Capsule wardrobes are all the rage right now and I must admit, it sounds appealing. Having only a few quality items, all of which happen to be your “favorite”, hanging in your closet. When something goes out of style or becomes worn, you simply replace that item with something new or more current. While I have yet to accomplish this with my clothing, I did manage to apply the concept to our family dinner menu. I call it my capsule menu.
I’m huge into meal planning. I feel that it helps you make better food choices, saves you money, and removes stress from a could-be chaotic time of day, the early evening. With so many families rushing between school, practices, lessons and the ever present homework; “What’s for dinner” can easily turn into yet another trip through the drive thru without proper planning.
However, I have found myself in an interesting life season and between crazy schedules and lack of energy I just didn’t feel like planning some big elaborate menu each week. As a short term fix we started doing a lot of dump and bake meals that got the job done but weren’t the healthiest.
Let’s be real…we were having chicken nuggets, spaghetti, and hot dogs weekly with a few random things thrown in to fill up the week.
While there’s no shame in ‘doing what you gotta do’ short term, I knew that couldn’t continue for long. That said, I also couldn’t dismiss the idea of having a set bank of meals that we simply rotate though. A list of all of our ‘favorites,’ so to speak, that we would eat on some form of schedule and from this idea my capsule menu was born!
First, I spent some time compiling a list of my family’s favorite meals. After I considered different variations of said meals I had a list of 13 meal possibilities. Our family eats dinner at home about 5 nights a week (Saturdays we do leftovers or are out running around and eat at a restaurant and Sunday is always dinner with the family) so, 13 meals was almost three weeks of meals!
Then, I took into consideration the meals we’re not eating right now because it’s summer and no one really wants to eat a steaming bowl of soup when it’s 90 degrees and humid outside. Adding in those meals I had a total of 19 meals.
Almost a month of meals, all of which my family happily eats, with no real work or effort involved. I know what ingredients to buy, I have the recipes memorized and many of them can be prepared in 30-45 minutes. Perfect for my busy family!
Now, does this mean we will never try anything new again? Of course not! I still surf Pinterest when I have a quiet moment (Ha! Quiet moment, so funny!) and watch the occasional cooking show. I’m sure we’ll try new things from time to time but for right now, in our current season, our capsule menu is just about perfect and it may be just the fix your family needs too!
Need some inspiration? Here’s our list of favorites!
- Grilled Chicken Salads
- Steak Salads
- Chef Salads
- Fish (grilled or breaded), rice and veggie
- Kielbasa (or sausage), potatoes and peppers (kiddos usually have turkey or beef hot dogs)
- Club Sandwiches, chips, fruit
- Pizza, fruit salad
- Tacos/Quesadillas (our littles can’t do tacos without mess so we have both but could be two meals)
- Grilled Meat (chicken, pork, steak), potatoes, veggie
- Roast (slow cooker), usually with potatoes and a veggie
- Sausage Tortellini Soup (we brown Italian sausage and add it to this to make it heartier)
- Chicken Corn Soup
- Hamburger Gravy and veggies
- Jumbo Meatballs (no one will eat meatloaf but they love these…go figure), noodles and veggie
I linked some of the recipes but if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out. Also, we like salad so we have it once a week at least, we just rotate between chicken, steak, and chef. Same goes with the ‘meat and potato’ meals, we have one of them weekly and just rotate between meats (right now we’re grilling a lot).
How will you use your Capsule Menu?
There are many ways I’m sure this idea could be implemented but all you really need is:
- A list of your family’s favorite meals- You can create something fun that’s reusable or just save it as a file on your computer (Easy to edit!) and print one off every month or so.
- A way to choose which meals you’re having each week- I use a little magnetic notepad that sticks to my refrigerator (which cost me all of $1), I’m sure you could also create something reusable if you wish.
- Choose which meals you’re having weekly and cross them off your master list, easy peasy!
My capsule menu was a happy accident, it solved a problem for us and has worked wonderfully for our family. I would love to hear from you if you give it a try, who’s up for being my guinea pig?