Menu planning for homeschool: Preparation
If your homeschool day is ending with stress about what you’re going to have for dinner that night, then menu planning is something you need to take hold of. Home education is not just about academics – it encompasses every area of family care and homemaking. Organising your time and priorities is important in making your day go smoothly when caring for your children’s needs, whether it’s teaching maths or feeding them.
Once I got menu planning under my belt, I realised I not only saved money, but perhaps more importantly, I stopped wasting food. Having a large family, I would buy a heap of fruit and vegetables thinking that I knew I would surely use them up during the week. Well, it turned out that most weeks I found shrivelled capsicum, fuzzy beans or slimy spring onions, among other unidentified objects, in my crisper. I’m sure I’m not alone on that score.
Before embarking on planning your meals, there are a few preparatory things that will make the whole thing work better:
Shopping online reduces temptation to buy things you don’t need, saves time and petrol and, if your order is big enough, you can get free delivery. I’ve been shopping online for my groceries for a couple of years now and it’s been the best thing I’ve done to improve efficiency into my routine.
After your first order you will have set up a “bought before” section in your account. The next time you shop all you have to do is click through and add any of your usual items to your cart.
Then, check your menu and add the rest to your list. Being at home means you can check your cupboards for what you need (get the kids to run around and give you an inventory).
If you shop online with Coles on eBay, and join eBay Plus for $49 (per year) you’ll get 5% off all your Coles orders (made via eBay) plus free delivery for all your Coles orders over $49 (easy peasy). Then there is “free standard domestic postage on all eBay Plus items paid with PayPal or a credit/debit card.” Free delivery and 5% off – that’s pretty good, not to mention all the other benefits of eBay Plus.
A large grocery shop will save you even more time and ensure you get free delivery. Ordering with Coles online direct means you will only get free delivery if you order over a certain amount. Shopping monthly ups your total and your likelihood of getting free delivery.
It also means you don’t have to think about shopping for a whole month – yes!
So, if you shop in bulk you will need extra space to store your supplies. You will no doubt need a largish freezer and a pantry. If you don’t have a pantry or yours is on the small side, consider using an old wardrobe or other cupboard, or get some large plastic containers.
Display your menu plan
This is vital if you have other people in the family helping with meal preparation. They will need to see in advance what they will be cooking so they can get all the ingredients ready and allocate enough time for the task.
In the past I’ve used a small whiteboard or just print out that week’s menu and stick it on the fridge or display it in a central place in the kitchen.
Plan your menu
Planning your menu takes time. You may need a couple of weeks (or longer) to prepare all the things above, so note down meals as you think of them while you do that. Don’t try and think of a month’s worth of meals in one go – you will do your head in.
Once you’ve started that process, read our next article on how to formulate your menu and shopping list.
Now that you’re ready to plan that menu, get planning!