I don’t have very many “mom hacks” to offer the world.  In fact, I often tend to make things more difficult than they need to be or should be.

I dunno why.

It’s just how I roll.

So yeah… it’s quite possible probable that this will be the ONLY “Mom Hack Monday” I have to offer to you, my grace-giving friends, and unfortunately, my “hack”?  It’s not anything near the realm of “fresh” or “new” or even “innovative”.  But whatever.  It’s working for our family, so maybe it’s worth sharing.

May I present…

The Weekly Menu

weekly menu 1

Told ya.  Not new.  But fairly new to us.

A variety of meals, all planned ahead of time, all shopped for ahead of time, all within view of the 4 who constantly ask, “what’s for dinner”.

Constantly = about a million times a day.

Here’s how this has helped in practical ways for us.

Budget – when I have a list to shop from, the grocery budget is lower.  I spend what I need to spend for our family, not more on random things.  We are also eating out less overall because I don’t have to think about what to make that day and resort to, “agghhh… let’s just order pizza!”  more frequently than I should.

Less waste – because every meal is pre-planned, we are wasting less food.  Those zucchinis you just KNEW you would bake into a delicious healthy side… you know… the ones that are now covered in a fine layer of white mold?  Yep.  That happens less because I’m not buying the zucchini unless it’s on the menu.

Weekly menu 2

Less whining – even if it’s something they’re not really a fan of, knowing what is for dinner ahead of time has magically cut back on the whining.  Maybe it’s because they have a chance to prep themselves for the horror of “sugar snap peas”, but it has been working.  I will take it.

Less stress (for me)– That moment at 5:00pm when you realize you have ZERO idea what to do for dinner?  Those moments are gone.  I look at the menu in the morning, defrost anything that needs to be defrosted, make ahead anything that can be made ahead, and when MY 5pm rolls around, I’m feeling pretty good these days (about dinner, that is).  Let’s be honest, those hours between 4-6pm can be the most challenging in the day.  Kids are tired, mama is getting there, dad’s not home yet… I’m not alone here. I know I’m not.  Why NOT do something to de-fuse the situation?

Less stress (for kids) – Kids like to know what’s coming next.  This is even more true for kids who have come from hard places.  Miss Julianne?  She greatly appreciates structure and knowing what’s happening next on the agenda.  This has helped the big kids, because they know they can find info quickly, and it has helped her, because even though she cannot read, she has a visual of what is to come.

Healthier eating – Hubs and I have each gained a *few* pounds over the course of this past year.  So, we need to eat better.  A lot better, actually.  This plan allows for the splurge to occur, but also keeps us much better in balance overall.  At the same time, it’s good for the kids.  I don’t pretend to be a nutritionist, and there are some meals in which the “something green” is definitely missing, but that’s okay.  Baby steps, y’all.  Baby steps.

weekly menu 3

We’ve only been at this menu planning thing for two weeks, and already I can tell it’s a “hack” that will be around for a while.  Having the menu posted in a place the kids can access has granted them more responsibility in that they know they can find out what is for dinner, without having to ask mama the same question every two minutes for a two hour time period during the day.

It’s bliss.  Bliss, I say.

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