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Menu Planning 101

Steps to Creating the Menu

When I first started planning a menu it seemed overwhelming.  Many moms ask me, “How do I even do this?”   I know this feeling.  So before we move forward, take a moment and breathe.  No, really, release the air you’re holding on to & let that tension go.  Now, say this simple prayer with me, “Lord, please give me Your wisdom to learn new methods to regain my health and lead a life that glorifies You in my kitchen and in my habits. Amen.”

And while we may not be facing the huge task of an unfaithful nation in our kitchen, I love these inspiring words from the book of Ezra when I’m facing a challenge!  “Let’s rise up, take courage, and do it!” (Ezra 10:4) 

Now, Let’s Go!

For so long, we’ve just opened the fridge and the cabinets and tried to rummage around to find something we can create using spaghetti noodles, chocolate cake mix, and mole sauce and frozen veggies.  Can I get an, “Amen!” if you can relate to this one!

On a serious note though, we treat our kitchens the same way many of us treat our lives:  We LET life happen to us instead of creating and executing a plan to take charge of our lives.

We LET life happen to us instead of creating and executing a plan to take charge of our lives.

This post is not meant to lecture you.  This post is meant to be a wake-up call for those of us who KNOW we can do better, but feel a little overwhelmed at the process and where to begin.  I aim to give you the tools today to CREATE FREEDOM in your kitchen and in turn help you create a revolution in your life.

Let’s Keep this Simple

Giant Slayer, you know I’m all about creating systems that help simplify our lives.  I plan our weekly menu in less than 10 minutes with these six simple steps.  After I review our calendar in one of my 10 MINUTE POWER POCKETS, I can then get to work on planning meals around our schedule.

Here are the exact steps I follow every single Sunday afternoon:

  1. Review all the events for the week on your calendar.
  2. Which meals can I double prep or cook at one time?
  3. Plan evening meals first.
  4. Plan breakfast.
  5. Plan lunch.
  6. Plan snacks for the “in-between” meals.

STEP 1: Review the Calendar

This is where freedom truly begins! I’m all about planning, preparing, and being intentional with our time.

The step to planning the menu is to KNOW which events are happening.  I totally understand the need for flexibility.  I did marry a soldier after all.  But, friend, creating a plan and writing it on paper is a MUST!  And, it is totally okay to adjust if you need!

As I review our family calendar I can see which afternoons we may be late coming home, out for ball games, or simply schedule a family date night.  This moves us into Step 2: Decide which meals I can double cook.

STEP 2: Decide Which Meals I Can Double Cook.

I’m all about some Sunday afternoon meal prep in which I can prepare several meals at once to save me hours during the week!   I can double our portions for our protein sources or sides and repurpose these for several meals.   By knowing what is on our calendar, I can decide which nights would be perfect for leftovers!  This means less time in the kitchen and more time elsewhere!

STEP 3: Plan Evening Meals First

Why do I do this?  Because while it is the most challenging, it is also the place in which I like to be the most creative.

I created a simple spreadsheet of which food choices we love so that I’m not going through the tiring process of trying to remember which veggies each child prefers.  By knowing my family’s likes I can create a variety of foods to put on their plates and ensure that if I’m introducing a new dish, then their favorites will be on the plate too!

Once I’ve decided and penciled in what we’re going to eat on our big calendar, I simply take a piece of plain paper and write it out.  Then, hang it next to the stove so that everyone can see what is planned for the week.  No more, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” questions.

While planning a menu Simple equals Success.  Writing the menu on paper like this is the epitome of simple.

STEP 4: Plan Breakfast

Since I follow a Portion Fix System for clean eating, my breakfast always consists of high protein paired with vegetables or fruit.  Since one of my TOP 10 DAILY GOALS is to have a vegetable or fruit at each meal for our family, these two ideas mesh perfectly together!

I must tell you that breakfast is a simple affair and usually prepped several days at a time.  I plan to post soon a month of breakfast meals for you!  I can’t wait to get this in your hands!

