This is one. When feeding a family of six three meals a day, it takes a bit of planning. Over the last few months, I've made it easier and less time consuming by compiling a list of meals we like and a chart to plan each week's dinners.
I decided on these categories: Soup/Stew, Mexican, Pasta/Italian, Casserole/Roast, Asian, Take-Out @ Home, and Quick & Easy. I made myself a chart with different meals under each category. I try to plan one meal from each category for each week, but I don't assign a specific day for each--I like to be flexible so I can decide what to make on a daily basis. Some people like to decide what they are having each day, and sometimes I do that, but most of the time I wait to see how the day is going or what I feel like.
When deciding what to make for the week, I look through the grocery store ads to see what's on sale. I haven't ever been good at using coupons, but I try to find good deals. Also, if I know I'll have leftovers, I try to plan one of the meals around them. For example, this week chuck roast was on sale, so I'm planning on making roast beef in the crock pot one day, and then I'll shred the left over beef for quesadillas on another day.
So, here is our dinner menu for this week:
Asian~Beef Sate with peanut dipping sauce, rice and peas
Soup/Stew~Corn/Potato chowder with popovers
Mexican~Shredded beef quesadillas with corn casserole
Pasta~Fish sticks (the only fish my kids will eat, besides canned tuna) with pasta and sauteed zucchini and mushrooms
Casserole/Roast~Roast Beef with carrots, potatoes, and gravy
Take-Out @ Home~Sausage and Egg muffins, fruit
Quick & Easy~Tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches
Lately, my husband has to work on Friday and Saturday nights, so I usually plan our Take-Out and Quick & Easy for those nights with just the kids. Sometimes we'll just have leftovers or breakfast on those nights, too.
I don't actually plan out each breakfast and lunch, but I try to make sure I have general idea of what we can eat. For example, this week I am making pumpkin or applesauce muffins to have on hand for breakfast, along with fruit, yogurt, or smoothies. For lunches there will be possible leftovers from dinner, tuna fish sandwiches, pasta with butter and cheese, baked potatoes, and of course peanut butter and jelly. My kids also like flour tortillas with cheese or jelly or even a scrambled egg burrito. So we just make what sounds good that day.
Do you plan out your dinners for the week? What works for you?