Disclaimer: I have not received any compensations for writing this post. All views and opinions expressed are my own.
Good morning everyone! I am going to have two posts a day (for most days) until I complete the FlyLady BabySteps, so here’s this evening’s post.
I’d like to share with you the book that has single-handedly made my monthly meal planning faster and easier.
The author of this book lives in Iowa. My mother in law has family who lives in Iowa, and she met the author and decided to purchase a copy of her book. Several years ago, I was perusing my MIL’s cookbooks and came across this book. I liked it so much that my MIL bought me my own copy.
The bulk of the book is divided into 13 weeks worth of menus. Each week has 5 complete dinners planned, a snack for that week, and a dessert. A lot of people comment on the fact that only 5 meals are planned, but Rachel explains that she only lists 5 for each week to cover 4 evenings and a Sunday dinner at home. The remaining days of the week can be left open for other options, and oftentimes in my family, we end up with leftovers, so those help cover the other days of the week as well.
The book also contains several appendices to provide ideas for other things as well. The appendices included are:
- Breakfasts and Lunches
- Eating from the Garden
- Special Events and Holidays
- Starting Out Right in the Kitchen
- Quick Tips and Resourceful Ideas
- Bread, Pie Crust, Noodles FROM SCRATCH
- The Family Table
I have found these sections to be very helpful in rounding out my menu planning, and although we haven’t had a garden yet, I plan to put one in our back yard now that we have our own house and enough space to do so.
The layout for each week is the same. The first page is a simple list of the 5 meals for that week, along with the Snack and Dessert for the week. Each meal is complete with a main dish and 1-2 side dishes.
The next page is a grocery list for the week. If your family eats all the meals exactly as planned, there’s no need to make a list, because it’s already there. However, if you’re like my family, adjustments may need to be made, but that’s easily done.
During my prior use of the book, I have found a few meals that I know my family doesn’t like as much as the others. (Don’t get me wrong, they would be tasty to some families — and we have tried some of them — but I’d prefer to stick to the meals that my family enjoys more.)
I came up with a list of 10-12 meals that our family likes to eat, but that were not included in the cookbook. I planned each one to include an entree and a side dish or two, wrote up recipe cards for them, and taped them directly over the meals in the book that I knew we weren’t going to use. So now, I can simply move through the book at my own pace and either start over when I’m done (because this book provides a minimum of 3 months worth of meals) or attempt to plan my own menu after that. The latter tactic has proved difficult and disastrous in the past, but I suppose that could change. For now, it is much simpler and easier to work through this book again and again, especially now that I’ve added some of our family’s favorite meals into the rotation.
Anyway, back to the weekly layout…
After the list of meals and the grocery list, each 2-page spread contains the meal plan for 1 day, along with a suggested schedule of when to start each step of the meal in order to have the food on the table by 6pm. This is one of my favorite features of this book. I am a planner, and I LOVE making schedules and lists, so I would have done this step on my own had it not been included, but I am certain that if I personally knew the author of this book, we’d be kindred spirits based on her minor act of including a schedule for cooking each meal. (The thought of the schedules included makes me smile, so that alone has to tell you something about me. Haha)
But having this task already done for me makes my meal prep time SO much simpler. All I have to do each morning is look at my meal plan for dinner that day, turn to the correct page, and see what time is suggested to start. We currently have dinner around 6:30 instead of 6 because that’s when my husband gets home from work, so I simply adjust the suggested schedule by half an hour and voila, I know exactly what time I need to start making dinner that night.
The weekly snack and dessert are included on one day each, and then the whole thing starts over again for the next week’s menu.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who struggles with meal planning. Even if you only go through the meals once or twice until you have your own meal plans worked out, you’ll still have an easier time planning your menus in the meantime. If you’re interested in having your own copy, you can check out Rachel’s website.