Menu Planning

Menu Planning
Menu Planning

With school back in full swing and all the activities that come along with that, I’m sure you have found yourself standing at the door of the refrigerator looking for something to cook for dinner. The answer to the age old question, “What’s for Dinner?”, lies in menu planning. Menu planning doesn’t have to be complicated, just a small investment of time to make your weekday run a lot smoother. Every parent struggles with preparing meals. It can become such a chore, especially if you find yourself running to the grocery store every time you begin to cook. Planning ahead can mean the difference between

Menu Planning Day

In the same way taking a few moments to lay our the next day’s clothes removes frustration from your morning routine. The first step to menu planning is to set aside a time each week to think about what you will be eating during the following week. Saturday morning is a good time to plan our your next week’s menu. you will have the rest of the weekend to complete your grocery shopping. Another good strategy is to make your menu plan the day the new food advertisements appear in your local paper.

Where to Begin

You should start small and simple. Think about next week. Gather the food advertisements from your local newspaper. Use the ads to find the week’s sales and bargains. Use this to guide your menu plan. If hamburger meat is on sale and you like it, then you should include it in your next week’s meal plan. You should also check your pantry and refrigerator for things you might need or want to use in this week’s menu as well. Create a rough draft of your menu plan. Think of main dishes for your dinners first. Planning for six meals allows you to use up your leftovers at one dinner. Another good suggestion is to use the same ingredients for two recipes. An example is making baked chicken for dinner and using the leftover meat in soup for the next meal. Another good suggestion is to find quick and easy meals for week nights and save more complicated meals for when you have more time to prepare them. You can also try theme nights. Every Wednesday could be soup and salad night or every Friday can be try a new recipe night. Finding out what menus work best for your family’s tastes and schedules is the best way to stick with your menu planning.

Create a Shopping List

The next step is to create a shopping or grocery list based on your menu plan. Using a grocery list is a good way to make sure you get the things you need. Some people find it helpful to keep a list of items your family buys most often and then mark the list when you run out of something. The last step is to go shopping. Take your menu plan and your grocery list with you. Buy the ingredients you will need to prepare this week’s menu plan. Knowing what you are going to cook only works if you have the ingredients in the house so that you can cook them! Refer to your menu throughout the week by storing it on your refrigerator door.

More Good Suggestions

Stay flexible! Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn, especially when you have kids. A menu plan is a tool to help you organize your life. Be prepared to skip a dinner because something else came up. Just pick up where you left off the next day. Recycling menu plans can save you time in the future and your family probably won’t even notice. After you start planning weekly menus for your family, you will find that you are making better choices in the foods you are preparing, your grocery shopping will be less hectic, and cooking for your family will be less stressful, maybe even enjoyable!

This information was taken from our Earn While You Learn resources. 

Do you need some inspiration or help figuring out where to start with meal prepping? Or are you in need of some new meal ideas? Check out our Pinterest page for lots of great recipes and resources!