Menu Planning

I’ve talked to a lot of people recently about menu planning.  “Do you do it?  How do you do it?  I can’t do that because it’s so complicated.”  It’s taken me a while to get my habit down, but once I did, I learned that 1) It’s really not complicated, and 2) It saves me a lot of money.

So, the first thing you need to do is ask yourself a very simple question:  What do you and your family like to eat?  Our family is pretty simple.  We like things like Jambalaya, Gumbo, Spaghetti, Cheesy Chicken, and White Enchiladas.  Things like pork ribs, and burgers.  Chicken.  We eat a LOT of chicken.

I can’t really remember the process that we worked through to get to this point, but here’s what we do now.  On Saturdays (normally), we sit down and say, okay, what practices do we have, what meetings, what do we have to do in the evenings?  Then I say, “Okay, everyone.  I need a crockpot meal, and a casserole, and then we have 5 other meals.  What do you want to eat for supper?”

That’s the kicker.  I make sure and involve EVERYONE in the meal planning.  That way, the picky eater gets something she likes, the have to have meat at every meal hubby gets something he likes, the growing like a weed teenager gets something she likes, and I can throw in my favorites every once in a while.

So the other part of our planning is knowing what type of meals we need when.  As an example, this next week, track practice starts on Tuesday, and we have church Wednesday night.  So I know that I need a meal in the crockpot Tuesday night, and that I’m not cooking Wednesday.  That means I need to have around 4 stove top meals and 1 crockpot meal on my list.

And that’s it.  I’ll make a list of everyone’s requests for the week, and I put them on the whiteboard, and then I know what I’m cooking for the week.

This is the whiteboard I mentioned.  I put my list of menus for the week on the small one and erase them as I cook them.  You can see that I have 4 more dinners planned for the rest of the week.  The larger one underneath is where I write my grocery list as I run out of things.  (I try to use fresh onions, but I’m out of the dried ones that I keep on hand.)

The other thing that seems pretty self explanatory (but probably isn’t) is that after we decide what we want to eat that week, I take the recipes and go through my pantry and fridge to see what I already have. Then I add what I don’t have to my grocery shopping list.

About breakfasts and lunches:  I take the easy route.  95% of the time, we eat cereal for breakfast.  And lunches, well, Dale takes leftovers, Boo likes to eat canned soup, and Little Bit likes to eat macaroni and cheese.  I eat leftovers or hot pockets.  Oh well.  To each his own!

But that’s it.  That’s how I do our menu planning and our grocery list.  It’s really not that hard.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask me.