1. Find all your favorite recipes and organize them in a way that works for you.
I chose to use a binder. I only put recipes in that I have cooked several times and I know my family loves. In a perfect world each recipe would be beautifully type, but I just had my oldest daughter help me hole punch my recipes and put them in.
2. Choose a theme for each night.
This is an idea that I learned from the "Food Nanny," (look at her website, it is a great resource) This is a great way to narrow your search for each day.
Our themes are:
Wednesday- Meatless or Seafood
Friday- Homemade Pizza
3. I prefer to divide my recipes in my binder into different categories for quick menu planning.
Yes, it is true, some meals that are crock-pot are also chicken. I just choose which group I want to store it in.
4. Write out your plan.
Menu Planning takes time. For many years, each week I sat down and planned my menu. I slowly transition to planning my menu every 10 days and then every 2 weeks. Now I plan for 3 months at a time. It is nice to have the plan set up. I just type what is for dinner on my google calendar that I do all of my planning on. When something comes up or I need to change what we are having for dinner it is easy for me to move that nights plan to another day. There are only a couple of repeat dinners in a 3 month time period. I love to have a variety of healthy meals.
5. Write out a shopping list.
I plan for 3 months at a time. I go to Sam's Club at the beginning of each month and buy things that we will need that month: cans of chicken broth, diced tomatoes, frozen chicken, diapers. . . Each week I write out a menu for what I need to get at the grocery store that week. In an ideal world I would only go to the grocery store every other week, but we always run out of produce, milk, or someone needs a birthday present for a party or a special treat for school, so I end up at the grocery store every week.