Friday, February 19, 2010
Meal Planning Made Easy
Planning Your Menu a Year at a Time
WARNING: My meal planning method may make your life much much easier, for years to come.
With that said, I swear by this method. It may seem crazy that anyone could plan a menu for a years worth, and make it functional, but I do. And so does the sweet lady who taught me this method. And so do many other groups of women that I've taught this method to. I wish I could just link you to a word document, but I don't know if you can do that in Blogger. So I took pictures of documents, and if you would like the originals emailed to you, I can do that too. Hope this all makes sense.
The goal is to create a tentative menu plan for a years worth, so that you don't have to sit down every day, week, or month to plan a menu-which can take a lot of time. Once you have the basics established, you can do a years worth of planning in 1 hour, or less.
The very first step for me was something I was already doing. I keep a 3 ringed binder with sheet protectors that hold 4 4x6 pictures or cards. I found them at a scrapbook store. In this book I only put recipes that have been tried and found true to my family. I know they will eat it because I've made it before. Now you can follow the instructions below.
Meal Planning Made Easy
M- Make your master list
Go through recipe books and files
Make a list of all meals your family eats
Categorize them by poultry, beef, meatless, seafood, pork, etc.
Keep this for future reference and to add new favorite recipes
E- Evaluate each meal
How often do you want to have it?
Every month, every other month, quarterly, twice a year, etc.
You can use highlighters for each category, or make separate lists
A- Add all meals to a pocket calendar
Start by adding repetitive meals, like Sunday roasts, date night, eating out, pizza, etc.
Add a night for leftovers each week
Add in how often you want a surprise or new meal
Leave empty spots for holidays, seasonal foods, sales, garden food and so on
Fill in all the rest of the days from your list for a year
L- Look ahead
Check your menu each morning/evening
Consult your menu when making your shopping list
You have a whole year until you need to do this again!
Buying groceries at least a month at a time saves so much money!
Go to the store weekly only for perishables you need.
S- Sit back and watch your new menu plan bless your family. We, as parents, have a sacred duty to provide for the physical and the spiritual needs of our children.
You are setting an example for your daughters who will grown up to be mothers to their own children.
You are teaching your children the healthy eating and budgeting skills.
You are taking care of yourself, and you will perform better in your role as a mother and wife as you experience the benefits of regular, planned, nutritious meals.
You are conserving your time, money and energy to be used on other things.
Here is a sample of my food lists, categorized by meats, or the lack of. You could add a seafood list, but I can't stand the stuff so I don't cook it. I add in new dishes I've made with red pen, that I want to add into the next years planning.
Here is the calendar I have to wright my menu down. Buy them at the dollar store.
This is a sample page of a months menu planning.
The most important thing to remember in all of this, is that everything is subject to change. If you don't feel like taco's that night, trade around nights. Someone brought you dinner, forget your plan. Roast on sale, skip the spaghetti. But the glorious thing is, that you have a plan.
I usually save 150-200 dollars a month if I do all my shopping a month at a time. So when each month rolls around, I just look at my preplanned menu, make a shopping list, with perishables listed weekly. I buy all the groceries for the month, and if there are perishables you need to buy that week, only buy those. It works best if I have a list and give it to my husband to pick up after work. Then I'm not tempted to buy the things that look good, but I don't really need. I stretch the snack food to last a month, rather than buying needless junk. If ever I stray from this method, I end up spending so much on groceries.
Hope this all made sense, and I hope it can benefit someone out there. It really has made a difference in my home. I now have so much more time to sew and craft. Who out there can turn down those benefits?