Instead, I've decided to share how I menu plan. The recipes are great, but with busy schedules no one has time to run to the grocery store at the last minute every single day once you have decided what to prepare for supper. I certainly don't. Therefore, I have to have a plan. It needs to be flexible and sometimes it doesn't exactly work out, but I try my best and I think it really helps. (Of course, I am very much a planner and an organizer. I don't do spontaneity well!) Another reason I like it, it seems that some nights, before I have even put dinner on the table, my kids are already asking what's for the next night. (This is not an exaggeration, either.) If I have my plan done, I can just tell them to go look at the list. I keep it on the side of my refrigerator.
First of all, if you Google "Weekly Menu Planner pdf" you will get tons of sites and images. I found a couple that I liked here, here, and here. Some include breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Others include a section for a shopping list. I'm sure you could also do it on your computer and there's probably an app for that, too! You just need to find a system that works for you and the way you plan. Me? I only plan supper and use a plain old boring calendar page and a pencil. I just print a blank page from iCal and use that! Not cute or fancy, but super easy and functional. Here's my calendar from March:
As you can see, I also filled in other events for the day. This helps me plan. For example, on days when I know we will get home late from a soccer game or piano lessons, I might try to plan a crock pot meal. Or, if my hubby is out of town, I will do something a little simpler; maybe even vegetarian. I also like being able to see the month as a whole. Although I plan week by week, I can look back and remember that we had spaghetti the last two weeks in a row and, maybe, decide to change it up with tortellini or lasagna.
Here's my plan for this week:
Another part of menu planning is the shopping. By having my plan done ahead of time, I can make my grocery list accordingly and make one big trip to the grocery store instead of running back and forth every day. What works for me is planning on Saturday and shopping on Sunday, but for you, maybe the week starts on Monday or Thursday. Whatever works is fine. (By the way, I do my grocery shopping online which makes it even more convenient!)
So, there you have it. It's nothing spectacular, but that's the method behind my madness. Some weeks, like last week, we still end up with too many dinners on the run, but we do the best we can. Planning helps and sometimes I even account for eating out when I fill in the calendar.
How about you? Do you menu plan? What's the method behind YOUR menu planning madness??