The Rotating Meal Plan and How to Use a Thermos

Today is our last free Thursday of summer vacation. We have one last non-cleaning thing to get done before then: meal planning and prep.

I struggle with meal planning as a whole. I saw a video by Carolanne Miljavac  this morning. It was captioned “…my cooking style is ‘I grew up poor.'” Yep. That sounds about right.

But my family doesn’t like rice and chicken leg quarters every-other-night punctuated by marinara sauce on rice and “leftovers casserole” with rice. So.

I can’t remember when this happened. I wanna say it was in the 2006 range. I decided that I couldn’t take another bite of hamburger helper without puking and I couldn’t afford, or make much else.

So I finally learned to cook.

Hours of dial up internet later – those were the days – I found Miss Maggie, the original Hillbilly Housewife and The Food Nanny. I also signed up for the Kraft Food Magazine, which was free at the time.

If you’re reading this and you’re still in high school, do yourself a favor and take a Foods class. Cooking is a skill everyone needs.

Guaranteed, I’ll be bringing these up in later posts. But for the sake of today’s post, I’m going to focus on something I learned from watching The Food Nanny.

Meal planning is so much easier when you come up with a nightly – or in the case of breakfasts and lunches, daily “theme.” School cafeterias do this too.

Early on in my housewifing endeavor, my mantra was “Do what the pros do.” If hotels have all white sheets and all white towels, and schools theme their menus…well then, by golly, that’s what I was going to do.

And that’s how we came up with our rotating meal plans.

Breakfast (Mon-Fri have to be portable)

  • M. Cereal/Oatmeal
  • T. Sandwiches
  • W. Bars
  • Th. Pockets
  • F. Bowls
  • S. Help Yourself (because Mommy wants to stay in bed)
  • Su. Diner-style

Lunches (Mon-Fri have to stay safe in a lunch box)

  • M. Soup
  • T. Wraps
  • W. Pasta
  • Th. Sandwich
  • F. Salad

Saturday and Sunday lunches are more determined by what we’re doing on the weekends. Usually, it’s something kid-friendly, like Mac and Cheese or hot dogs.


  • M. Mexican
  • T. Comfort Food
  • W. Around the World
  • Th. Fast and Simple (Football practice and pretty much all after-school events are on Thursdays)
  • F. Fancy
  • S. Soup
  • Su. Man Food (Grilling in the Spring/Summer and Tailgate type food)

So. The million-dollar question: How do you keep food hot in a lunch box?

With the humble thermos.



There is a trick to keeping the food inside a thermos toasty all day – or at least until lunch. You have to heat the air between the inner and outer walls.


  1. Boil water in a kettle or pot.
  2. Pour into the thermos and put the lid on.
  3. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  4. While that sits, heat whatever it is that you want to put into the thermos as hot as it can get without burning. This is best done on the stovetop because a microwave will leave cold spots.
  5. Empty the water. If you want to save water, you can pour it into another container to make tea or wash dishes, or allow to cool and drink it or water plants.
  6. Put your hot food in the hot thermos. If you work outside in the winter or if it’s a long time until lunch, you can also wrap a dish towel around it before putting it in your lunch box for added insulation.

Tomorrow At some point this weekend (because THE CHILDREN have been bickering all day and we don’t have any clean dishes and The Husband is coming home two and a half hours early and I haven’t made it to the store and I have to get my DIY insurance appraisal into the new insurance company in two hours or my rates will go up), I’ll show you how we prep breakfast and lunch ahead.


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