Summertime Menu Planning

Now that my children are home for the summer, 88 days to be exact, I needed to create a specialized menu plan for our meals, specifically lunch and dinner. First, I wanted easy meals that can be made ahead of time or in 30 minutes. Secondly, I wanted meals that incorporate summer fruits and vegetables that I will be picking up at local farmers’ markets or the grocery store. Lastly, I needed kid-friendly meals that my children would enjoy helping me cook.

PLANNING A DINNER MENU


1. “NIGHTS” The first step was creating my dinner categories to make meal planning easy and meet my three terms. For dinner I came up with Sandwich, Salad, Seafood, Pizza, Grill, Breakfast, and Pasta Nights.

2. “LISTS” After I came up with these categories or “Nights,” I made a list under each category of the dishes we like for that category. For example- for the “Salad Night” category I came up with Cobb, Caesar, Wedge, Chicken Ramen, Chef, and Taco Salads.

Note- Try to come up with 6 dishes for each catergory so that they can be rotated at least twice through the 12 weeks. More dishes means less rotations and more variety of meals. But twice insures the ability to double the recipe the first night and freeze it for the second go around on the calender, if it is freezable of course.

3. “ROTATE” Once the lists are all made, I rotated each dish once or twice through the 12 week calendar of summer vacation. So with the 7 categories, each night was covered. This makes grocery shopping easier and I have a choice of 7 meals that I can jumble around for the week to meet each night’s different needs and schedule.

The photos show my Mini Ham and Cheese Rolls for our first “Sandwich Night” with fresh orange slices, tortilla chips and homemade fresh salsa from the Farmer’s Market. In the summer I like to serve a big variety of raw fruits and vegetables which makes life so easy and healthy and keeps my kitchen and family cool and COOL!

PLANNING A LUNCH MENU


For my children’s lunches (and mine) I came up with 15 different lunch dishes that I will rotate 4 times each, Monday-Friday, for the 12 week summer vacation as well. This way we don’t feel like we are eating PBJ everyday! We eat these lunches on blue cafeteria style trays and call them “Home Lunches.” Here are the Littles getting ready to eat Dinners for a Year and Beyond’s Chicken Nuggets which are out of this world delicious, my Ranch Dip, fresh fruit, veggie stix, and cookies.

Here is a list of my lunches:
Zippy Dogs
Mac and Cheese
Brown Buttered Noodles
English Muffin Pizzas
Chicken Nuggets
My Big Fat Italian Sandwich
PBJ
Grilled Cheese
Chicken Noodle Soup
Mini Ham and Cheese Rolls
Tacos
Quesadillas
Pizza Bites
Chicken Satay
Sliders

Oh by the way, you can plan your menu for an entire year using this method. I personally have done a 6 month Spring/Summer menu April-September and a 6 month Fall/Winter menu October-March. This is a great way to cook seasonal meals, save money, and prepare meals for the freezer.

So how do you menu plan? By sale circulars? Monthly? Weekly? Or weakly?

20 Comments

  1. Sabrina
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 9:10 AM | Permalink

    I often plan by the sale circular. And when I see a blog post I want to try. Like your sliders. I have made weekly plans in the past but I didn't always stick to it.

  2. Joan Nova
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 9:58 AM | Permalink

    The mini ham & cheese sandwiches look really good — and your children are beautiful. I would enjoy spending 88 days with them! I think.

  3. Maria
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

    Great post. I am a planner and try to plan our meals ahead of time so life is easy in the kitchen! Love your summer ideas!

  4. pigpigscorner
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

    I always fail to stick to my plans. I should really be more organised.

  5. Karen
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 11:00 AM | Permalink

    Oh,my! I am in awe. A 6-month menu plan? Plan? What's that? LOL Unless we're having company my plan is to take something out of the freezer in the morning so it will be ready for dinner time! See, this is why I wouldn't make a good teacher… I don't know how to plan! LOL

  6. That Girl
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

    My inlaws are coming for the next week – so my menu planning abilities were kicked into high gear…and are not nearly as quick and easy as your menus!

  7. biz319
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

    Can't wait to check out all these recipes – I am so impressed with your planning skills!!

    I am a weekly shopper, by sale papers and what's in the pantry – you know my budget – $125 a week for breakfast/lunch/dinner for 3.

    Happy Friday – hope you have a good weekend!

  8. LizB
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 1:49 PM | Permalink

    Weakly! I'm very bad at planning, partly because of a general lack of storage in my tiny galley kitchen. I tend to be inspired by whims, which isn't the best plan for my wallet.

    BTW, I love your blog. Stumbled it, and plan to make the sliders soon.

  9. Linda
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 7:52 PM | Permalink

    You always amaze me with your fabulous organization! I passed this on to my daughter!!

  10. Coleen's Recipes
    Posted June 19, 2009 at 8:39 PM | Permalink

    The photos of your little sandwiches are FABULOUS. They really make me hungry!! My kids have all been out of the house for years, but I still have fond memories of them asking whats for dinner. They grow up so fast.

  11. katie
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 10:43 AM | Permalink

    Great post! Those ham and cheese rolls look fantastic! I am so glad you guys like the pizza bites, too. I might try a ham and cheese version!

  12. Penny
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 11:26 AM | Permalink

    Great ideas! I usually plan by the sales circulars and what is at the Farmers' Market. I tend to be spontaneous toward planning, but then I don't have darling kids like yours to feed.

  13. unconfidentialcook
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 12:32 PM | Permalink

    Yikes! Your organization puts me to shame! You have a lucky family…and v. cute kids.

  14. Rindy R
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

    Robin Sue – you are the most organized mommy I know! I so admire how you are able to make a plan AND stick to it! You go girl!

  15. Elra
    Posted June 20, 2009 at 3:28 PM | Permalink

    Having pan for menu seems like a good idea. I also like the sounding of your "Brown Buttered Noodles"

  16. noble pig
    Posted June 21, 2009 at 11:19 AM | Permalink

    You are seriously the most organized mother I know. This is a great idea and I could these easy meals right now in all my chaos! I love it.

  17. Jenn@slim-shoppin
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

    I love your planning skills.

    I shop once for the week, planning what I am making every night of the week. I may change it around depending on the day, but it does take the stress out of:

    A) going to the store several times a week and

    B) Thinking at work about what to make for dinner.

    Great job Robin Sue!! Have a great summer with your kids!

  18. Sheila
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 8:15 PM | Permalink

    thanks for the insight into your beautiful little head of ideas! i just don't have enough creativity and skill to come up with a plan of my own, so I will copy yours. I know it will be a hit; Mel is making your chicken salad for dinner now and wants YOU to make her an Italian dinner for her 18th in September:)

  19. Juliana
    Posted June 22, 2009 at 8:27 PM | Permalink

    Love the idea of planning, although I usually can not follow it due to constant change of schedule…I agree can make shopping, cooking much easier. Good for you!

  20. Mommy's Kitchen
    Posted June 23, 2009 at 9:51 AM | Permalink

    I cant wait to try some of these ideas. The kids are so cute.

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