Are you new to meal planning?
It can seem daunting and like some big program but really it's fairly easy. In fact you can customize it so that your meal planning works for you and your family.
You may find that it takes a bit of time to put together a family weekly menu, with sides, and main dish that your family will enjoy.
But once you get into the swing of things you'll wonder how you did without menu planning but until then here are some ways to speed up the process of getting comfortable with one of the best kept secrets of a well run household.
- Schedule it in: It's important to schedule your meal planning session. Why? Sitting down at a set time during the week to plan your future meals will keep you from making these plans in haste. Sure you can think about it before hand but put it to paper (or computer) at a set time. Get your supplies out and put it all down. Whether you plan for a week of meals at a time, overnight planning, or a month at a time have a set time when you will plan your menus. If you plan for a week or more at a time you will most likely need a grocery flier if you intend to buy what is on sale and in season. I grocery shop on Wednesday but I meal plan on Sunday evening with my cookbooks and my grocery store flyer.
- Poll the Family: One of the best ways to pick a menu for your family is to get their input on what they like to eat. Make a Family Favorites Page and sit down with your family. Ask them what meals from the past they have really enjoyed. What would they like to eat again. This can be fun. As they list them off fill in your form and write where to find the recipe.
- Get Your Tools Together: Start with your menu planning template: It can be as simple or complex as you want. A simple form with the days of the week and a slot for main dishes and sides is perfect and simple. How much information do you need to tackle your daily meals? Do you need to know where the recipes are? Do you need sections to list what is for breakfast and lunch?
- Updated Pantry and Freezer Lists: As you plan your meals you'll want to know what items you can pull from your pantry and freezer. This is where lists come into play. Kep a list of what you have in both your freezer and your pantry. Also, note on your lists if it's the last of such items so you can replenish them on your shopping day.
- A grocery shopping list: Be sure to make your grocery list ready to fill out as you meal plan. Your meal plan could likely come from what is on sale so having your local grocery fliers nearby is a good idea. And any coupons you may need.
When you try a new recipe be sure you bookmark it, print it, or add the recipe to your recipe management software. I can't tell you how many times my family has requested a repeat of a new recipe I might have tried and I have to dig to find it again. Cut down on the search time and have the recipe readily accessible. If it didn't go over well you can simply delete it.
Follow a Pattern: Another easy option is to give each day of the week it's own entree type. For example…
- Monday – Soup
- Tuesday – Crockpot
- Wednesday – Chicken
- Thursday – Meatless
- Friday – Fish
- Saturday – Leftovers
- Sunday – A roast of some sort that can be saved for leftovers
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