Specifically, I want users to be able to click directly from my menu to actively updating category pages
You can do that now - no plugin is required.
Static Pages and dynamic Category Pages are not the same. The former cannot automatically update but the latter do.
This is an example of a static page URL.
Category Pages http://en.support.wordpress.com/category-pages/
This is an example of a category URL.Study it closely please and note that only dynamic category pages can automatically update.
By default the front page of the blog is the post that displays all posts in your blog. Though there is only one dynamic page in a blog for posts (not pages) http://en.support.wordpress.com/post-vs-page/ and we cannot post to more than that one page, we can create the appearance that we have posted to more than one page.
We organize posts by assigning categories to them. You can create a custom menu and add the dynamic categories pages into the custom menu.
There are many common errors, misunderstandings and misconceptions when creating custom menus http://wpbtips.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/posts-on-pages/ and there are some tweaks you can use to improve your custom menu as well.