Monday, June 18, 2012

Menu Planning- 5 Simple Steps to More Organized Meal Plans

Recently I have had a few friends ask me about meal planning.  Simply put, this is what  I do:

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:
Sunday- Crock-pot
Monday- Chicken
Tuesday- Italian
Wednesday- Meatless or Seafood
Thursday- Mexican
Friday- Homemade Pizza
Saturday-  Beef

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.

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