Before I begin explaining why I menu plan allow me a moment to dispel a few preconceived ideas. I don't menu plan because I am some great foodie-I'm not. I don't menu plan because I am super organized and need to have every area of my life in control-I don't. And I don't menu plan because this is the way my mother always did it-she didn't. Actually, I menu plan for five completely different reasons.
1. The first reason is because I believe God has called me to be a wife and mommy. That may seem very obvious since I have been married for nineteen years and have six children. But for me when I met my husband I fell deeply in love. People would say, "I'm so in love-I'm on cloud nine," but I would say, "I'm on cloud 109!" I knew God had brought us together, so He didn't have to twist my arm to marry him. I wanted to marry him and didn't really see being Ben's wife as a 'calling.' The same is true with having my six children. So I was married with children and asked God, "What is my calling?" It took me a few years to figure it out, but eventually I got it. Well, with my calling of 'wifery' and 'mommyhood,' one of the roles I have is to prepare a dinner for my family each night.
2. Now, that does not mean that just because I was called I was equipped because I was NOT! I was afraid, even frightened of cooking and even cook books! I couldn't hear the word recipe without cringing! Just to give you a little example of what life was like before menu planning...each day at around 4pm my stomach would drop and some days I would just start crying just over the fact that I had to make dinner for my family. After a day of home schooling, changing diapers, nursing, laundry, etc. I had to still make DINNER! It felt completely overwhelming. I menu plan because I believe that in all areas of our lives God desires to set us free from fear. He wants His perfect love to infiltrate every part of our heart. Why menu plan? To allow God to break the fear!
3. The third reason I menu plan is because it allows for there to be peace at the dinner table. Prior to planning my meal I would come to the table on most nights disappointed in myself. I usually pulled something out of the freezer, (microwaved the rock, frozen meat until it was almost cooked instead of just thawed), and quickly threw something together. Cooking for me brought a level of anxiety and when I sat down at the table it was still on me. I felt ashamed and disappointed in myself. My heart wanted dinner time to be a time where we sat and talked about our day. A place where my hubby could lead us in a spiritual conversation, but I couldn't help feeling bad about myself. I felt much shame for not being a true wife and mother who knew how to cook. Now, with menu planning I can cook with confidence and sit down in peace knowing I have provided something good for my family and I am not ashamed of it.
4. Another reason I menu plan is it actually saves my family money. I used to go food shopping withOUT a shopping list! I would go aisle by aisle and just buy things that I thought would make a nice meal- ravioli, tacos, whole chicken-anything. But on arriving home I would find three bags of ravioli already in the freezer, boxes of tacos in the pantry, etc. I was over buying! I bought without knowing what was in my cabinets or without using up what I already had. That was completely frustrating. Menu planning also saves me time. There are no more last minute trips to the store to get an ingredient needed for a recipe. No running out or sending hubby to the store for last minute ingredients to go with a last minute dinner idea.
5. Lastly, I menu plan because it allows my family to help me. If I am running behind I can tell one of my children or hubby to look at my menu calendar and they can get out all the ingredients and/or begin making the dinner. The menu allows anyone to help prepare dinner, it is no longer only on my shoulders.
So, those are my five reasons to menu plan. I've been doing this for eight years and it really has blessed my family and I, but mostly me, by helping me face my fears, setting me free, and bringing peace.