[This is a continuation of my blog written yesterday. To read that post first, click here].
A couple of years ago, I realized how tired I had become of the age old question, "What's for dinner?" It wasn't so much the kids that bothered me with this question, it was myself having to ask this question day in and day out that became tiresome. I devised a solution to my problem: a dinner calendar. Before baby #3 came along, I was did fairly well creating a one month dinner calendar and getting all of my grocery shopping done at the beginning of the month. Nowadays, I am lucky to get two weeks planned out at a time. However, it has helped a lot to plan these meals out in advance. As I find new recipes that I want to try throughout the week or month, it's written on my calendar and I am able to formulate a grocery list much more easily and quickly.
With my mom's lack of dinner planning, I thought this system might be helpful for her. When I first brought the idea up to her, she was not happy (to say the least).
"I don't like you guys picking me on me. I would never treat my mother like this. I would never do that."
I realized that she felt somewhat under attack, which was not my intention. So I put my arms around her (which I think threw her off a little bit), and told her,
"Mom I'm not trying to pick on you. I'm trying to help you because I love you. I know sometimes you have a hard time thinking of what to cook, so I thought this might be helpful for you. I do it, too, and it helps me out a lot. I'm just trying to help you."
She had no response to this, but she eventually settled down and followed the dinner calendar (but not before she called her sister to complain about how we were all picking on her).
So, at the beginning of each month, I sit down with mom and plan out a calendar for the month (or at least a week or two at a time). From there, we make out a grocery list with the ingredients she will need for her meals and I usually take her shopping to find what is on her list. We always leave Sundays open for family dinners, one day a week for leftovers and sometimes schedule them to come eat at my house. We do a mixture of simple, frozen meals (such as frozen pizza with fresh fruit) and other home cooked meals. It is repetitive...there are a lot of taco and pasta nights, but at least there is something on the calendar. I try to help her plan out fresh fruits and veggies to eat as well, so it's more than just frozen mixed vegetables every night.
I admit, I've been slacking a little on the calendar this summer. With five kids home all day long, and vacations and many day trips, I haven't been as dilligent in my or my mom's calendar. The kids are back in school next week and I am ready to get back into my routine and get mom back on track with her calendar.
Some family members have asked about bringing meals in, just to help out. At this point, the dinner calendar seems to be working. I think it is beneficial to keep her doing her normal tasks for as long as possible. There will come a time when the dinner calendar will no longer be effective. At that time, we will come up with a Plan B. But for now, this system seems to be working.
On a side note, if you like this system, you can get your own calendar white board from Amazon. It is magnetic, can hang on your fridge, and can be changed out monthly. There are several to choose from, but this is similar to the one I have: