Menu Planning

Menu Planning

Free up more of your time and energy. Don’t allow anxiety to creep into your day because you don’t know what to make for supper. Why run several times to the grocery store for ingredients when you have better things to do with your time? Decrease some of your stress by getting into the habit of menu planning. In the long run, it will save you time and money. You will eat better and be a happier person.

Menu planning allows you to get on top of the daily responsibilities of feeding your hungry family. You have to seize the moment, establish a sense of direction and gain control. How wonderful it is when you know what you need when to take food out of the freezer, how to use everything in the fridge and so forth. Meal planning allows you to lower your grocery bills and does a one-stop shop. You know what the game plan is and will rarely have to grab take-out meals or be in a panic. You can even use leftovers more effectively. Here are some helpful hints to get you going:

  • Regularly set aside time to plan your menus.
  • Plan your menus in advance (one week, two weeks, a month) on a sheet of paper, calendar or dry erase board.
  • Post it on your fridge or inside your cupboard door for easy referral.
  • Plan each week to include a variety of foods, ie. chicken, beef, pork, fish, and/or meatless dishes that alternate with pasta, potato, rice, quinoa, rice noodles etc. Serve them with a variety of salads or vegetables. Top off with great desserts.
  • Dovetail your work so that you cover more than one base. For example, consider the leftover meat you have from one meal as part of the recipe for another meal. Chop up twice as much salad and save it in a Ziploc bag for the next day.
  • Take into consideration prep time for each item so that you never overload yourselves with too many intensive items.
  • When you’re at a loss and want to do something more easily, have your family tell you some meals they miss that they wish you would cook. Ask questions like, “What’s your favorite chicken dish? hamburger dish? pasta recipe?” etc. etc. You will see your weekly menu quickly take form and you will have many happy faces around your dinner table as a result.
  • Have a list in your kitchen of fast, easy meals. This will help immensely when something unexpected develops and you have to throw something together in a hurry.
  • Add variety to breakfast, lunches and snacks by posting a list of ideas inside one of your cupboards. Everyone likes a change, particularly you and your husband. Oftentimes just altering the type of bread used makes a big difference, ie. Rye bread, bagel, pumpernickel, pita, crackers.
    • Breakfast examples–
          • pancakes (keep a homemade mix available)
          • french toast – egg mcmuffin – boiled eggs
          • porridge – oatmeal – granola with yogurt
          • hashbrowns, bacon, eggs – cereal
          • eggs and toast – omelets with vegetables and cheese

Menu planning gives you a clear advantage in destressing your meals and using your time and money wisely. Give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Here are some forms you can use to help speed up the menu planning process. Hope they help. I know they made a big difference for me in getting organized.

You can even jot things down on an extra calendar you have in your kitchen just for dinner ideas. This helps you see things at a quick glance and gain a sense of control as well.

You might find it beneficial to have a grocery list posted on your fridge door where family members can add items to be bought next time someone goes grocery shopping. Even better, consider making a customized list that will speed up the time you spend shopping. When you have a bit of extra time, pack a pad of paper and pen to take to the store. As soon as you enter the grocery store, write down the first item you would put into your cart as you enter the door. Then go aisle by aisle and write down in order each item you would consider buying for your typical purchases over the month. Continue doing this until you get to the checkout. Here you have a list of everything you would normally buy cataloged according to the moment you would cross its path.   If you normally do a one store shop, this approach saves oodles of time. Here is a sample of one I used years ago. See if you can decipher what I would pick up by my abbreviated forms. The abbreviations helped me to put four of these on a sheet of paper which I could then print off, cut up and have handy to post on my fridge each week. Family members could easily circle what we would need, put numbers beside items needed in quantity and pencil in anything extra-ordinary that was an exception for the upcoming buy. May this prove a helpful device in making grocery shopping and meal planning less tedious for you!




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