Aggie's Kitchen

Starting Off On The Right Foot: Back To School Menu Planning

School started in these parts yesterday. I know. I know. It just doesn’t seem right being that it’s the middle of August and it’s still a million degrees out does it? But after living in Florida for 20 something years already, it is what it is. We start school in August.

Still doesn’t seem right.

But the kids were ready, I was ready and we were all smiles come Monday morning. It’s all good.

Whether we like it or not, we are back to the routine. I honestly find a certain amount of comfort in routine, would you agree? Routine grounds me. It doesn’t need to feel strict, but a loose guide of how our days are going to go is not a bad thing as far as I’m concerned.

Which leads to me to this – my attempt at menu planning. One of my biggest challenges when it comes to my home life comes at dinner time. What do I make? What does everyone want to eat? Ugh, what veggie version of dinner can I make for myself? Oh, is it blogworthy? I wonder if I can get a picture of it? Add a few hangry people (ok, so maybe just one) to that mix and things can get a little hairy come 5pm if you know what I mean. So I’m jumping on board. I’m going to menu plan. And ta da…here is my first week:

Monday – Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken (great recipe!!) with Stir Fried Vegetables (Eat Smart bags on sale at Publix this week for the win) and Sprouted Rice and Quinoa Blend (found at Costco)

Tuesday – Pan Grilled Fish Sandwiches with Slaw (raw veggies with ranch – for kids)

Wednesday – Pasta Night with Simple Marinara Sauce (that I made ahead on Sunday – go me!) and salad

Thursday – Leftover Buffet and/or sandwiches (might break out panini press for fun)

Friday – Homemade Pizza (toppings to be determined) and salad (I reserve the right to go out for pizza, fyi)

Saturday and Sunday – TBD (baby steps, baby steps…)

Are you proud of me or what? I’m proud of me that’s for sure. I am not one to “meal plan” at all…I usually thrive on winging it and cooking up anything I’m in the mood for based on whatever I find in my fridge or my pantry. It’s fun and all, but I learned last school year (with the onset of after school sports and activities) that I could just not fly like that anymore. So here is my attempt at finding some sanity this school year. And already yesterday I started my typical indecisive, rebellious inner dialogue of “Well, I am not really in the mood for Asian tonight” and “Ugh, no one is going to like dinner” and “Maybe we should go out for dinner and celebrate the first day of school!”.

I shut that down real quick. Dinner was awesome, stress free and everyone loved it (or at least acted like it).

To help me get started, my friend Kim shared a couple of printable menu plans here, here and here. There are a gazillion out there so find one that works for you.

Our menu plan is on our fridge, scribbled in pencil, for all to see. In my past attempts to menu plan I would write into my planner, but I feel like it being out in “public” in the kitchen like that is helpful – it’s a good reminder for me, and where I tell the fam to look when they ask “what’s for dinner?”.

Let’s do this. Wish us luck.

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34 comments on “Starting Off On The Right Foot: Back To School Menu Planning”

  1. Our schools start next week- crazy town! Great pictures! Fabulous job on the planning- I’m going to check out that sesame chicken recipe now

  2. LUCK! Luck luck luck. I couldn’t live without menu planning. It creates my shopping list, helps me stay frugal, and most – seriously, MOST – importantly it sets me up for eating three squares + snacks of food that is equally healthy and delicious. It is paramount to how I live and how I nourish myself and Steve. I hope you can find a groove with it, too because I’m telling you, it’s priceless!

    (and yes, once in a while, I “don’ wanna” make what’s on my menu on the day of, but I am always glad when I do!)

    • It’s been an eye opener for sure…and such a relief! I sat down Sunday morning, looked at our schedule and made my list, then went to the grocery store. I feel so prepared. And YES so important as far as keeping things in check health wise. A few too many unprepared nights = eating out is never good for me (or anyone!). Thank you for your note, it is encouraging and made me smile! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m really really hoping this sticks.

  3. Aggie, this is one of my favorite posts you’ve written! First off, the pics of your kiddos are making me smile…. PRECIOUS!!! And second, we can all relate. All summer I’ve been winging it… and that didn’t work too well for me! So I am SUPER excited to get back on track with meal planning. It’ll feel so good to know what we are having, to have the ingredients on hand, and to be happy in the kitchen cooking away at dinner time. Thanks for the links to your dinners… heading to check them out!

  4. Great job on menu planning, Aggie! I feel lost if I don’t make a game plan each week and then I really struggle to cook dinner at night after a long day at the office! I like to menu plan before I go grocery shopping, assess what I have on hand, and make my grocery list. Once I get home, unload groceries, I try to reserve time to prep food for the meals during the week. I.e., chop onions and peppers, steam a veggie for a recipe, roast veggies, defrost and ring out some spinach, etc… saves me time during the week when I want to throw together a quick and healthy dinner! Good luck on the menu planning. Now that the kids are back in school I think you will be able to get back in to a routine and a new one with menu planning!

    • Thanks Katie! I love all the meal prep ideas. I was happy to cook once, use twice with my sauce on Sunday (made chicken parm, pasta tomorrow)…that was helpful and only happened because I had a plan. Roasting vegetables is such a great idea to do when unpacking groceries…will save room in the fridge too ๐Ÿ˜‰
      I’m motivated. It’s necessary and just will keep things cool and more productive around here. Thanks for all the good ideas!

