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Plan It- Don’t Panic Meal Planning Challenge (and Simplifying Menu Planning for Busy Times)
Posted By Stephanie Langford On October 31, 2011 @ 3:00 am In Getting organized,Menu Planning | Comments Disabled
Snow is lovely. Except when it delays my flight home from Pennsylvania  by 24 hours, keeping me from my family.
These things just happen, though, and so here I sit in the Harrisburg Sheraton hotel, attempting to come up with a suitable meal plan filled with simple meals for a week of transitioning back to regular life and coming home to an empty fridge!
Unexpected circumstances and hectic times don't have to mean that we can't still meal plan effectively. By definition, the whole purpose of meal planning is that it is intended to simplify and streamline our meal preparation and shopping processes, not just give us another thing to do.
There are many things you can do to ensure that you can come up with a plan that suits your needs in busy seasons, not to mention one that comes together quickly and hassle-free.
You've already made previous menu plans and put a good deal of time and thought into their preparation. Assuming that you keep them (and I do recommend that you keep at least some of your meal plans), reusing them at a later time is both practical and efficient. When you're particularly low on time one week, just choose a previous plan that looks good and make a quick grocery list based on it.
I don't love doing this on a really regular basis, as my family prefers a lot of variety and so do I. That said, there are definitely times when this simple tactic is absolutely worth using. Like this week. My meal plan below is a combination of a couple of previous weeks during this meal plan challenge.
Ever the practical one, my friend Tsh over at Simple Mom likes to plan out two weeks at a time . She plugs the meals into her Google calendar and then sets them all up to repeat two weeks later. Voila. One planning session and she has a month of menus at her fingertips.
I love this idea of seasonal meal planning  from Lindsay at Passionate Homemaking and have used it at various times. It requires a chunk of time upfront, but once the seasonal plan is done, each weekly plan requires very little extra planning.
If you know you're about to move into a more chaotic season of life, this would be worth considering as an investment of time that will pay off with dividends of weeks or months of easy planning.
It is far better to have a meal plan that consists of sandwiches, scrambled eggs with smoothies, and tomato soup for your dinners, than it is to plan nothing at all.
There are a lot of great meal planning services out there. Here are a few that I know of:
You may prefer to do most of your planning yourself, but options like these can be helpful when you're in need of just one more aspect of life to simplify and streamline.
Our Menu Plan This Week
I will be travelling all day. I hope my family can find something good to eat while mama is stuck being gone one more day!
- Breakfast: Soaked oatmeal  with raw milk  and honey (I'll do mine with some fruit and cinnamon since I can't have honey right now)
- Dinner: Baked potato  bar (with various veggies, cheese, sour cream, etc.) and turkey sausages
- Prep: Thaw beef broth .
- Breakfast: Eggs and toast
- Dinner: Garden Chowder  with bread
- Breakfast: French toast and fruit sauce
- Dinner: Soft tacos with meat and beans , lettuce, cheese, salsa, etc.
- Prep: Start baked oatmeal to soak.
- Breakfast: Toast and fruit smoothies
- Dinner: Shepherd's Pie
- Breakfast: Eggs, fried potatoes, sausage (I'm cooking extra for Sunday)
- Dinner: Pasta with homemade tomato sauce  and sausage
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URL to article: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2011/10/plan-it-dont-panic-meal-planning-challenge-and-simplifying-menu-planning-for-busy-times.html
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/planitdontpanic.png
 from Pennsylvania: http://www.keeperofthehome.orgtherelevantconference.com
 plan out two weeks at a time: http://simplemom.net/how-to-menu-plan/
 seasonal meal planning: http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2010/09/simplifying-grocery-shopping-the-benefits-of-monthly-menu-planning.html
 Image: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/4298287138_7e7c3621ff.jpg
 stevendepolo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/
 GNOWFGLINS Real Food Menus: http://gnowfglins.com/ecourse/240-38-3-39.html
 Grain Free Meal Plans: https://www.healthhomehappy.com/amember/go.php?r=61&i=l0
 Two weeks of meal plans: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2011/06/meal-plans-from-%E2%80%9C100-days-of-real-food%E2%80%9D.html
 Meal plans from The Fresh 20: http://www.thefresh20.com/mealplan/
 Soaked oatmeal: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2008/04/soaking-oatmeal.html
 raw milk: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2011/04/whats-so-great-about-raw-milk.html
 Baked potato: http://thepurposedheart.com/the-perfect-baked-potato/
 beef broth: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2008/01/homemade-soup-broth-an-essential-element-in-any-healthy-frugal-kitchen.html
 Garden Chowder: http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2009/01/garden-chowder.html
 beans: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2008/06/baby-steps-cooking-dry-beans.html
 homemade tomato sauce: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2007/12/menu-plan-monday.html
 Chicken pot pie: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2008/02/delicious-nutritious-and-frugal-chicken-potpie.html
 this millet topping: http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/2008/01/root-vegetable-cobbler-with-millet-dumplings.html
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