Streamlining Mealtime for the Homeschooling Family

This is a post from Sarah Avila of My Joy-filled Life!

“When are we going to eat lunch?”

“What’s for breakfast?”

“We had that yesterday.”

“I don’t want that!”

 

Are these familiar phrases you hear on a daily basis in your home?

They used to be for me, to which I would then think to myself:

 

“I don’t have a plan for lunch.”

“Hmmmmm, breakfast……..”

“We did have that yesterday, didn’t we?”

“Too bad, I’m not making 10 different things!”

I dreaded mealtimes, and mealtimes had become a huge stress and burden on me (and multiply that times 3)!

I needed to make a change…… and FAST!

Streamlining Mealtime

 

Here are some tips and ideas on how to get rid of the mealtime blues and make your mealtimes (and entire day) more enjoyable:

 

  • For breakfast and lunch, eat the same thing on each day of the week. What I mean by this is, every Monday your family will eat the same thing; every Tuesday you will eat the same thing; and so on. This may seem a bit boring, but I have found that my kids really don’t mind; they actually like the predictability of knowing what they will be eating each day. They no longer ask what we are eating that day because they know the schedule; and if they happen to forget (or if I do), the schedule is posted on the fridge. This also makes my grocery shopping much easier too. If you do feel that the same ‘ole thing each weekday will get old for your family, you can be a bit vague with your planning – for example, on Mondays you might have muffins for breakfast; well, there are many different kinds of muffins you can make, so you can change the kind you serve each week. Same thing goes for cereal, oatmeal, sandwiches, or pasta – you get the idea. Another way to get past the drudgery of the same ‘ole thing is to change your menu seasonally, monthly, or every 2-4 months. Here are our weekly breakfast and lunch menus as an example:

Breakfast menu post Lunch menu post

 

  • When it comes to dinners, I’m all for the once-a-month meal planning/shopping tactic. I use a wonderful, editable meal planning calendar, and plan our dinners each month. To make it even easier, I only change the monthly meal plan on a seasonal basis, meaning the July, August, and September monthly menus are the same; the October, November, and December menus are the same; and so on. That means I only have to plan four months worth of menus each year!
  • Another dinner planning idea I have implemented in the past is to have a certain meal category for each day of the week.  For example – Monday is a crock pot meal; Tuesday is Mexican night; Wednesday is soup night; Thursday is a chicken entree; Friday is left overs; Saturday is a pork entree; and Sunday is pasta night.
  • I LOVE freezer cooking! It makes daily life so much easier. Set aside one day a month to get all of your freezer cooking done. Or, make double, triple, or quadruple batches of a recipe when you are making one – if you are making baked macaroni and cheese for dinner one night, make a few batches and throw the others in the freezer; if you are making tacos, make extra taco meat and freeze it for another meal. And freezer cooking doesn’t just have to be for dinner – freeze muffins, waffles, burritos, cinnamon rolls, pizza dough, and soups.
  • Cook and prepare whatever you can in advance. Take some time each weekend to boil eggs, chop fruits and vegetables, make sandwiches. And be sure to involve the kids in the prep work!
  • Have designated mealtimes. That way, everyone knows when they will be fed and you won’t have to answer the question, “When are we going to eat?” countless times. Make sure you throw in a snack time as well.
  • This is just a little tip to help make all the hard work of meal prep and planning rewarding – the parent that is not doing the meal prep should teach and train the kids to thank whoever made the meal. When you hear an unprompted, “Thank You for dinner mom” from the little voices around the table, it will melt your heart, and make all the hard work worth it!
  • You can’t please every family member at every meal, no matter what size your family is. Someone is bound to not like what’s on the menu at some point. We are a family of 9, so this is a constant issue! To remedy this, I give everyone two choices at mealtimes: Take it or Leave it! I had this sign made for our kitchen after seeing it at a friend’s house:

dinner choices

 

Here are some recipe ideas to get you inspired to start streamlining your mealtimes:

Breakfast:

 

Lunch:

 

Check out my Freezer Cooking Pinterest Board for recipes to get you started with freezer cooking!

Comments

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Comments

  1. says

    This is awesome! I just started streamlining my meals too. We have the same breakfast/lunch menu and for dinner each day is assigned a protein. Has made life much simpler and there’s fewer questions about meals.

  2. Diana says

    Thank you for this post. I have two children, but only one is formally homeschooled, and mealtime can be stressful. For years, I’ve been making weekly, and lately, monthly meal plans but I never thought about doing the same for breakfast and lunch. Hopefully this will free up more time during my day. Thanks again.

  3. Karen says

    This is truly from Holy Spirit. It’s confirmation of a conversation I had with Him just the other day. We’re a family of 7 and the appetites are huge to say the least. Couple that with a vegan diet and meal planning becomes a chore. Simplifying is the way to go. I recently said our dinner meals would return to this rotation pasta, tofu, beans. That means the main entree would be made from that item that night and the sides would be simple like salad or brown rice etc. thanks for this post. I’ll incorporate some of these inspired ideas to our menus also.

  4. Belle says

    I have been doing something similar for the past 13 years.

    I have an assigned “kitchen helper” each day. They are my right hand assistant. Now, I have teenagers that get breakfast going (because they have learned many recipes due to the fact that they make it every week until everyone knows their recipes, then we find new ones!) while I corral the toddler and get my own morning chores handled! They clean up the kitchen for me so that I can work nights, and they all know (or are learning) how to cook.

    My dinner routine is quite different from most folks I know. I have a spontaneous husband who likes to cook and throw monkey wrenches. We have solved it by me making a monthly plan for 5 days a week/3 weeks a month. The 4th week is pantry clean out if hubby hasn’t monkey-wrenched us into having available meals! ;) He cooks on the weekends too! It used to stress me out until we came to this compromise. Now, it works for all of us! My meal plan consists of 5×7 meal plan cards that I have refined over the past 13 years into 13 weeks of 5 meals that include a healthy protein, healthy starch, and 2 healthy veggies. Because each week has been carefully cultivated, we have a rather pleasant variety each week and I plan for leftovers to be re-used in another meal…. and if I only use 1/2 the bell pepper on Monday, it’s because Wednesday’s recipe needs the other half! I HATE waste!

    And, we almost always eat leftovers for lunch! Though we do have a junky/picnic-y fun lunch every week when our homeschool groups meets. Variety is the spice of life…. and when I can plan for variety, life is even better.

  5. Jamie says

    Streamlining has really really made the realm of “foods” so much more manageable. When I realized that not every meal *had* to be spectacular, but did have to feed and fill 6 people three times/day I felt like a weight had been lifted. I do a theme everyday: Mon – pasta, Tues – mexican, Wed – american, Thurs – crockpot, Fri – soup, Sat – new recipe, Sun – leftovers/snacky. I love how much more organized this makes me. I think I got the tip from “Large Family Logistics” several years ago and I keep coming back to the same method.

  6. Stephanie Lucas says

    Thank you for these ideas and information. I woke up this morning with the idea that I needed to streamline meal times, but wasn’t sure at all how to start. This will come in very handy. I appreciate that you have shared this with us. God Bless!

  7. says

    Awesome post! Pinning onto my Meal Planning Made Easy board. I’m a mom of five and do many of these things already, but it’s nice to have extra ideas and inspiration.

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