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  August 27, 2014
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Back to School Planning - Ideas and Suggestions for Parents and Teachers

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Evening Chaos: Menu Planning can Help

How often does one get to come home from school or work and have a relaxing evening filled with nothing else to do except to chill out? Ha! Almost never, right?  

Usually it looks something like this – 4:00 pm, get home from school, grab a snack, change clothes, start on homework.  But then Mom has to run to the grocery store and stop at the another store to get the thing you need for school tomorrow, and little brother needs to be picked up from Billy's house.  Mom, I'm hungry.  One more stop, then we can go home.  Ok, once home, what do you want to eat?  Ah shoot, who drank the last of the milk.  What do you mean we don't have any cheese left? Ok, we'll just have to have sandwiches because you have to be at Girl Scouts by 6:30.  Where's the peanut butter?

The above scene doesn't sound too enjoyable to me.  I used to think mornings were about the worst time of the day; getting everyone up, fed, dressed and to school on time.  But I've had a change of heart.  Evenings can be even more chaotic. One easy method to simply your evenings is to plan your meals in advance.  A little menu planning can help immensely.

Whatever day you typically go to the grocery store, that's the day you will plan your entire week's evening meals.  Most people need to stop at the store at least once during the week for more bread or milk; I'm not referring to that trip to the store.

Once you know what you're having for dinner each day, you can plan ahead to ensure there is cheese in the refrigerator for the ham and cheese sub sandwiches.  One suggestion is to use colored stickers.  If you have certain items that you need to have available to complete a meal, put a sticker on the food item.  That will let family members know to pick something else to snack on because it's a little hard to make tuna salad if there isn't any tuna.

Prepare as much as you can in advance.  Perhaps you'll brown the ground sirloin for the spaghetti sauce and pop it into the freezer for a few days. Or if you have a few spare moments in the morning (ha! What's a spare morning moment, right?) but as I was saying, toss a meal in the crock pot and turn it on low so it simmers all day. It'll be ready to eat the moment you walk in the door.

Simplification is the key.  A few minutes of preparation will save you oodles of frustration later!

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