Last weekend, Ty and I and Creed attended a homeschool conference and left the other children in the care of Ty’s mom. We were gone 2 nights and 2 days, and I wanted to make it as easy on Grammy as possible.
Now I need to disclose something here. Being this organized for others is pretty new to me. I struggle terribly when it comes to planning ahead, but I was recently inspired by another mom of many who planned and prepared a whole week’s worth of menus, of which I reaped the benefits. I considered the plan she put in place and realized it wasn’t as difficult as I believed it to be. So, this past weekend, I decided to try my hand at it, and boy, was my mother-in-law appreciative!
Today, I’m sharing this success with you which will hopefully give you the confidence and encouragement you need to successfully plan meals for others
Consider How Many People You Will Be Feeding
Since we only took 1 child who doesn’t eat big people food anyway and replaced ourselves with another adult, I could make the same amount of food I usually make and be fine. But, had I been taking more children with me or had more people been eating, I would need to adjust accordingly.
Brainstorm Simple Meals
Don’t try something new or extravagant. You are not trying to impress others with your culinary skills. You are doing this to feed them and make things easier for them. Think about simple meals that can be easily thrown together from the components you provide. Also, consider what the people you are cooking for like and any food allergies they might have.
Here are the meals I chose:
Pancakes (from Homemade Pancake Mix)
Sandwiches (meat & cheese, pb&j)
Spaghetti (the meat was precooked and the spaghetti sauce was store-bought), Frozen corn, French Bread
Bierocks (made ahead of time and frozen), Frozen peas
You can also plan snacks, which is something I didn’t do because I knew Grammy would bring plenty of that kind of thing. Cookies are a really simple snack/dessert that freeze and keep well.
Some other simple meal ideas are:
Peanut butter/Banana toast (these are easy to put together with ingredients that keep well)
Baked oatmeal (put together, but don’t bake, and leave in refrigerator)
Breakfast Casserole (most of these can be frozen)
Taco salad (shred your lettuce and have the meat and beans precooked and mixed)
Quesadillas (these freeze well, but are also easy for even young children to make)
Sloppy Joes (have the meat precooked and seasoned, freezes well)
Crockpot Hamburgers (idea taken from Tricia at Hodgepodge)
Soup (easily frozen!)
Chili (again, easily frozen)
Lasagna (yep, easily frozen)
Grocery Shop Based on Menu
As I plan my menu, I take note of what I already have on hand and what I need to buy. I make my list and head to the store.
Prepare Anything You Can Make Ahead
I baked several loaves of bread and fried up all the meat needed for the meals and froze in individual ziplock bags. I made the bierocks and froze them, and put together the baking mix. Anything you can do ahead of time and combine to make prep easier, do it!
Create and Label
I wrote out a menu for each day and wrote next to the meals where the components could be found. So, for the spaghetti, I wrote:
Dinner: Spaghetti & sauce (pantry), Frozen corn (freezer 1), French bread (fridge 2)
We have 2 refrigerators and 3 freezers, so I wanted to take the guesswork out of where I had stashed everything. Also, remember to label all food with baking, cooking, and/or assembling instructions.
Explain Your Menu to Caretaker
If possible, explain either in person or on paper the system behind your menu. Give them any extra instructions they need to know and put it in the simplest terms.
Planning and preparing meals like this works for a variety of situations. It really is a simple way to bless those who are taking care of others and could use a break!