November 2, 2011

Menu Planning 101: A How-To Guide

I love going to the grocery store.  Call me crazy, but I do.  It is something I look forward to every Sunday (or sometimes Monday) afternoon. 

Now, with that being said, I don't have kids, or picky eaters to feed, but I hope that when those two things do happen I still enjoy the process as much as I do today. 

Here is my Menu Planning tutorial 101.  This is how I  plan each week and make my life easier.  I hope it works for you!
Planning a weekly menu can not only save you money but also help keep your family healthy and deter those last minute fast food stops or take out orders on the way home from work.  

Once you have a jumping off point (Recipe Index, a how-to is coming soon) menu planning only takes a few minutes each week.  

My tips for healthy and fast menu planning:

1. First, pull out your calendar with the events listed for the week. 

2. Next, on a piece of paper (I use the same paper for my menu and grocery list), list the days of the week and the events for the given days.  I list mine on the left hand side so my menu is on the right.

3. Decide how much time you have to devote to cooking each night, along with level of difficulty.

4. Decide what types of protein you want to include in the weekly menu.  

  • I always try to include a vegetarian meal at least once or twice a week as well as not eating too much red meat.  
  • Another great idea is to make one of your nights a "Brinner" night, otherwise known as breakfast for dinner, each week. 
  • You can choose any protien schedule that works for you.

5. Then, start “plugging and chugging” meals. I get ideas from my recipe index so that I’m not cooking the same dishes each week. 

  • The menu items listed on your recipe index should be easy, no fail recipes for weeknight cooking.  Multi-step dishes are discouraged!

  • I often hand my recipe index to my husband and ask him to pick a few dishes to add to the menu plan for the week.  It's nice sometimes not to have to make the decision. 

6.  Once you have entered your meals for the week along with sides, you can start making your grocery list for that week. 

  • Plan day by day and figure out what ingredients are needed for each meal as well as the other needs for everday (lunches, personal, home, etc). 
Happy Planning!

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