DO YOU FEEL DEFEATED AS A FARM MOM?
Do you feel like you are constantly putting out fires on the farm? Is the laundry and the dishes piling up? Are the chickens in the garden again? Are the children bickering and fighting again? I hear you! I have been there! And honestly, sometimes I still am! However, I am going to introduce you to a Family Meal Planning Idea that will bring some peace and calmness to your day.
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How Meal Planning on the Farm bring Peace and Joy to your Day
I am a mom to 5 amazing kids who were all born within 6 years of each other. No twins! We live on a farm and my husband works full time. We also homeschool. So I understand crazy busyness. After 15 years of living on the farm, I have found one quick and easy win that brings calmness to my day is to have a menu plan.
Download free worksheets to get you started with meal planning
5 Ways a Meal Plan Brings a Win to the Farm
You may be thinking that it is impossible to feel peace and joy with the state of your farm and house, but that may be because you are focusing on the wrong thing. Family Meal Planning is the one baby step that can help you in 5 ways. The purpose of this article is not to organize your whole life, but to get you out of your frazzled state and into a place where you feel like you can at least breath and not feel overwhelmed when it comes to mealtime. And not feeling overwhelmed feels fabulous. Here are the 5 ways family meal planning helps you to go from feeling frazzled to feeling faith-filled.
- Frees your Mind
- Family Unity and Ownership
- Teaches children about meal preparation
- Saves Money
- Enjoy Seasonal food
Let’s briefly look at each benefit. This will motivate us to put in the initial work to reap the long term benefits.
Meal Planning Frees your Mind
When your meals are planned out for the week, you don’t always have that thought in the back of your mind, “What are we going to eat for supper?” You just look at your meal plan right before bed, take the necessary ingredients out of the freezer, and go to bed. Your mind is now freed up the next day to think about other things such as farm projects, homeschool, what farm animal you would like to add to your homestead. All the meals have been planned and you don’t need to think about them.
Meal Planning Brings Family Unity and ownership
This was probably the most surprising benefit. Working together to plan meals helps everyone take ownership of what you eat. It helps children feel responsible for food. It also provides accountability for putting together healthy, delicious meals for all members of the family. This in turn will help them not be picky eaters.
Meal Planning teaches children about meal preparation
You are teaching life skills to your children. Your children are going to have to eat the rest of their lives. The more you know how to prepare food from scratch, the less money they will have to spend on food.
I regret not spending more time in the kitchen as a child. I wish I would have learned more cooking skills as a child from my mom. For the first few years on my own, I called my mom A LOT with cooking questions. I still call her from time to time.
My mother-in-law did something wonderful for my husband. She made recipe cards of his favorite meals and gave it to him when we got married. Since I do most of the cooking, these recipe cards were very helpful to me. I was able to make him his favorite meals right from the start.
Meal Planning Saves Money
When I fail to plan the meals, I end up running to the grocery store for frozen pizzas or we stop for fast food. This costs more money than cooking at home. Especially if you live on a farm and produce your own food. We are able to produce 90 percent of our meat year-round and 50 percent of our vegetables in in the summer. There is also the eggs from the chickens and the milk from the cow. But if you don’t know plan how you will use your harvest, you will end up spending money.
Meal Planning utilizes seasonal food
Once you develop a meal planning rhythm you can plan your butchering around your meal plan. You can also plan the garden and utilize food that you have preserved from canning, dehydrating and freezing. Plus there is nothing like walking out the door to collect eggs or veggies from the garden. Don’t forget about foraging when planning your menu. We love asparagus, morel mushrooms, wild blackcaps and plan them into our spring menu.
5 Steps to implementing Menu Planning
As I mentioned, the key to sticking to meal planning is to involve the WHOLE FAMILY. That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to cook. In my family, my husband works a full-time job, so I do most of the cooking since I stay home with our children. However, involving everyone will keep you accountable to stick to the menu as much as possible.
Step 1 – Schedule a family meeting
There may be a little resistance when you first present your idea to the family. You may just schedule the meeting in your own head and just bring it up at family mealtime. I didn’t experience resistance when I suggested the idea, it was more like, complacency. No one knew what they wanted to eat. There were a lot of blank stares and shrugging of shoulders.
Step 2 – brainstorm a list of the family’s favorite meals
Since my family didn’t know what they wanted to eat. I developed a brainstorm worksheet. We listed all of the meals we already eat, our favorite meals, and the meals we want to try. When someone says they don’t know what they want to eat, we pull out the brainstorm sheet.
step 3 – assign everyone a day of the week
We use this day of the week idea for more than just our meals. There are 7 people in our family and each person has a day of the week.
Monday, Son #1,
Tuesday, Son #2 and so on.
Saturday is my day!
On that day of the week, that person gets a lot of privileges. One of the best is choosing all the meals for the day! This is all decided at the family meal planning meeting.
I cannot tell what a difference it has made to keep the peace at mealtime! Everyone knows that there will be one day each week that we will eat what they want to eat. I have implemented additional rules so we don’t eat pizza and hamburgers every week. For example, one rule is that each week a new person chooses the meals first. My husband and I don’t care, so this only rotates through the children.
You could modify this concept depending on how many people live in your house. But give it a try! You will be amazed at how it prevents conflict, especially at mealtime!
Here are some other things we use the “day of the week” concept for.
- Pray before meals
- Choose what video we watch
- Do your laundry on your day
- Make a decision no one else wants to make.
step 4 – build in seasonal foods
I save my weekly menus in a folder for a year. That way, I can look back from the previous year to see what food we were getting out of the garden, what food was on sale at the store, or bulk food that we purchased in season. Building in seasonal food helps save money and contributes to delicious meals.
step 5 – BUILD A weekly MENU PLAN WITH YOUR FAMILY
Menu planning is nothing new. I have been slightly successful at it from time to time. The key that finally made the difference was getting my entire family involved. My family keeps me accountable to stick to the plan. I make them accountable to choose meals. It reduces picky eating. Family meal planning makes each person feel special on their day. It is a win-win for the whole family. We sit down and enjoy as many meals as possible together.
Be sure to sign up for the free meal planning worksheets. Stay tuned for more worksheets and further meal planning instruction.
Do you meal plan?
Join me in my Facebook group where we talk about all things homesteading including meal planning, utilizing harvest, choosing the right farm animals. Tell me about your meal planning. Do you stick to it? What keeps you going?