There are a lot of ways to plan menus and I have probably tried them all. I’m currently using a less conventional method and thought I’d share. First, let’s start with the traditional:

I found the value of menu planning when our children were grade school-age. Between homeschooling and running an in home family child care, our kitchen got a work out! I knew I would have to get the food under control because, at one time, kids were grazing all day long. I got really good at planning each meal and snack for the entire week. We trained our own children to follow the menu for meals and snacks throughout the day, then I would make our family dinner.

One week, I wasn’t feeling well over the weekend and I didn’t get the menu made out. Monday came and our son looked very puzzled around lunch time. I asked what was the matter and he mentioned there was no menu. He said, “I don’t know how to eat.” LOL. I threw a menu together and he was on his way.

Years later, we are empty nesters and it’s much different. My husband eats differently than I do and we, most of the time, cook for ourselves. I don’t really write down meals for us, but I still need a plan for the hungry toddlers I care for. I’ve tried it without a plan, but it seems to go so much better with a general idea of what to serve. Especially with my preferred method of preparing lunch. First thing in the morning I get lunch out of the freezer and put it in my mini crock pots–it’s thawed, and heated through by lunch time.

I have tried writing out detailed menus, but get frustrated because I end up switching things around due to schedules or my mood, menu items get eaten before they’re assigned day to be served and then what?, I may have a lot of leftover something that needs to be used so I substitute that, or items on sale at the store don’t line up with what I had planned.

A few months ago, I decided to try something different–Generalized Rotating Menus. I made three menus that I rotate each week with a main dish I can build around. So I plan the main dish of lunch, then I can build around it depending on what I have on-hand.

Here are the menus I made with this Meal Chart Generator — Thanks LotsOfKids.com!



Pamm’s House
Week of: 1
Day
Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Mon. Cheese & Crackers Hot Dogs Animal Crackers
Tue. Cheese Breakfast Saltines
Wed. Toast Burritos Ritz Crackers
Thurs. Cracker Packs Cheeseburger Muffins Graham Crackers
Fri. Muffins Pamm’s Choice Animal Crackers


Pamm’s House
Week of: 2
Day
Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Mon. English Muffins Meatballs Graham Crackers
Tue. Cracker Packs Chicken & Rice Ritz Crackers
Wed. String Cheese Taco Cups or Taco Skillet Animal Crackers
Thurs. Cereal Mac ‘N Cheese Saltines
Fri. Muffins Pamm’s Choice Animal Crackers



Pamm’s House
Week of: 3
Day
Breakfast
Lunch
Snack
Mon. Cheese & Crackers Breakfast Ritz Crackers
Tue. Cereal Quesadilla Saltines
Wed. Toast Meatballs Oyster Crackers
Thurs. Cheese & Crackers Chicken or Tuna Saltines
Fri. Muffins Pamm’s Choice Animal Crackers


Chart Courtesy of Lotsofkids.com

I did modify the charts–where it says “Snack” it did say “Dinner” When I printed it out, I whited out the “Dinner” and penned-in “Snack”. Also, it says “Breakfast” but it’s more like a morning snack. I figured the label didn’t matter so much. It has “Saturday” and “Sunday” but I left those blank.

Lunch is the most important thing I’ve planned. In the menu above, on Monday Lunch it says “Breakfast”. The meal isn’t set in stone, but it gives me a direction to work off of. I could serve the toddlers eggs, sausage, Breakfast In A Muffin, hash browns, pancakes, waffles, Potato Biscuits, fruit salad, or whatever seems like breakfast to me and whatever I have on-hand or am in the mood to make.

On Thursday, I have “Chicken or Tuna”. This would be some chicken and rice dish I had made up or tuna salad or any other thing I have on-hand. I don’t serve tuna often, so I decided to give myself a choice for that day.

Each Friday I put “Pamm’s Choice”. Almost always we have something leftover that would make a great toddler meal. I didn’t want to feel so locked-in and this has helped to have just one day with no set plan. Actually, the plan is so lose, I don’t feel guilty or unorganized when I do stray from the menu.

I follow the Child and Adult Food Program Meal Patterns, so when I build off the menus I make sure for Lunches I have:

Milk
Meat or Meat Alternate
Bread or Grain
2 Fruit/Vegetables

And for snacks I have two items, each from a different category. If there are not two items listed, I add milk or juice to the snack.

So for a few months these menus have been very successful for me. It’s not really a menu, but more of an idea to work off of.

This post is being linked to:

Menu Samples Of Low-Fat, Low-Cholesterol Diets on Foodista

Share/Save/Bookmark