Tackle It Tuesday – A Meal Planning Back-Up System

Now that my kids are safely nestled in their respective schools, I am able to catch up on some of the things that I let slide over the summer. One area that needs a little attention in my abode is the menu-planning task.

This item on my “to-do” list is a big deal because I am aware that I have 1,095 opportunities to make a meal for my busy family, not including snacks or party foods. Since I am a planner by nature, plugging entrée choices into a weekly schedule is not a big deal but it seems that what I plan for at the beginning of the week may not always be a realistic choice on an unplanned, chaotic day.

In my home, the time between the end of school and the dinner hour is our busiest period of the day. We are attempting to transition from lively, active events into more focused, quiet activities. It seems that homework, chores and the extra tasks I am involved in all hit around that dinner preparation time. I peek at my menu planner and cross my fingers that I did not concoct a meal that requires hours of preparation, using every pan and utensil in my home.

To assist me in those crazy days, I developed my Quick Meal table. The Quick Meal table is a back-up list of menu items that can be prepared in a short time. I simply created a table with headings to include:

  • Entrée – the main course
  • Side Dish – possible additions to the meal
  • Supplies – ingredients I need to keep on hand to prepare the entrée
  • Source – the cookbook page or recipe source for the meal

This week I updated my list with new recipes so that my family will not run out of the house, screaming from boredom. Here is a small sample of my new Quick Meal table:


Side Dish



Black bean quesadilla Salad, corn Flour tortilla, black   refried beans, salsa sour cream S.L. cookbook, page 46
Cheese and Veggie Omelet Salad, fruit Cheese, eggs or liquid   whites, tomato, pepper, spinach Me!
Turkey Meatballs Whole wheat noodles, salad Frozen turkey meat-balls, marinara sauce, Parmesan cheese Me!
Fettuccine with Peas Salad, sliced tomatoes Fettuccine, frozen peas, butter, chicken broth, Parmesan cheese R.M. cookbook, page 84

I am sure you get the idea from this example. Once I completed the table, I printed it, slipped it in a plastic page protector and hung it inside my cupboard door. If I have recipes that are on a page rather than in a cookbook, I put the recipe in the protector also.

On grocery shopping days, I routinely check my above list to make sure I have items from the supplies column on hand. I admit, some of the meals may not be the most gourmet options, but it prevents me from fast food runs that have a lower nutritional factor and higher price tag.

I hope this Quick Meal table helps to jump start a menu back up plan of your own. What is your “go-to” back up meal plan on busy days?

Photo credit: foodswings

Calling All Tacklers!

We’re looking for YOU – guest bloggers to post about your own tackles right here. If you are interested in showing off your tackles (we all need some tips and ideas!) then send a quick email to staceynerdin@msn.com. Thanks for your inspiring tackles!!

Mom Bloggers — what are you tackling this week?

Link up your Tackle it Tuesday post…

Tell us what you’re up to with all your other tackles… housework and otherwise… add your link to your tackle in the Linky below!

We are Tackling Our To-Do Lists Together and making housework bloggable — Each week on Tuesday, we are posting before and after pictures of a project or trouble area that we tackled this week.

Find out more about how Tackle It Tuesday began.
The project can be little or big – whatever you want.

Basically, Tackle It Tuesday is about giving ourselves incentive, deadlines and satisfaction in tackling all our tasks — whether household or otherwise.

If you tackled a project this week, just add a comment and add your link below.


  1. says

    My favorite emergency dinner is meatball soup. Take partially thawed ground meat and form it into balls. Drop it into boiling chicken stock. Add noodles. Serve as is to picky kids. Add three handfuls of frozen baby spinach leaves for adults. I like it seasoned with soy sauce and a little sesame oil. The kids like it with a can of baby peas and carrots added.


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