Friday, September 9, 2011

Menu Planning: What is it and how will it help me...

So in my last post I mentioned planning your menu for the next month ahead of time to save time, money, frustration, and sanity... After that post I had a few emails that asked me about this so I am now going to go into more detail (I will also be writing this post as I plan my own menu!!)

First I grab my supplies!!

  1. school lunch menus (that way I am not doubling up on what they are already eating)
  2. 4 pieces of scrap papers
  3. a blank monthly calender (can be found online and printed out or use a calender you already have)
  4. pen and pencil (one of each for me)
  5. and an extra piece of paper for later

First thing I do is grab the school menu. My kids are in 1st and 3rd grade which means they go to different schools (in our small town we have 3 primary schools K-2, and then one intermediate 3-5, and then one Middle and one High School so the kids have small schools that can focus on their needs) so I have two different menus to go by!! So if Roo's school is serving Homemade Mac and Cheese and N's school is serving Orange Chicken on 9/8 that means those two meals are off the menu for that day.

So with that in mind I start of with four pieces of scrap paper and write the same thing down each page

  • M
  • T
  • W
  • Th
  • F
  • St
  • S
And then under each day the same thing

  • M
  1. Breakfast
  2. Lunch
  3. Dinner
Pretty simple so far, right...

Well now comes the difficult part!! You have to write a meal under each subcategory!! Trust me this is much easier said then done!! Now you have to come up with 30 breakfasts, 30 lunches (if you pack your own, have kids at home or bring your own to work), and then finally 30 dinners.  Honestly I always check with my butcher first! I see what are in their package deals for that month and what package(s) I am going to buy and then build on that. If you need ideas you could ask everyone in your family to list their top five favorite meals and incorporate that into your menu or you can check out recipe sites!

On the back I write everything I need for that week to make the meals I listed and then by the end of all four lists I have my grocery list for the month! I see what I can buy in bulk or on sale and then I write one clean list on the extra piece of paper I have!! Now I am prepared for the store and will not spend extra money not knowing what I am doing and wondering aimlessly!

The final step I do (because I am totally anal about lists and charts!) is take a blank calender and fill in the menu for the month (like the school does) and post it on the fridge next to the school menu! I also use this calender to put in activities and schedules so everyone knows where to be, what to eat and when. Now the kids know what to do and what to expect and there are no questions!

As I always say an organized family is a happy family! Now that we are not asking "what's for dinner" "When is my competition" "what are we doing Saturday because my friend wants me to go to the skateboard park"etc etc we have more FREE time to be together!!

This works especially well for Mom's of young kids and Homeschooling Moms! And I find better deals when I buy in bulk as well!!

Do you plan out menus... If so how does it work for you, do you do anything differently than I laid out or is this how you do it... If this is your first time please share with us how it worked out! remember crock pots are a great tool for busy families as well as taking a weekend and precooking meals to freeze!!

Happy planing :)

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