One of the most productive habits I have put into place over the years without question has to be menu planning. This not only saves me time but money, and all but eliminates the “what are we having for dinner” from my family, and it is a huge stress reliever for me when I know I don’t have to think about it each day. I plan a bit differently then most though. Here is the method to my madness.
First I look at our Calendar for the upcoming week. I actually have two calendars. I have a google calendar that I use for all planning. I also have a huge calendar hanging in our Family Command Center. I consult my google calendar and plan my menu around that.
I do assign meals (specifically dinners) to days based on the calendar, however I learned with my family it is good to make sure I have a couple other quick meals to fall back on as inevitably there will be a day where the family or even myself looks at the menu and thinks “I really don’t want this tonight” . The biggest reason for menu planning is to make sure that all the nutrition is covered, but that I have enough ingredients on hand to make a different dish should that situation arise. It is also great because as we all know, no matter how much planning , goes into our week there will be a day that everything we planned for just doesn’t turn out that way. Ok so someone will get sick, the car will break in the middle of rush hour on the freeway, the dryer will break in the middle of laundry day etc. You get the idea right? We have to plan for the “unexpected”.
After I consult the calendar I then consult my Recipe Binder. It is here that I will go through and pick out usually one or two “new to us” recipes to try and then of course the tried and true recipes. I have different sections for “quick & easy”, “tried and true”, “new to us” , etc. I don’t just choose enough for the week, I choose about 9-10 recipes to add into my menu planning. I do a lot of my menu planning on the go while I am sitting at the kiddos sports practices, or in the waiting room at appointments etc. so it goes into my Bizzy Mom Daily Bag a lot of the time.
I then write out my menu in the following sections: Dinners, Lunches, Breakfasts, and to make ahead for freezer. The “to make ahead for freezer” usually covers the quick extra dinners or it is where I will throw in the extra menu options I came up with. I do sometimes put in snacks as well. After that I make out my grocery list. I do shop once a week usually because most of what I make is from scratch and when I shop I typically shop the perimeters of the grocery store. I will do a later post on my shopping trip. But for fresh ingredients you need to shop more frequently. I do however stock up once a month for non-perishables and paper products etc. My whole goal is to have enough ingredients to cover meals for each day to save time, money, and sanity. My other goal is to make sure that our nutrition needs are met and it is easier to see that if it is written down. Once my menu is set and grocery list planned, then the menu goes up on the bulletin board in our Family Command Center. Then it is shopping time.