dinner to bring home WAY too frequently.  It’s to the point that I’m actually sick of restaurant food (and heaven knows what additives) and we’re just spending far too much money.

Yesterday, I picked up a half a cow.  (Butchered and packaged, in case you were wondering.)  We bought one in the spring and split it with friends.  That one was grass-fed and although I could tolerate the ground beef, stew meat, and cubed steaks, anything with any marbling (like my favorite steak – ribeye) had this horrible funk taste.  I could literally TASTE the barnyard in the meat.  It was awful.  And I had a freezer full.  After we finished most of it (we ended up pa10688297_10152782679831215_7420712201149590919_ossing more on to our friends because I couldn’t eat it!), I began researching and discovered that I am not alone in my hatred of grass-fed beef.  So I did some research and discovered a rancher to our north who raises his cows on pasture, avoids antibiotics, etc. but finishes them on GRAIN.  I decided to take my chances and placed my order.  After waiting a few weeks, I got the call this week that it was ready.  I drove to pick it up and was shocked by the volume of meat that I ended up with (the cow was over 1300 lbs live).  I think we ended up with 300ish lbs of beef.  It is all cut into the lovely cuts that I’m used to finding at the grocery store and I got quite a few soup bones as well.  Last night, we ate ribeyes.  They were DELICIOUS.  Flavorful, juicy, tender – and no grass-fed funk!  This makes me very pleased because now all I have to do is go to the freezer and pull out some beef and plan dinner around it.  Yay!  (I still have quite a few chickens from our last butchering and we have 5 roosters up the hill that need to go to freezer camp soon…)

So, back to the subject at hand – meal planning.  I hear stories of families who do “Taco Tuesdays” and “Pizza Night” and I’ve honestly never really considered it before.  However, it occurred to me recently that this would really simplify meal planning!  I can’t see us having the exact same thing every week, but just to have a roadmap of sorts.

So far, I am considering the following:

  • “Family Pizza Night” (likely Saturday)
  • “Church Dinner Night” (Wednesday – I don’t have to cook!)
  • “Mexican Night” (this may be tacos, taco salad, taco soup, enchiladas, a casserole, etc.)
  • “Pasta Night”
  • “Soup or Salad Night”
  • “Reservations Night” (trying to limit dining out to one night per week, and it may be Tuesday – my crazy errand day)
  • “Cook’s Choice” (this may be a new recipe that I’m trying out or a pot roast, etc.)
  • “Leftover Night” (or maybe we’ll keep leftovers for lunches?)

I’m still working on it! 🙂

Do you menu plan?  Does your family do “theme nights” throughout the week?  How do you simplify cooking at home when you have a busy schedule?

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