Menu Planning for Homeschool Moms {guest post}

Note from Amy: I met Tiffany King at the Savvy Blogging Summit this year when she handed my her business card during a session and I exclaimed, “I need you!”  It was the name of her website that caught my attention: Eat At Home.  Worn out homeschooling moms everywhere can benefit from Tiffany’s message and her mission to show moms that preparing quick and easy meals doesn’t have to be drudgery and one more thing on their to-do list.  I think you’ll love her new ebook, Feast in 15, where she shows you how easy it is to create spectacular weeknight meals that fit into a busy homeschool mom schedule!  Get your copy today!

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All of us who homeschool have the same demands as other moms. The difference is that we’re with our kids nearly all the time and we’re responsible for teaching them during a large portion of that time. Daily schedules can swing wildly between being at home, to being out of the house all day.

So how do we get meals on the table with so much going on? Here are a few tips:

Focus on dinner

Dinner is often the big meal of the day. (If your big meal is lunch, then adjust this tip accordingly.) If you can get dinner taken care of, the rest seems easy.

Plan with your available cooking time in mind.

  • If you have 10 or 15 minutes in the morning to work on dinner, then a slow cooker meal is in order.
  • If you find time during lunch, you can assemble a casserole or do a slow cooker meal that only needs 4-6 hours of cooking time.
  • A day of appointments and lessons might call for a quick 15 minute meal. See my new eBook, Feast in 15 for lots of good recipes.
  • If it’s one of those rare days when you’ll be home and have time to spare, fix those favorites that take a bit more time.

By looking ahead at your schedule, you can plan your menu with your days in mind. Make the menu fit your family, not the other way around.

Make use of your freezer.

  • Pre-cook meats and freeze them. This keeps meal prep on busy days to a minimum.
  • Make double batches of soups, stews and casseroles and stock your freezer.

Keep ingredients for a few “emergency” meals.

Stock your pantry with the ingredients for a couple of easy meals that you can pull together at the last minute. Knowing you have those recipes to fall back on will keep you from running through the drive through or feeding everyone cereal for dinner (we’ve all been there!).

Breakfast

I may be in the minority on this, but we keep breakfast super simple. Not only that, but each person takes care of their own as soon as they’re old enough. We also tend to eat the same thing, day in and day out. We’re okay with that because lunch and dinner are varied enough to make up for the standard breakfast.

Here are a few ideas for simple breakfasts.

  • Quick oats
  • Yogurt and fruit with granola
  • Toast, English muffins, bagels etc.
  • Freeze large batches of pancakes, waffles or muffins. Heat in toaster or microwave.

Lunch

Again, I keep this as simple as possible. Most days do not lend themselves to actually cooking lunch. And even though we don’t eat the same thing everyday, I do not make any menu plan for lunch. We use lunch to eat up leftovers. Some days there’s enough for all of us. Some days there “dibs” are called on the good food from the night before. Other days, no one wants the leftovers!

When the leftover plan doesn’t cover us all, I fill in with these quick items:

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to cooking for your family?

Tiffany is the founder of Eat at Home, Everyday Food for Busy People. She has also written an eBook, Feast in 15, Speed Cooking Weeknight Dinners that is available as a PDF or on Kindle. She has been married to her husband Jim for 23 years. They have 4 kids, all homeschooled. Their oldest daughter is now in college.

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11 thoughts on “Menu Planning for Homeschool Moms {guest post}

  1. This is a great post! I only focus on dinner too when I meal plan. For breakfast it’s usually cold cereal, oatmeal, scrambled eggs and toast- all that can be made within about 5 minutes or less. Lunches are usually sandwiches, soup or leftovers. And just last night I thought I’d try to do a two- week meal plan, so twice a month we’ll have the same thing. I loved your recipe for the freezer burritos, def. gonna try those!
    Thanks!!

  2. Great post. We do many of the same things. One difference is that we save all of the leftovers for Sunday lunch (there’s usually not much left after each meal, if any). We take it all out and spread it on the kitchen island and everyone gets what they want and whatever isn’t eaten we throw out. It’s almost always just a teeny bit of food that’s left….it works well for us. Lisa~

  3. I used to menu plan just around dinner, but I found we kept running into the same problem: What can we have for snack, Mom?
    Now I menu plan for lunch, dinner, and homemade snacks, so that isn’t a constant problem. (We do very simple breakfasts too.) I actually put it on my yahoo calendar so I remember to make snacks every other day. Granola bars, date bars, monster cookies, etc. I make snacks on the days I’m not making bread. (There’s a yahoo reminder for that too. lol)

  4. I used to just plan a menu, write a grocery list, and go on with life. My latest challenge has been that, with the price of everything going up, I’m having to be more creative, and more careful about buying on sale than I have in the past. We’re also hitting a point (as my kids are getting bigger) that we don’t always have leftovers for lunch. We used to have leftovers almost every day, and that worked great. But it’s harder when there’s only enough for one or two people.

    Thanks for the ideas!

  5. Do you know how freeing the words “focus on dinner” are to me!? lol If I know that dinner is the most important meal of the day and its “okay” to keep breakfast and lunch simple…ahhh, what a relief!

    I’m wanting to break our going out trend! With moving to a new house we ate out a LOT! I’m sick of eating out:)

    Thanks!
    Michelle

    • LOL! I always go back to the idea that not every meal has to be a fanfare 5 course meal. I think about how the Amish will have just cold meals w/ cheeses and meats and preserves and we all look up to them as the epitome of the simple life! Good luck with your “freedom!” ;)

    • My motto is “It doesn’t have to be fancy. Some nights you just have to get them fed.” Even dinner doesn’t need to be elaborate. No one ever suffered from an occasional dinner of milk and muffins. Ask me how I know ;) And if you do have a regular “bigger” meal at dinner, you can easily have simple lunch and breakfast.

  6. As a 8 year veteran homeschool mom, I just realized how important it is for our family to have a breakfast, lunch and dinner plan. I was having children come down for breakfast and spend 20 minutes just deciding what to eat. This has taken the guess work out of what to eat, and has really helped with grocery shopping. The added bonus is, the three older children have assigned breakfast mornings, so that is off my plate(no pun intended:) Just FYI, we keep the same breakfast and lunch plan and have a biweekly dinner plan. My hubby likes variety at dinner! We keep the plan on a spreadsheet on the fridge so everyone can see it.
    Kim Crawford