How to Do Easy Menu Planning for the Homeschool Mama

Homeschool menu planning doesn’t have to be difficult.

Nutritious, family-acceptable fare is what you’re going for.

I began menu planning when I was a little girl. (Kid you not.) I thought hamburgers were a weekly necessity, so I created an alphabetic list for them.

A for apple burgers, B for breakfast burgers, and C for carrot burgers. (Yikes. Good thing I didn’t use that one.)
And I’ve been doing that for forty years. (Yikes, is it really forty years? Dang, yes it is!)

So let’s chat homeschool menu planning for your family.

As a mom, I’ve written extensive monthly menu plans, weekly menu plans, specific recipes, and grocery lists attached to those menu plans.

At times, I have also forgotten to pull frozen things from the freezer in the morning and realized, at the last minute, that I’ll be in town over dinnertime. At times, I had a lot of leftovers in the fridge and didn’t need to make another meal and just reheated (which, seriously, is a mom’s daily grateful moment: leftovers!)

Organization breeds freedom.

But too much time spent organizing can make a mama crazy too.

Strictly adhering to regimens is not a useful strategy for happy family-making. Just as having a flexible educational plan is helpful, mama’s got to determine a flexible meal plan too.

  • Assume you’re going to individualize your menu plan for your family.
  • Assume you are not locked into any menu plan.
  • Assume you’re going to buy dinner out unexpectedly.
  • Assume you’re going to have more leftovers than you thought some days.
  • Assume you get invited over for dinner (well, after COVID).
  • But train yourself to organize your menu plans with regularity.

Plan in advance for the greatest simplicity.

Plan in advance, and you’re more likely to make healthier choices, you’ll always have ingredients on hand, and you’ll spend less. (When my eldest daughter recently began housesitting, she returned home and expressly thanked me for having a stocked pantry. Jaw drop.)

I’ve found my own rhythm. Every family will find their own too. Since we have children eagerly involved in all sorts of extracurricular activities, we find ourselves in town plenty of days. But I prefer shopping once a week, every Tuesday afternoon.

My weekly plan looks like this:

Consider your best nutritional choices.

Monday Fish night.

I’ve had many dietary tweaking moments over the years. I know I should be eating fish twice a week, and you’d think I would do that being as close to the coast as we are, but I don’t have eager fish eaters. So once a week we eat fish. (Twice a week if I’ve forgotten to pull out meat from the freezer because frozen fish cooks quickly).

Tuesday Chicken night.

Chicken is never difficult to prepare. Just like tofu, you can add pretty much any sauce, create any flavoured meal out of chicken, and they all taste great.

Wednesday Vegetarian night.

Lightening up the pocketbook, and the digestive system, I’ve learned that beans, lentils, and eggs make for less expensive meals, so I always include one of these once a week. I actually prefer lentils and rice for lunch. It is inexpensive and it’s also tasty with curry, easy to prepare and you can prepare plenty of it on Monday so it will last every weekday.

Friday Pizza night.

We like making pizza. We have capable bakers and cooks in this family. So Friday night is usually pizza night. Pouring a glass of wine or pop and listening to cooking shows while we prepare it is a fun Friday night festivity.

Thursday Leftovers night (or optional).

Leftovers are delightful after twenty years of family-making. Assigning one evening for leftovers will be your saving grace. Breaking from routine on the weekend benefits me: to not cook once a week, bravo! and fewer dishes for the kids to wash. Save leftovers all week, freeze them, pull them out for one big buffet. (Or if you’re out for date night, get the kids something from the freezer aisle, just for fun).

Sunday Night fancy night. (Or not.)

Sunday night is optional. We can continue with weekend leisure if we want to make breakfast for supper. (I’m not so eager for pancakes, but my kids sure are). Or make it a fancy meal, crepes with fruit filling, or a meat roast, and invite someone over. A nice roast, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding. (Nothing says I went to a lot of work when Yorkshire puddings come out of the oven.) Sundays are also the night I try to make a fruit pie for my fruit pie-loving husband.

Red meat is necessary for me, at least a couple of times a month. I have tried a cow-free diet, and I wilt, aka I get anemic. I’m clearly a farm girl by genetics. I don’t prefer minced beef but it is easy, inexpensive, and fatty. I’d rather have a solid cut of steak or roast a couple of times a month.

Keep the whole week flexible. If you can happily recreate leftovers for the next night, do that.

People also ask: