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If it's Monday, it's hamburger.

This whole summer I have felt out of control. Those of you who know me well probably know that this isn't a very good state for me. I don't have to be in control of everything and don't stress about (a lot of) things that simply are not in my control, but I really am much happier if the things that ARE in my control are well-controlled.

I had a major wake-up call a couple of weeks ago, when just for grins, I pulled up our Quicken spreadsheet and clicked on itemize by category. I glanced at the "Dining" category and just about fell over. Seriously, there was no more grinning, and quite a bit of shock at the total. Unbelievable how much money we had been spending on dining out. We went from a family who went out once every couple of weeks to a whole bunch of "I didn't plan anything tonight, so let's just go out."

Bad idea. The thing is - we are on the run a lot, especially during the school year. I was trying to make plans with a friend for a couple of her kids to come over and realized that we are running a LOT.

Mondays - co-op. Tuesdays - piano. Wednesday - church. Thursday - choir. Nothing Friday or Saturday, but usually we either have an extra child or one less child those nights. Sundays - church. With all of the busyness and running, there HAS to be a plan or it's the "we're already out in the car, let's just go to Jason's Deli." (I'm sure I have spoken of my deep deep love for Jason and his deli, right?) So, we're making changes. I want to have the meal situation under control, but still allow for some flexibility too.

Here's what we're trying out.

Breakfast - this has the most flexibility. Kids can choose from whatever we have. I do a big grocery trip every two weeks and buy two boxes of cereal, eggs, and oatmeal. Generally the cereal is gone first and then onto the other stuff.

Lunch - Jim is with us for lunch two or three days a week. On those days, we have hamburgers or chicken nuggets, and usually on Fridays, he makes a pizza or calzone. Other days are sandwiches, soup or ravioli, leftovers, or quesadillas. I think I would love to get an organization system for lunch but other than these options, I don't have it more scheduled. I'm not sure how well it would work, maybe I'll try to implement that soon.

Supper - this is where I have the most planning done. Every two weeks, I plan a menu out and make the grocery list and shop from that menu.

On Mondays that we have co-op, we need a crock pot meal for supper. It needs to be something that Jim can toss in while we're at co-op, before he goes to work. We get home from co-op and have half a day of school, and Jim works late, so Mondays are chaotic, I am worn out, and I need as little meal prep time as possible. On Mondays that we don't have co-op, it's some meal with hamburger. Spaghetti, tacos, lasagna, sloppy joes ... something along those lines.

Tuesdays, Jim also works late. Chick Fil A has their family night with two free kids' meals with every adult meal, so we do that once every two weeks. The next Tuesday is breakfast for supper. Everybody likes that, and it's pretty easy.

Wednesdays, we go to church. (Well - Jim and the kids go regularly. A lot of the time, I stay home. I feel bad doing that sometimes, but I get so little alone and quiet time, and I can have about 2 1/2 hours on Wednesdays if I stay home.) We do plan to eat at church, which I do realize is officially dining out. ;)

Thursdays, the girls have choir. This is a casserole, crock pot, or Jim cook night. Generally it's going to be something quick, and probably chicken. If I ever do the freezer restocking (AFTER hurricane season!) then we'll plan one of those meals for Thursday nights.

Fridays are "try a new recipe" night. I actually enjoy cooking and trying new things. :)

Saturdays are the nights that someone other than me chooses what we're having. This is usually a meat, potato or rice, and vegetable type meal. About half the time, Jim makes it.

Sunday nights the kids have church. Usually this is a crock pot night. I don't work in a church program any longer, but I do attend a Bible study when there is one offered, or do lesson plans if I'm at home. It is very convenient to throw something in the crock pot when we get home from church Sunday morning and then it's ready when the kids get home from church. Usually either Jim or I is at home, so we aren't exactly chained to the crock pot if there is something else that sounds good.

We got serious about this a few weeks ago. The last two week period went very well. No dining out! Then this past weekend came and well ... let's just not talk about that, mmkay? (In our defense - the oldest had a birthday. I took her out for lunch thinking we were making supper for her at home. Then Jim said he thought we were taking her out for supper, and well, who could turn that down? Apparently not me. LOL) In the ... ahem ... two days since then we've done very well. The menu is on the wall and we're following it. :)

So ... if anyone is interested, there are our meal plans. I'm happy to feel like we're taking control over the dining situation, and it's nice to have one less thing to think about.

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