Menu planning is one of those things you put on a to-do list because it can be very overwhelming (to me anyhow). It's best to do menu planning before you find yourself standing in the frozen pizza section of the grocery store. I also find that the more you work within your comfort zone, the easier menu planning will be. First off though--set goals!
- Make at least 2 new recipes each week
- Eat all the left overs...all of them.
- Make no more than one unhealthy/unbalanced meal per week (means different things for everyone)
- Eat more fruit
- Avoid mindless snacking
Goals are a superb place to start. What do you want to get out of your food? Are you wanting to try new things? Get more fit? Drop weight? Bulk up? All these things need to be taken into account when menu planning. Also, whom are you cooking for? My menu is set up to feed 2 adults. Are you on your own? Do random guests drop in for dinner? Are there wittle moufs to feed?(sorry baby talk slipped out). Keep your menu out in the open so that if the week changes things up on you--you can adapt your meal plan to it ("Hey you guys wanna grab dinner tonight?")...see what I mean?
So here is my meal plan for next week. I can already see that I'm not trying any new recipes yet....D'oh! Well no one's perfect. We also move tomorrow so who knows if we will even eat any real food next week. ANYWAY---You will notice that every day lunch is planned. This is because we've realized how much money is saved through brining your lunch to work, and the more you learn to enjoy the food you make for yourself, the less leftovers seem like such a drag! I just heard Ms. Jenni over at Leave the Laundry for Later posted a great info graphic yesterday on how much money you save bringing your lunch verses buying it--check it out.
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This is done in an Excel sheet because I'm a nerd...if you have something more graphic or personal you like to use, do what you find works best! I've also used apps like Remember the Milk to make sure that my list translates to my phone easily. Some weeks my menu is scribbled out on a napkin--we all have hectic weeks--do your best to have a plan! It's also a great idea (if you're on a budget) to check out the grocery sales for the week. I've found that New Seasons has a great sales flyer that helps guide us towards what we should eat (if chicken thighs are on sale--we are more prone to doing that in a recipe than chicken breasts). If you shop at farmer's markets or have a deep freeze, keep all those things in mind when planning. That said, it's usually ideal to make your meal plan before you go to the grocery store or farmer's market.
I've seen some great ways of displaying menus at home on Pinterest too!
How do you do meal planning? Do you find that planning ahead in grocery shopping saves you money? Have you tried doubling your recipes and freezing leftovers for future use? Is there anything you do differently that works really well at your house? Let me know below!