STEP 5: Plan Lunch

Salads are my jam!  I’ve shared with you my MASON JAR SALAD tips, and seriously, they have been my life saver.  While I love good leftovers for lunch, I usually send those with the husband or the children!  I vary my salad toppings frequently, but really try to stay with this combo: 2 cups mixed vegetables, 1/2 cup fruit, 3/4 cup lean protein, 1/3 cup nuts or cheese, and a simple topping of seeds or a dressing. This combo makes it easy for me to follow the Portion Fix System and keep my weight off!  It also fills me up and keeps me from feeling sluggish from a heavy lunch!

mason jar salads

Friend, whatever plan you follow, know this: PLAN your lunch.  If you can prepare it ahead of time this keeps you on track with healthy eating!  It’s truly about finding a combination that works for your family!

STEP 6: Plan Snacks

Oh yes!  We are going here today.  This, my dear friend, is where many of us become derailed in our health journeys!  We fail to plan for snack times.  We vow, “I”LL BE STRONG!” and then cave when the mid-afternoon hits with fussy children, after-school rushing, or the big project that must be finished.

Friend, what if you embraced these times and planned accordingly?  Know you have a stressful afternoon and chocolate sounds too good to pass up?  Then, pack a protein bar!  My favorite is a BEACHBAR that has 10g of protein.

I also love to have a fruit or vegetable pair with protein at this time! Usually, as soon as the children are out of school they want a snack as well.  Planning for healthy options and then ensuring these options are on hand is essential in keeping us reaching for good choices! This small snack helps hold me (us) until dinner!

Better yet, we think we’ll defeat that after dinner sweet tooth without a plan.  Before I created a bedtime routine with my children, evenings were entirely stressful and every night brought about cravings for sugar to help me cope!  Go ahead and laugh or nod your head if this is you too!

I know there are nights I want to “treat” myself.  So, I planned and prepared these chocolate protein bites so that I would not forage the cabinets and derail my plan.

chocolate protein bites recipe

Friend, I’ll be sharing our snack combinations and ideas soon in another blog post!  I would love to hear your favorite combinations in the comments below!

Let’s Recap!

These basic steps will help you start taking action in your life today, friend!  When I first began planning like this, it took me a few weeks to really feel confident in how I was planning.   However, creating new and better habits can be a good challenge!

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Tools to Help You

I want to share with you a simple menu planner that you can download to help you with this process! If you’re already on my email list, just swing by the Toolbox here on the blog to download your copy!

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send me the printable

The Toolbox

This resource I’m offering you is just one little tool from my toolbox that I would love to share with you.  I have an entire free library for you as a subscriber to Dauntless with Dignity.  After you click the link above, I’ll send you a link to access all the free downloads I have.

If you’re already on my list, friend, just follow this link here to The Toolbox to pick up these pages!  Make sure you have your passcode handy!  It should be in your inbox!

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Get Intentional with These Tools

Throwing off everything that hinders and sin that so easily entangles is so much easier when we can “see” what is in front of us!  In the Shop are several tools to help you do just this!   There’s a Daily Habit Tracker, Morning Action Plan Pages, Weekly Task Sheets, How to Create a Chore Chart.

I designed each of these to help me fix my eyes on Jesus and HIS purpose for our lives: To LIVE like we’ve been called out from the grave!  Swing by and check these out if you’re ready to Hebrews 12 your life!

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Let’s Connect

Giant Slayer, I also want to invite you to join our free encouragement group ♥️ Dauntless with Dignity ♥️ so that we can spur one another forward!  This group is full of fierce and passionate women who love Christ and each other!

dauntless with dignity facebook gorup

Sharing is Caring

Friend if you’ve found this post helpful, just click one of the share buttons to help another Sister out!  Let’s join together in this journey to break through old barriers and habits to live like we’ve been called out from the grave.

Also, you can simply click this image below and pin it so you can refer to it often!

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Let’s Hang Out!

Friend, wherever you are in your journey, know this: I am praying for you and your journey!  I would love to hear how you’re running a Hebrews 12 race!  Will you leave me a comment below and share this post on social media to encourage believers everywhere!  Tag me on Instagram or Facebook!

Thank you for stopping by today!  I pray that these Spirit-led strategies and tools I’m sharing bless you and encourage you to live like you’ve been called out from the grave!

stephanie signature

Stephanie

Daughter of the King.
Veteran's Wife. Mother of Three Blessings.
Lover of Lemons, Salad, Coffee & the Simple Life
Learning to use the Mess to make His Message.

Binge Read for more blessings

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