  5. I am also going to attempt to menu plan and post my menu. We start school at the end of the month and I am dreading the busy days. I do love your menu. I may have to borrow for my menu next week.

  6. Besides the obvious advantage of planning ahead and the since of peace a menu plan can give, it’s usually very friendly for the budget. Instead of feeling rushed for a dinner idea and being forced to purchase either prepared food at the store or rushing out for take-out, menu planning helps keep the budget in check by having what you need ahead of time.

    Which also equates to being healthier.

    Kudos on the wonderful dinner ideas!!

    • Yes, healthy and totally a money saver too! I am always running back and forth to store when I have no idea…and spending way too much. And of course the take out nights add up. Have a great week!

  7. Your kids are seriously adorable. That’s all. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Welcome back to school. Goodbye summer, even though it still feels like summer. That’s Florida for you. I’m a huge fan of menu planning but it hasn’t been going well this year. Getting home at 5:30, the girls crazy schedule, doesn’t leave much room to menu plan. But I need to have a plan to make our eating habits better, if you know what’ I mean. Need to get motivated. I need quicker things during the week but still tasty and a balanced meal. I make my “bigger” meals on the weekend.

    Wish me luck Aggie and I wish you luck too!

  9. My daughter isn’t even in school and I can’t believe how fast summer went! Crazy! I need to start menu planning better again. The pregnancy is taking all the life out of it. lol

    • I find comfort even planning a couple days at a time sometimes. Pregnancy is tough though, I’m so sorry you are still not feeling great! You are almost at the finish line right??

  10. We luckily have a few weeks left of summer. You are good inspiration and I should learn how to meal plan too. There are too many nights that I am winging it.

  11. That looks like a great menu for the week, Aggie! Your kids are just adorable. I felt a rush of joy at the site of your Berenstain Bears books. I’m a total nostalgia junkie and I loved those as a kid.

    • You have no idea how much joy those books bring me, I love when the show is on too. Total comfort and nostalgia…yes!

  12. Omg the kids look adorable! I love their uniforms!! And good luck with the menu planning ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. I love the pictures of your kiddos. Just precious!
    I think that menu planning is definitely the way to go. I have totally not stuck to one this summer, and it has made meal time more challenging than necessary. Actually, creating a September meal plan is on my to-do list for this week. I am even going to attempt to make it for all meals so that I will not be scrambling in the morning preparing breakfast and lunches for school. Fingers crossed that it all goes smoothly. ๐Ÿ™‚
    P.S. How was the first day of Kindergarten?

  14. Very cool, Aggie! Routine grounds me too…I need to get in my routine groove. I just can’t believe how fast the summer went!! So glad you’re doing a meal plan…just know that some weeks it won’t work and don’t give yourself a hard time if you don’t do one every week. I love doing them and I haven’t done one in months!! I never do it for 7 days…I usually only do it for 4-5 days and it really, really helps. xo and here’s to a great school year!! PS Miss you!

  15. I strive to be organized and am just not there but at least I know that a glorious foodie has similar problems in wondering what to make for dinner:) side note- I’m good with school starting as the dog days of summer are dragging – cheers to you!

  16. Thanks for the link love, Aggie! I do so love that recipe…it’s saved me many times. It’s blazing hot here, too. 111 yesterday! We go back to school next Wednesday – I’m certain I will cry the entire day, just like last year when Haley stared Kindergarten (who knew it would be so emotional?!) and I will have a million excuses why I don’t want to cook. Note to self: defrost the chicken and get out the crock pot.

    • Ha! I know right?? I planned a crock pot meal that day specifically because I figured I would emotionally drained to think of anything else.
      We are definitely still melting here and probably will be till Thanksgiving (used to it!) … I can’t remember what state you live in – 111 is HOT!!! Holy cow!!

      That is a great recipe you’ve got there, and I want to try the other one you have on your site (asian, crockpot – mongolian beef??)…I think my husband would love it! We’ve made this chicken one several times now, I don’t love chicken, but I can’t help but eat this when I make it, it’s delicious! And everyone loves it so such a winner. Have a great first day of school next week!! hugs ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. I’m in northern California (born and raised), and honestly my tolerance for heat has grown enormously since living in Minnesota (a.k.a. The Arctic) for way too many winters. BUT 111? I’d reached my limit at 104. I’m meeelllting. But you bring up a good point – come holiday time, I’ll be enjoying walking to the market without a jacket, while the rest of the country is stuck in snow. I don’t miss it! I am mourning the loss of summer break though. We’re not done swimming! xoxo

  18. Hey Aggie!! This was totally on time for me! I used to do this a while ago but got away from it! I also found a houshold notebook idea from one of the links Kim suggested! Love it!! So excited about a new organized school year! Thanks for sharing!

  19. I love the pics of your kids in their uniforms-so cute!

  20. I am terrible at menu planning. I always have high hopes but they never come to fruition. Maybe I’ll give it one more shot ; ) xoxo PS the kids are just beautiful!

  21. Aggie, your kids are cutie pies!! ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s just my husband and myself and I still menu plan sometimes. It makes life so much easier! Great ideas on the food! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. such adorable kiddos! We don’t have kids yet but I live by my meal plan–makes the weeks so much less stressful! Good luck!