- I designed a calendar in photoshop and printed out a few copies, but you could easily find free printable ones online, or just write on your standard hanging wall calendar. Currently, our menu is on a five-week rotating schedule, though I have a feeling we'll be bumping up to six weeks. We are at the tail end of our first rotation and in the process discovered a few meals that somehow had not been added to our list. But you could make it any length of time you like, we just chose 5 weeks because we had 24 meals to fit in (5 nights a week, with one loose night).
- I only plan our actual dinners. Breakfast, lunch, snacks, desserts, etc are figured out along the way based on leftovers, what was on sale and what we feel like. This allows each of us to eat what we like, what we crave, and enjoy eating, even if dinner on a particular night isn't one person's favorite. I also didn't bother planning weekend meals. Silas is at his dad's house on the weekends and not over-planning gives us a chance to eat out, be spontaneous, or eat foods only the two of us enjoy.
- As I've mentioned before, Silas is in a hardcore "I don't like food" phase. That's an exaggeration, of course. After all, he loves grilled cheese sandwiches and string cheese, but boychild cannot live on cheese alone. We've sat down and had a lot of talks about how not all of us are going to like every meal that's planned. And that's ok. I'm getting kind of sick of spinach manicotti, but Seth loves it. Silas may be tired of anything involving mashed potatoes, but they're one of my favorite foods on earth. Seth likes a big slab of medium-rare red meat on occasion, both Silas and I are totally disinterested. Whatever, we'll all live. I don't force Silas to eat anything he doesn't want to any more than I'd try to force Seth. So if somebody doesn't clean their plate, or doesn't even touch what I made, I've finally decided not to be all butt-hurt about it. Life goes on.
- There's some meals that are too rich to eat on a regular basis. These meals are reserved for the last friday of the rotating menu. Most of the meals in this category are crock-pot recipes. I also did this so that I'd still use my crock-pot. There's nothing worse than buying one, getting all excited, looking through cookbooks and websites, only to discover you don't like using it very much. I only have two recipes in the 5 week plan that utilize it... Meh. So I'm forcing myself to use it that last friday too. I figure it'll pay for itself in about 12 years (in my defense, I found a great deal. So it didn't exactly put us in the hole... that'd take a VERY expensive crock-pot).
- One thing I totally didn't take into consideration is that we generally get invited to dinner at Seth's parents' house once or twice a month. This month we also went to dinner at his Grandma's because a bunch of family was in town from Chicago. The old Jasie, the obsessive, anal-retentive, uptight Jasie would have gone into crisis mode. I'm trying to mellow out... and so far I'm succeeding!! If the meals planned for those nights were things we had already bought the ingredients for, or loved too much to skip, we just moved them to a night where we were eating something less exciting. Chili & cheese baked potatoes now replaced chicken w/sides. Taco soup now replaced asian tuna patties. It's not the end of the world. These meals will come around again in another 5 weeks.
I think I covered everything. If something comes to me in a week, this is the post I'll add it to. Any questions? Requests? Want more details on something? Hit me up.
Layers of Flavor:
Part 1 - (the intro... or appetizer, if you will)
Part 2 - (breakfast, snacks and lunches)
Part 3 - (dinner construction zone)
Part 4 - (sometimes easy is... easier)