Have you heard of menu planning? Busy parents and grandparents everywhere are jumping on board with this idea and finding out the awesome benefits that come along with menu planning. What is it you ask? Menu Planning is simply planning ahead and knowing exactly what you will eat and when.
You may think that you already do this, as you have some vague idea as to what you will eat each day of the week. Perhaps you mentally plan your meals around what you grabbed at the grocery store. Maybe you are one of those people who stops at the market daily and picks up for food the nights meal. You may think that this is working for your family, but if you give menu planning a real try and do it the right way you will soon realize how much money and time you can save.
Step 1: Choose Your Organizational Tool
Some people choose to write their menu plan down on plain notebook paper, while others make it a note in their phone. Crafty parents whip up darling menu calendars to display in the kitchen, and some make use of the free printables found online. There is no wrong tool, as long as you pick one that works for you.
The first step is to decide how you will keep track of your menus, grocery lists, and recipes for the week. Choose any of the methods above, or come up with your own. Some people buy a 3-ring binder and use it just for this purpose. They use a hole punch and put a bunch of blank printables in their binder, and print out the recipes they will use for the week. It doesn’t matter how you plan to get your groceries and meals organized, as long as it works in the end.
Step 2: Pick Out Some Delicious and Healthy Recipes
Go through your cookbooks, surf the web, watch your favorite cooking shows, or look through Pinterest (see our ever growing Food For Family Dinners Pinterest board for lots of yummy options). Gather up your favorite recipes and some new ones you have been meaning to try. Bookmark them so you can find them later, jot them down, or print them out.
Want to get the family involved? Look for recipes that the kiddos can help with or recipes that your elder will want to make. The more you can get others involved, the better it is for you!
Step 3: Write it Down
Now that you have chosen your recipes and where you will write them down, get busy planning out your week of meals. For each day of the week, write down what your family will eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Make a second list for ingredients that you will need to buy at the store.
Having this menu plan with a grocery list means that you can get everything you need for the week in one single trip. You won’t be running back to the store for items you forgot, you won’t be wasting time on extra trips, and you’ll save money on fuel if you only go once per week. Since you know what your family will be eating and you won’t buy extra items you won’t need, you may also see your grocery bill go down.
Step 4: Follow Through
You have your menu plan, your recipes, and everything you need for a week’s worth of food for your family. Make sure everyone knows when you are eating what, so that everyone is on the same page. Menu planning is a lot of fun once you get into it, but if you don’t follow through, all of your hard work was for nothing.
Make your week easier by prepping all produce for the week as soon as you get home. Wash fruits and veggies, and cut them up for snacks and for meals. Many times you can cook meats ahead of time in large batches, and use them as needed. Imagine how easy your weeknight would be if you could come home from work and dinner was already half done. If your veggies are washed and chopped and your meat is cooked, you will save a lot of time.
As an added bonus, you will no longer be tempted to pick up a bag of greasy burgers on the way home. Your family will enjoy home cooked meals, and they can be as fresh and healthy as you wish. If you try menu planning and LOVE it, just make sure you mix things up each week so your family doesn’t get tired of the same foods.
Do you menu plan for your family? What are some tips that have helped you get your meals organized? If you have comments or suggestions that can help others get started, let us know. We LOVE comments!