Mar 5, 2014

Simplifying My Menu Planning

Simpler Menu Planning -

The benefits of menu planning are undeniable: You save money by not eating out or picking up take-out. You also save money buying only mostly what you need, and not buying food that just goes to waste. You can even save money by having leftovers for lunch the next day. And you tend to eat healthier, since you control the ingredients.

However, I've been looking to simplify my monthly menu planning. When I first started planning weekly menus, a monthly plan felt so overwhelming. But Gina, Camille, and others encouraged me to try it, so a couple of years ago, I finally did.

I've been amazed at how much easier it is to plan a weekly menu when the monthly menu is already done. And I'm much more likely to plan a weekly menu if I've already done a monthly one. Oddly enough, even when I don't follow my menu plan, I'm still more likely to make dinner at home than when I don't have a menu plan at all. But at the end of each month, I dreaded sitting down to make the next month's meal plan.

Wendy suggested that each month, I start with a list of meals that I make regularly, and then fill in some of the days with other meals. I thought that was brilliant, so I promptly created a list of 30 favorite meals, which I referred to last week when I was drawing up my menu plan for March. I still needed my calendar of family events - in particular, the boys' sports schedule, which once again includes weeknight games, in addition to weeknight practices, weekend practices, and weekend games. My menu plan has to be carefully constructed to take into account nights when food has to be ready the moment we walk in the door, or even taken to the field. {Admittedly, sometimes I just throw my hands up in the air and go with fast food or take-out. But it happens far less often when I have a menu plan than when I don't.}

Image via by Witthaya Phonsawat.


Wendy said...

Thanks for the shoutout and link up! You converted me to menu planning last year and I still haven't missed a week in 2014!

Chief Family Officer said...

Wow! That's impressive :) And thank *you*!!!

Val said...

I did a huge cooking weekend a few weeks ago. I've obviously made a few of the recipes a few too many times over the last 6 or so months. A recipe we love has become boring. lol

Creating that pdf of your fav meals is a great idea. Instead of getting stuck in a rut, can go through them and swap them out more each month. I had no idea I'd make this certain recipe so many times.

Chief Family Officer said...

Oh, that definitely happens to me too! That's one really great thing about the monthly plan, is that you tend not to make the same thing twice in a month (maybe variations of one, but usually not the exact same thing). The list of favorites just helps speed things along! :D