Planning Your Family’s Dinner Menu

by Melanie Edwards on April 26, 2010 · 24 comments

in Wahm,Working Mothers

Dinner Table

This post was first published on January 23, 2009. At that time, I was still working full-time outside the home. I’ve found that planning a dinner menu is beneficial for anyone, though.

As a working mother, I need shortcuts wherever I can get them.

Dinner is often a challenge for us busy moms, and this holds true for me as well.

I work 8 hours a day outside the home, which leaves a small window in the evening for me to pick up baby girl, spend some time with her (don’t forget time with the husband also!), and cook dinner. Some days I wish dinner was just sitting there waiting for me; I mean, I get hungry too!

So, I take shortcuts. I try my best to plan ahead, both by planning a monthly menu and by cooking ahead if I can.

This week has been a particularly good week for us when it comes to dinner. I’ve actually stuck with our planned menu and have not ordered out.

Sample One Week Dinner Menu

Now, I don’t pretend that this is the healthiest menu, but we are eating and the food is home-made. I’m not spending money on take-out and it’s manageable for our busy schedule. It works.

  1. Sunday: Turkey Chili – I cooked this in my new slow cooker and didn’t have to do much with it once it was started, which allowed for me to work on other things around the house.
  2. Monday: Ground Beef & White Rice – I was off on Monday for the MLK holiday, so I was able to cook from scratch. The ground beef is cooked with tomato sauce/paste (think of picadillo) and I made extra meat for later in the week. The white rice I cooked in a rice cooker, but you could easily take your own shortcut by using Minute Rice. And if you wanted to be extra healthy, you could substitute with brown rice. (There’s shortcuts for brown rice too!)
  3. Tuesday: Leftovers - I had a dental appointment after work on Tuesday, so I got home later than normal. Luckily, we had plenty of chili and some white rice leftover. Voila! Dinner served.
  4. Wednesday: Tacos with Knorr Rice Sides pack – I used the extra ground beef I cooked on Monday to make tacos. All I had to do was chop up some lettuce and tomatoes, warm up the tortillas, and assemble. I made a pack of Knorr Rice Sides Chicken as a side dish.
  5. Thursday: Chicken Fettucine Alfredo – Sounds fancy, huh? This dish is *full* of shortcuts. I buy a bag of chicken cutlets, which don’t really require defrosting. I use a box of Fettucine pasta and a can of Ragu Classic Alfredo sauce. (What, you thought I made my own?) Since, the chicken doesn’t need defrosting, I just put it in the pan as soon as I get home. I usually add a can of peas & carrots to the chicken when I add the alfredo sauce. Serve over the fettucine.
  6. Friday: Hot dogs & Fries – Fridays are our slack days. So, we normally eat something very easy. This week, we’ll be making some hot dogs and baking some fries in the oven.
  7. Saturday: Pork Chops with Yellow Rice – Since it’s Saturday, I should theoretically have more time to cook. You can cook pork chops however you’d like: in the oven, on the stove or on the grill. Yellow rice is one of my favorites. It’s easy to cook and you can add whatever you like to it, making for many delicious variations. I’ll be making rice with corn this week, but sometimes I use beans or other vegetables. Shortcuts for yellow rice can be found via Goya, if you’d like.

You can see that the recurring theme is to use shortcuts to create quick and easy meals for your family.

How do you manage your weekly dinner menu as a busy mom?

[top photo source]

Picadillo Image via Wikipedia

Calendar Image via SugarcubeDesign

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sra. López April 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm

I plan weekly menus but I don't know if I'm talented enough to do a whole month! … Planning ahead definitely saves time and money though. My husband won't eat leftovers unless they've been “re-invented”, so one of my favorite tricks is to cook something like pollo asado for one meal and use the leftovers in burritos or Chinese-style rice the next day.

Reply

2 modernmami April 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm

No leftovers? We LOVE leftovers and often feel some food tastes better on
the second day. Ja! But, re-purposing food is a great trick and one I like
to do as well.

Reply

3 Dariela April 28, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Oh I love to plan ahead when I can. I do like to cook from scratch but I end up doing it only 3 times a week at the most the other days are leftovers, ready to eat meals (which I don't like to do as much but I try to buy the organic ones), shortcut meals (like the one you described is perfect!) or we do something reaaaally easy like sandwiches. I usually plan 2 weeks at a time and I do it in my google calendar where I set it up to repeat every 2 months so I don't have to think so much again, only when it's different season!

Reply

4 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 5:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don't like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu.

I also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn't think about repeating it every 2 months. That's a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

5 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don’t like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu. nnI also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn’t think about repeating it every 2 months. That’s a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

6 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don’t like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu. nnI also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn’t think about repeating it every 2 months. That’s a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

7 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don’t like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu. nnI also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn’t think about repeating it every 2 months. That’s a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

8 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don’t like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu. nnI also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn’t think about repeating it every 2 months. That’s a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

9 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don’t like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu. nnI also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn’t think about repeating it every 2 months. That’s a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

10 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don’t like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu. nnI also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn’t think about repeating it every 2 months. That’s a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

11 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don’t like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu. nnI also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn’t think about repeating it every 2 months. That’s a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

12 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don’t like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu. nnI also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn’t think about repeating it every 2 months. That’s a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

13 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don’t like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu. nnI also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn’t think about repeating it every 2 months. That’s a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

14 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don’t like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu. nnI also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn’t think about repeating it every 2 months. That’s a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

15 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don’t like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu. nnI also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn’t think about repeating it every 2 months. That’s a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

16 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don’t like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu. nnI also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn’t think about repeating it every 2 months. That’s a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

17 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don’t like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu. nnI also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn’t think about repeating it every 2 months. That’s a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

18 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don’t like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu. nnI also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn’t think about repeating it every 2 months. That’s a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

19 modernmami May 3, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I use a lot of shortcuts, and sometimes ready to eat meals as well. Like you, I don't like to use them too much. Leftover nights are a life saver. And, now that you mention it…I need to add a sandwich night to my menu.

I also try to do 2 weeks at a time, but didn't think about repeating it every 2 months. That's a good idea and good way to space it out.

Reply

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