Scheduling and identifying patterns in your meal planning

On Thursday, Candice posted her 2nd installment in her Healthy Family from Scratch series on Just Precious. Her family’s first two weeks trying to get healthy with a menu plan didn’t go exactly as she hoped. She found that it’s a lot harder to stick to the plan. I commented that the first step is learning family patterns and scheduling. Yes, it will take time to get into meal planning.

Schedule before planning

Before I meal plan each week, I always take out my calendar and bug my husband to go over our schedules for the week. For example, this week, before meal planning, we realized that Monday night we wouldn’t be home for dinner, so we’re having “sninner” (snack-dinner) and then munching on chicken fingers while driving from one stop to another. On Friday, Big will play his first football game of the season, and while game time is TBA, we’re making adjustments for that. My husband also won’t be home for dinner one night this week, so I’m making sure that that dinner is a lower-stress meal–in other words, one that I can make at-ease without the hope that he’ll be home as I finish preparing.


But just as important as scheduling is learning a family pattern. My husband is rarely home before we sit down for dinner. Usually he walks in as we’re washing hands and sitting down. At least one night a week, often more, we’ve eaten half or all of our meal before he gets home. It’s the nature of our family–he has a long commute and a lot of responsibility. I recognize the nights that, traditionally, he’s less likely to be home in time for dinner and make sure that those dinners are easier to prepare. On the nights that he’s likely to be home even a half hour earlier I’ll try to make a meal that’s a little more exciting for our family and a little more hands-on for me.


Always make room for leftovers. I do this for two reasons:

  1. Less waste. It’s a horrible feeling to have to toss food that you slaved over. Or even food that cooked in seconds. By planning at least one leftover meal a week, you’re sure to throw out less healthy food.
  2. It makes your week more shiftable. This is especially helpful when you shop only once a week and don’t want to throw away food that you don’t use. If you allow for one or two leftover nights and you need to skip cooking one night due to an unexpected… whatever, you have another night in your plan when you can make the meal.

Each family has its own patterns. Watch your family. Pay attention. Learn the patterns and learn to plan accordingly. And be prepared. It will take time.

Meal plan for this week:

Monday: Sninner of frozen pizza and chicken fingers with veggie dips as we drive from stop to stop to stop.
Tuesday:  Slow Cooker beef bourbuignonne 
Wednesday: Roasted Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: Salmon Sliders on the grill with Wedge salads (yes, my whole family loves wedges. You should try it. SO simple!)
Weekend: Steak with Chickpeas, tomatoes and feta 





mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel ( and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2011, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.



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