Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Menu Plan Series - Part I

Now, I do understand that this is just my method of planning. I do it because it works for me. I’m sharing it with you because it works for me! And it’s really not that bad – when I first started thinking about monthly meal planning it was a bit too daunting for me and I was afraid. And honestly, the first couple of months were a bit of struggle, mostly just getting my lists all made up and remembering to make the menu! But now that I have the system in the place, it is really super easy and I hardly spend any time on the planning each month. Also, I know that some people will make their menus based on weekly sales adds from grocers in the area. I don’t really do this because I hate sales adds - I really hate looking at them and trying to find things that are buried under a massive number of pictures. However, this can be a good way to also save money, and it would still be easy enough to make all the plans – just make the 20-day menu as you want and then each week plan meals that include ingredients from the sales coming up.
  • I do monthly meal planning. This can sound overwhelming. However, I’ve found that it works really well for me. Allow me explain a few reasons why and then, in the next part of this series, I’ll go into my method for my menu planning:
  1. Menu planning in general saves me a lot of time and money. I don’t have to sit in the kitchen for an hour every night trying to decide what to fix; everyone is happy because we don’t get “grumpy” waiting for food since I already know what to fix; and if I have meal ideas ready to go, we are less likely to go out to eat or order in.
  2. I only actually plan dinner meals for 20 days. This gives me a little wiggle room to make other plans – like go to a parent’s or friend’s house for dinner, go out on a date, or have leftovers (which we always do because there are just two of us). Planning 20 meals at one time may sound like it takes a lot of time, but once you’ve done it a couple times and you have the lists below I’m going to suggest you make for yourselves, it’ll be a cinch (and you only have to do the planning once a month – or as I’ve started doing, every time you think you’ll like something for the next month, add it to your next list right away; you’ll have less to plan all at one time that way).
  3. I do almost all my shopping at once (minus some perishables that have to be purchased on a more frequent basis). I’ve learned that the less frequently I’m in the store, the less often I’ll buy things that aren’t on my “list” and really aren’t necessary. It saves money. I promise.
  4. I almost always have leftover meal ideas at the end of the month. Even if I only have a couple of meal ideas that I didn’t get to use that month, that’s still a couple meals I won’t have to buy ingredients for or plan.

Check back Saturday for Part II of the Menu Plan Series!

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