Cooking for a large family can seem daunting and at times overwhelming. As a wife and/or mother, the day to day chores, errands and appointments can become monotonously boring which can make us unmotivated and even fed up with cooking.
However, if you plan your day along the meals for either the week or a month ~ cooking can be easier and even enjoyable.
How many of you are "what is for dinner tonight" cooks? Do you open the fridge and/or freezer after school pick up or even an hour before meal times? Do you spend 10 minutes (of precious ~ but wasted time) staring into the abyss trying to plan your evening meal in the space of 1 hour or less?
Perhaps by the time you have worked out what you are making, you end up throwing something bland and dull together and maybe wish you had just ordered takeaway!
The above can be avoided if you plan ahead. One way to begin is to have a Meal Menu Planner. Imagine this Laminated Menu Planner below is stuck to your fridge door. All you need to do is use a white board marker, write down your meal & dessert (if desired) on the day of the week.
The children will find it enjoyable as they gaze at the menu you have planned for the week. (Perhaps the husband too ~ though mine is not home during the week to enjoy our family meals).
If you are a weekly shopper, this Laminated Menu Planner would be very helpful. By planning your meals weekly, purchasing meat and veg can be made easier as food is purchased according to your menu planner.
Recently I changed from doing a weekly menu to a monthly menu as I have the freezer and pantry space to shop accordingly. My meals (along with appointments) go onto my large family sized calendar/organiser ~ see here. If I have something particular on a day where I wont be home to prepare my evening meal, I make sure I allocate a meal to that day that is easy, eg a crock-pot meal (which can be done quickly of a morning) or something pre-made that has been frozen ~ Lasagne.
Of course things can change from day to day too (as does with a busy household and lots of kids), however having the whole month planned, it's easy to just swap a meal around here and there on the calendar. Every thing I need is in the freezer and pantry after all.
If you still seem overwhelmed; here are some simple tips on getting the home in order.
When preparing your evening meal. Don't leave it to the last minute as I mentioned above. Make sure the meat (or prepared frozen meal) is taken out the night or day before and thawed. Some crock-pot meals can also be prepared in the crock-pot and put in the fridge the night before too. Hence all that is needed is inserting the bowl and switching on the machine first thing in the morning.
Prepare your evening meal mid morning or around lunch time. This way there is only one clean up time during the day after cooking. I tend to do our family meals as soon as I get home from the school drop off in the morning.
So take a look at my CUISINE page; all the meals I make for my family are easy to prepare and can be made earlier in the day. Some dishes go in the fridge, while others sit on my stove top ready and waiting for the afternoon/evening rush hours.
It is near impossible to cook dinner during this chaotic period of the day when you have tend to 6 (out of the 7) children's homework, questions, pleas of hunger, sulking, fighting, crying arguing....etc.
Seriously who wants too cook under these conditions? If there is a show of hands and some of you nodded to this question; then meal planning is definitely for you.