It is almost that time again…BACK TO SCHOOL, which means planning meals for the family.
P.S. This works for everyone – even if you don’t have kids going to school or even have kids!  Keep reading…
Most of us fall into one of these two categories; either your kid(s) are going back to school or you are sending off one of your adult babies to college.  Even if you don’t fall into that category the lazy days of summer are about over and the flashing yellow lights and school buses are about to come out of hibernation!
As the new year starts so do extracurricular activities, teacher meetings, vacations and holidays.  The best way to get a strong start in the new school year (or anytime of the year) is to have a schedule that works for you and your family! How many of you struggle with your running around does not always line up with eating the meal you planned for at home?  Or how many of you meal plan and then realize that what you planned will not work in your schedule for that day.  So that meal becomes leftovers and you end up spending double grabbing a quick bite.
That is why I started working my household planning a little different.  My style of planning will cover not only your appointments but also your meal planning.  Our time and our money are the only things we have the most control over so it is important to maximize them.
Key Steps to a successful Family Calendar and Meal Plan
1. On a calendar write down everyone’s schedule for the week
(School, extra curricular activities, hair appts, doctor appts, even sleep overs!)
2. Mark off drive time for the above appointments.
3. Take a look at that schedule and determine if your meals will need to be:
     Gourmet- you have plenty of time to make a meal at home
     Easy Meal – this would be a crockpot meal, sandwich or something that is just a couple of steps.  Also, brown bag meal
     Eat Out – this would be either a sit down or drive through meal.
4. Mark on the calendar what type of meals you will make for BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER.  Either gourmet, easy or eat out.  I personally always start with dinner then move to lunch, then breakfast last.  Breakfast and lunch are easier to figure out because psychologically we don’t expect as much for those meals.  But after working a long day, regardless of what you do, dinner is the one that we look forward to the most and have the highest expectation.
5. Next, you will go through your cabinet, freezer and fridge to see what you have as the starts for the above meals.  Make your list of what you have.
6. Finally, take the list you have and start making your meals based on Gourmet, easy, or eat out.
What you have when you are finished:
A. A clear visual of your household’s schedule for the week.
B. The key information you need to start your grocery list
C. Every meal planned out – YIPPY!
D. Total peace knowing that you are going into your week prepared.
E. A grocery list that keeps you from over spending!
Everyone’s calendar will look a little different but the key for a smooth transition from the lazy days of summer to the dog days of school is to create your family calendar then do your meal planning around your schedule!