My husband comes home at the same time just about every day and I like to have dinner on the way so we can eat, clean up and get to our family time together for the evening. Having dinner pre-planned makes it so much easier; especially on the odd day when I get home later. My husband knows what is on the menu so he can pinch-hit for me or I can rearrange the order and know that the ingredients we have for the week are at hand. I have not yet attempted the 30 days of freezer meals or making a menu for the month. That intimidates me and I'm not sure I want to plan that far ahead!
I researched what other moms were doing, typically those who run households of 5 or more because they know efficiency and that is what I really wanted, to run this household like a Toyota factory! Ha! (pipe dream) I read an idea that resonated with me. It was to sit with my family and list our favorite meals, including sides. With this list, I sit down on Sunday afternoon with the family and talk about the weeks menu. I use what we have on hand, and with our list of meals in about 5-10 minutes we have the weeks menu planned. I then assess what items we need to purchase and write them down on our grocery list to either get that day or sometime in the week before we need it. As a result, our dinners are planned and our grocery bill is not as high since we are not buying things we don't need. If thinking about cooking 5-7 meals intimidates you, make it a formula! Many times for us, If I cook Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday is either a leftover night or breakfast night. We like to do soup and sandwich night and I like making something fun on Fridays, usually pizza. We also often have a take out/ go out night as well. I normally plan just 4 meals on the weekdays and 1 weekend meal. If mealtimes are frustrating for you, try this for a few weeks. I think you will find it takes the stress out of this part of your day and soon you will find a better rhythm for your family evenings.
Click the button to download my weekly meal planner. Print it each week, laminate it or put it in a plastic sleeve and use a dry erase marker on it. Whatever you fancy. I hope it helps you!