Menu Plan Monday ~ Feb 13/12

Hi everyone!  Time to plan our menus and start our week off on an organized foot, yay for menu planning!

First though I thought I’d get right into this week’s stumbling block.

Stumbling Block:

Avoiding the 4:00 witching hour

Oh my, you know the hour I’m talking about.  It may be a different time in your house but for me it always seemed to start around 4:00 with my little ones.  I think that’s because when I worked full-time outside the home (when my oldest two were little) we all got home at 4:00 and the meltdowns started almost immediately right after (and not just by the kids either!).  It was horrible.  It was made worse all around because I didn’t know about menu planning at that time and my idea of planning for dinner included coming home, opening the fridge or freezer, staring inside hoping something, anything would jump out and rescue me.  The kids would be crying, I would be grumpy and it was just not a pleasant scene in my house back then.  Oh if I only knew then what I know now.

My sister is in the same boat now with her young girls (3 and 1).  She works full time, picks her kids up from daycare and gets home between 4 and 4:30.  However she avoids this frightening witching hour (most of the time anyway!) by making up all of her meals ahead of time.  How does she do this?  She spends a couple of hours each Sunday making enough meals to carry her through the week.  She then packages them up, some for the fridge and some for the freezer, to have ready and waiting to go when she needs them.  Smart, smart, smart.

Using a slow cooker is also another option for some but for those that work all day outside of the home and aren’t able to come home for lunch, the food would be cooking for way too long.  Yuck.  That’s where freezer cooking comes in and is a fantastic example of how a little advance preparation can solve a HUGE problem for many people.

I wanted to come up with some great freezer cooking resources for you so I headed to Pinterest (where else?) and did a search.  Well what would come up but one of my posts that I did way back in 2008 with an entire list of freezer cooking resources.  I’d completely forgotten all about it, duh!  So last night I spent a couple of hours updating it and I do hope you find it helpful.  Click on the image below to check it out.

Recipe Highlight:

So last week’s highlight definitely goes to the Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps made with my panini press.  Oh my so delicious!!  Not to mention easy especially considering my sous chef daughter browned the meat and grated the cheese for me.  Gotta love a sous chef!!

What was your favorite recipe last week?

My Weekly Menu:

Monday:  Shredded Beef au Jus (missed from last week)

Tuesday:  Valentine’s Day!  – Spaghetti with Bolognese Sauce (I’ll make this sauce earlier in the day and throw it into my slow cooker to simmer away).  For a special dessert:  No Bake Cheesecake and Heart Jello Jigglers

Wednesday:  Tortellini and Ham

Thursday:  Leftover buffet

Friday:  Rotisserie Style Chicken (a family favorite!) – I’ll make it in the oven though instead of the slow cooker

Saturday:  Chicken Caesar Pita Sandwich (using up leftover chicken)

Sunday:  YOYO (you’re on your own)


Menu Plan Guidelines, banner selections and recipe helpers are here.

More family favorite recipes here.

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Filed under: Menu Plan Monday


28 Responses to Menu Plan Monday ~ Feb 13/12

  1. 1
    Susieqtpies says

    I know about the crazy hour of the day. I didn’t get it for years when I have my twins to prepare ahead of time. Once I figured it out, though, life was so much easier and still is to this day! Thanks for sharing and I sure wish I had blogs back in 1993 to help me! lol Susie

  2. 2
    Amy @ A Little Nosh says

    I’ve never been first before. Yay!

    Thanks for the freezer cooking tips. I get home around 6:00 most days, and bedtime for my son is 7:30, which doesn’t leave much time for cooking, eating, bathing, etc. Freezer cooking helps! As long as I remember to defrost it in time. LOL

  3. 3
    Miz Helen says

    Hi Laura,
    Thanks for hosting and have a wonderful week!
    Miz Helen

  4. 4
    Gaby @ Tmuffin says

    Yes!! It is so HUGE to cook on a Sunday. I’ve tried it a couple of times. The first time, I spent way too much time in the kitchen and was totally burned out. The second time, I didn’t try to get it all done at once. Instead, I went about my leisurely Sunday, and when I could I got a few things cooked, chopped, and assembled in the kitchen. That was awesome. I had meals for the whole week, and I didn’t have to deal with the witching hour.

    Also, I thought it was hilarious that you found your own post on Pinterest! Haha. Thanks for that info, though. It is super helpful.

  5. 5
    Cheryl @ Moms in Need of Mercy says

    I wrote a post awhile back about that unhappy hour with some ideas to help it go a little more smoothly. Here’s the post

    I think it’s great your sister planned ahead and did freezer cooking. That’s such a huge help for situations like that (and new babies), or any other busy seasons when it’s super tough to get a healthy dinner on the table night after night 🙂

  6. 6
    City Share says

    Ahh, the witching hour. Right now my 7 month old is cooperating during dinner prep and will play with a few toys on her high chair tray, but I know it won’t last forever. Great idea to have so many dinners made ahead. Always fun to read your suggestions.

  7. 7
    Tiffany says

    It’s such a smart idea to do a little extra cooking on the weekends to get you through the week. Love freezer cooking!

  8. 8
    [email protected] says

    The witching hour is 4:00 here, too! It seems like even though I usually start dinner at 4, it isn’t ready until.close to 7 because of all of the interruptions. I love the idea of cooking on the weekends, and I would love to hear if your sister has a few of her favorite cook-ahead recipes. I know that even if I can get some of the prep done earlier, that will help too!

