When I was just newly married, I had a mini melt-down over dinner. If you can imagine this: I felt like I didn't ever know what to make (I swear, I couldn't really cook at all!), and I felt like I was letting my husband down by not having those stereotypical wifely skills (as a sub-text, he never made me feel that way, it was just me projecting my own feelings of failure from what I thought I should be able to do).
So, after this melt-down, as was typical for me at this time in my life, I ran. No, I didn't "go for a run", I just literally ran away. Bare feet, no plan, just started running down the rail-trail that was behind our house. Once I was finally exhausted from running away, I sat dow and cried. Then, I picked myself up and went back home.
When I got home my husband was very nice (possibly because he thought I was a touch crazy and maybe afraid of me!), but he said something that changed my life. He asked, "Do you think it would help if we made a menu so that you didn't feel overwhelmed at dinner time thinking of what to make...?".
The answer was YES, that would help me enormously! I started making a menu (that largely consisted of pre-packed meals for lack of any skills on my part, and any real meals that needed being made were done by my husband when he got home, but I would still try to have everything ready for him).
Almost 10 years later, I still use a menu. It helps me with my grocery shopping, saves us money, helps keeps things from staying in our freezer for so long it's frost-bitten and needs throwing out, and most of all, it takes the guess work out of "what's for dinner?" everyday!
Our menus are never filled with elaborate dishes, just what our family considers the usual. I like to try new recipes, and if I do, I will write in that days dinner the website, blog, or magazine I saw it in so that I'm not wondering where I had seen it.
I used to just write the menu out on the left side of a piece of paper, and along the right I would have my grocery list (I find this helpful because not only am I looking at the list, but I have the menu at the grocery store, so if there is a store special, I can look at the menu and see what meal or item I could swap out for the sale). The menu I use now is from here, and I print one off every week (the menu in the picture above). If you want a menu, but the styles in the link above don't suit you, just Google some printable menus, and you will get a plethora (I'm not being serious using that word, I just like it from The Three Amigos) of options. :)
I further the organization on my menu by writing next to each day if my husband is on or off work (he gets back late, so the dinner I made should be good warmed up hours later), if we have plans that night (so I know to make a simple dinner), and I also write what kind of meat I'm using so that we have a variety, usually also including a meat-free night.
If the thought of making a new menu every week scares you, for a few years I was just doing a four week rotation. I made my menus for 4 weeks (not all at once, just as each week came), then on week 5, I went back to the first menu, and did it again.
I have a lot of friends who say they could never do a menu because they're not organized enough. But, those people often don't feel stressed with the "what's for dinner?" question, and that's fine! I would never say that what I was doing was the best way, I'm just saying it's the best for me!
One last thing about using a menu: it's nothing new. In my Dr. Chase book, there is a "Bill of Fare" (pictured above), and it is amazing! Let me share some of the days with you (in case the font in the picture above is too tiny!):
Sunday-Breakfast, beefsteak; dinner, turkey, chicken or other fowl, plenty to leave over, with vegetables, pie or pudding, or both.
Monday-Breakfast, the left-over turkey or fowl, boiled; and for dinner, what is still left over, fricasseed, warmed up or fried with the gravy.
Tuesday-Breakfast, chops of lamb, mutton, veal or pork, as preferred, dinner, beef soup, vegetables and pudding.
You get the gist of this crazy menu from the late 1800's, right! No vegans allowed! :) Dr. Chase does say that beyond this menu, you may also add oatmeal, cracked wheat, more fruits and veggies, coffee and tea.
So, all of this to say I am not reinventing the wheel, I'm just doing something that works for my family, and has worked for families in the past. Don't feel like you're less of a person if you don't do a menu, that really isn't the point! Just do what you need to in order to de-stress your life!
Hi, I'm Amy-Lyn!
I am the lady behind this here blog! I live in the sticks with my animals, my super handsome husband, and my
3 amazing kids!
Here you'll find things from recipes (gluten-free, paleo, and strait up junk food!), DIY ideas, thoughts on raising a son with autism, and whatever else pops into my brain! : )
Read more about me by clicking here!
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