I've talked about planning menus before and you can probably sense that it's sort of important around here. If you have a big family or even if it's a small one like ours, a plan will help prevent you from turning to a crazy ranting and raving loony-Moma at the end of the day. If only my husband would allow me to create a Summer Menu Plan like Clean Mama I'd be just peachy. But, he's a little bit more demanding. He did give in and allow me one meat free night a week.
Talk about a big "WOO-HOO!!!"
Some people plan for a week at a time, some plan for a whole month. It all depends on how your family works. If you shop week by week, I'd suggest planning for a week. If you shop once a month, than you'll be able to plan for a whole month. It's different each month here. I just go with what I have on hand. If my freezers are full and I can see I have enough to plan for more than a week, than that's how I plan. Follow?
Some big pointers from me today:
I think your biggest thing when it comes to menu planning is having a favorites list. All families have one whether you realize it or not. Some just have it in written form. We are one of those families. A list of favorite meals that we could eat at any time.
Why have a list like this?
Well, keeping a list of meals that your family loves gives you a guideline on food staples that you should probably always keep on hand in your pantry/freezer/fridge.
A few of our favorite meals are spaghetti, tacos, and homemade pizzas. Each week when I begin to plan my shopping trips, I take a look and make sure that I have ingredients for at least 2 of those meals. Ground beef, cheeses, sauce. If I don't, I add them to my list.
You want to always make sure that you have what it takes to prepare a meal off of the favorite list. Why? Your family loves it and you know it. No guessing game.
Our favorite list is always the first thing I see when I open up my home binder and my recipe binder. The recipes (if needed) for those meals are in their own section because they are our favorites. They deserve their own section.
2. Theme Your Days
Each week our menu looks a little different. The meals are varied but the theme stays the same. Monday- Mexican
Saturday- Grill or Dine-out
Sunday- Easy Meal
This makes planning go very fast.
3. Recipe Collection
I have a nice collection of recipes in two places: online and in a recipe binder. I'm working on it's organization right now so no peeking. I'll be showing it soon. Anyhoo...when I plan my menu I have my binder, my linline list and our favorites list to refer to.
4. Stock List
I have an up to date list of what I have in my freezers. Meats, veggies, etc. If I see a recipe that sparks my attention, I check that I have the stuff to get'er done. If it's too much and will break budget to get the items needed, I simply hold off. On that note, most of our recipes aren't ones that will break the bank. We are a family of four and cannot afford expensive meals unless it's a special occasion.
5. Plan for Extra
Oh I love this one. If you're preparing a simple meal, say spaghetti, make extra. Spaghetti can be reheated as leftovers for lunches or even eaten cold, frozen for later meals, or even revamped into something different. Last week I made spaghetti and prepared extra. I also had ricotta cheese. A combination of those two created a lazy spaghetti lasagna. Officially a new favorite. So easy. If you're grilling meats, grill extra for later in the week. Same with grilled veggies; they make for awesome quesadilla lunches! Keep this in mind!
So that's about it for my advice. I hope it helps a bit. Below you'll find some blogs that will help you with other questions and even give some more advice that I haven't.
Great sites to help with getting started:
Simple Mom provides you with some awesome ideas on menu planning.
Once A Month Mom has an entire series of information to read. It's SO helpful! Start here at the intro.
Life As Mom has a multitude of posts on menu planning. From printables to advice to actual menus. It's all there. To see some that stood out, click here, here, and here. She also has an ebook available to help organize other areas of your life as well as your kitchen. I love her site and helpful advice.
Life As Mom
A Little Knick Knack