    I’m going to totally check out your freezer cooking resources, too. That’s something I have been wanting to work on. .

  9. 9
    April says

    I live the 4:00 meltdown every day. Slow cooker meals help a lot, but I also do a lot of thirty minute meals too. Thanks for the tips.

  10. 10
    Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

    The hour I dreaded was 4:30, and it’s the main reason I’ve been planning menus regularly now for more than three years. Ugh- hated that time.

    Now I get such a sense of relief when that time rolls around and I wonder what we’re having and I can just look at the menu calendar.

    That is, unless it was supposed to be a whole chicken I forgot to defrost. Ooops. 🙂

  11. 11
    Lisa @ Cheap Thrills says

    To avoid pre-dinner meltdowns, my boys have a “healthy-ish” snack when they get home around 3:30. Even popcorn counts, or crackers with peanut butter. It fends off low blood sugar, which causes those tantrums and irritability (even mine). The snacks are small, since we eat dinner at 5:30. But when they don’t have one, we all can tell!

  12. 12
    Maytina says

    I save myself with freezer meals when things get busy. After our first child was born, we learned quick LOL. In my last month of our next two pregnancies I made freezer meals and it was perfect those first couple weeks enjoying the newest addition. Now I keep a few in the freezer for random days when we’re out too late or friends stay later than we planned or whatever curveball happens, there is dinner! Great post!

  13. 13
    Tammy says

    Your sister is awesome, too! I cooked my lasagna & stuffed bell peppers yesterday, along with this morning’s breakfast. Now, all I have to do is set it out, and place dinner in the oven.
    My turkey & beef mixture was already cooked in the freezer.
    Feb. 12th – Salad, crudités and fruit served
    S – Make your own homemade Valentine pizzas (boys had fun!)
    M – Lasagna, garlic knots
    T – Stuffed bell peppers
    W – Leftovers
    Th – Chicken tortellini and mushroom marinara sauce
    F – Leftovers
    S – Fur baby’s 10th birthday! Grilled steak, sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls, cake

  14. 14
    Alisha @ Going G-Free says

    Mine are a little older now (9&8) so it’s not that bad. But still, why is it, that they see me everyday in the kitchen at 4:45-5:00, and they think “OMG, I’m starving and I must have food this instant!” Some days I wish I could lock them in their rooms until dinner is ready, other days I throw carrots at them.

  15. 15
    Julie says

    I have to confess, I’ve stalked this site plenty of times, but this is the first time I’ve linked my own. I’m just pretty sure I don’t have the link right, but I’ll figure it out eventually.

    Thank you for all you share here. It’s made my life so much easier!

  16. 16
    Queen of the House says

    My favorite meal last week was: Slow and Easy Asian Chicken (linked it to my name above) 🙂

  17. 17
    Megan says

    Oh gah, I don’t even have kids, but I can’t imagine my life without meal planning. By the time I get home from work, I’m so over making decisions. Thanks for hosting the weekly parties – they’re great motivation to work the plan!

  18. 18
    Rona says

    I love the sound of Chicken Caesar Wraps.
    Happy Valentine’s Day!

  19. 19
    Sabrina says

    Love the menu! Enjoy your week!

  20. 20
    Making Our Life Matter says

    Thank you for the motivation! Dinner has been much easier these past few weeks.

  21. 21
    Heather :) :) :) says

    I found your blog via a mention over at Little Farm in the Big City 🙂 🙂 How cool is this…and I’m going to visit some of the other blogs here on your link-up. The link-up came as a total surprise…and I love those kinds of things. There’s always something new to learn 🙂 🙂 Happy VAlentine’s Day. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of CAlifornia, Heather 🙂

  22. 23
    Crystal & Co says

    The crockpot is my life saver! (or dinner saver)

  23. 24
    Sharee says

    I’m with your sister… While I am a stay-at-home mom, and my boys are 3 1/2 and 6 yo, the 1/2 hr before dinner is expected is garrenteed to be cranky for all… Plus there is making lunches every day for my oldest… I’ve taken to making batches of homemade blueberry muffins, apple carrot muffins, banana bread, cinnamon toast muffins, pancakes, waffles, zucchuni bread, french toast sticks, popsicles, frozen bananas for banana ice cream, cookies, smoothie ingredients, etc and freezing them so I can easily grab and make/reheat something really fast for any meal. I’m also on a budget and making homemade is cheaper and I tend to already have all the ingredients already. Things like raisons, popcorn with nutritional yeast, fruit, veggies, cheese, and granola make healthy cheap snacks that I don’t mind my kids eating an hour before dinner…

  24. 25
    Allysgrandma says

    Haha forgetting a fabulous post you wrote yourself…sounds like something I would do. Am currently trying to map out my entire LENT menu so of course I headed over here to get great ideas from you and your devoted followers!

  25. 26
    Sharon Thoms says

    Hi menu planning is so important when it comes to 4pm and you haven’t got a plan, you realize especially just how. Have you guys tried out the new free menu plan app from zip It’s awesome, they let you plan your meals, makes your grocery list including your list for your extra items and links to recipes. I’ve written about it here it really makes organizing dinners for the week so much easier.


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