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Meal Planning 101: Breakfast & Lunch

Last week, I told you the benefits of meal planning, and why you should be doing it.

This week, we’re going to start working on HOW to do it.

Every week, your dinner items will be different. However, breakfast and lunch will be the same week to week. I’m not saying you have to eat the same breakfast every day for the rest of your life, but that you should choose your seven favorite breakfast’s, that you are willing to prepare in the morning, and plan accordingly. Same goes for lunches.

Of course, if you have something special coming up, you’ll want to take that in to account. Do you always have cinnamon rolls on Christmas? Do you make a special birthday breakfast? Are weekends for brunch? Think about what you want to eat… and we’ll put it on the list.

If you have a large family, and expect them to take turns with making breakfast, then those family members need to be able to make the breakfast assigned to that day. A 17 year old can make pancakes. A 4 year old cannot. If someone really likes to eat scrambled eggs, then let them make scrambled eggs every Wednesday. There is no reason why children can’t help prepare meals. You’ll actually be doing them a favor by giving them this responsibility.

The more involved your family is, the better this system will work!

For example, this is the breakfast and lunch menu at my house:

Day Breakfast Lunch
Monday eggs and toast peanut butter and jelly sandwich
Tuesday rice chicken nuggets with rolls
Wednesday cold cereal cold sandwich
Thursday eggs and muffins macaroni and cheese
Friday oatmeal & banana soup
Saturday pancakes or French toast cheese crisp
Sunday cold cereal leftovers

You’ll notice, that it’s NOT fancy. These are the things that my kids like to eat, that I’m willing to make, and that they are willing to help prepare.

Monday through Friday, breakfast is quick and easy. On Saturdays, when we have more time, and people don’t have to be out the door, on the bus, I can make a bigger/more involved meal.

You’ll also notice that I give myself some wiggle room on those choices. A cold sandwich can be a veggie sub, or ham and cheese, or chicken salad, or tuna, or turkey,  or bologna, or peanut butter…. For me a cold sandwich means no cooking involved. It does involve preparation, but preparation is not the same as cooking.

Also, when I say “muffins”, it depends on what I have on hand, and what’s on sale. I love English muffins, but I don’t want to pay $3.49 for a bag of them, especially knowing that one bag is only one breakfast. If my family was smaller, and that $3.49 could be spread out over the course of a week, I would be more inclined to purchase that item at full price. $3.49 for one meal is different from $3.49 for six or seven meals.

So sometimes, I’ll make banana or blueberry muffins instead!  And that’s okay, because it’s a delicious option that I can make the night before, and then maybe sleep in for an extra 10 minutes the next morning.

This meal system gives me the freedom I want in the kitchen, but ensures that I always have what I need on hand.

Homework: This week, I want you to make a list of what you WANT to eat, and what you’re WILLING to make, for breakfast and lunch. Be realistic. If you want to make omelets every week, put it on the list. If you just like to eat omelets occasionally, then that meal would be better suited for dinner. (Because breakfast for dinner is always an option… more on that next week!)  

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Caroline Bingham is Editor of Mormon Mommy Blogs, writes/draws about life as she knows it at The Bingham Diaries, and features bloggers daily at the Casual Blogger Community. She lives just outside of Washington DC with her husband and their four children, and tries her hardest not to screw it all up. Her sharp wit and honest parenting advice have earned her recognition as one of the best parenting blogs on the web. Caroline has a solid testimony of blogging, a color coded system for everything, and probably likes you. Amen.

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