With this extra time on my hands, I’ve been able to do some planning. Now, I usually like to prepare a weekly menu anyway (though it’s been difficult to maintain the habit since the boys joined our family), but one of my goals is to get back into the game, this time by planning out an entire month’s worth of dinners. And I have even more incentive this month since I’m participating in the spending fast. Planning meals ensures that you don’t get tempted to eat out!
I was heavily considering doing what this gal did and plan for an ENTIRE YEAR. Wow. That’s not messing around. But I just couldn’t see myself wanting to eat the meals in November that I came up with in January. Plus, that’s a lot of time. Too many unforeseen variables that could come into play that might mess up such a strict schedule. What are your thoughts? Would that be beneficial for your family to do?
Instead, I took her idea and scaled it down to the month-by-month level. It was still a lot of work because I don’t have a “rotation” of recipes already established. I have many recipes that we like and use often, but choosing them, and considering the ingredients for the whole week, and figuring in the various family activities took some effort and time. But it’s done and it feels good to have one month in place.
The other blogger suggested printing out the following for your binder:
Monthly menu (which I broke down into weekly menus)
Weekly shopping lists
A copy of each recipe you plan to use (unless you have it in an actual cookbook)
She has some great printables for organizing (including that binder cover above, which is not quite accurate since it’s supposed to represent a year’s worth of planning), as do many other awesome meal planning sites, but if the ones I created look helpful, feel free to use the weekly menu and shopping list.
I usually shop at three stores during the week, so that’s how I divided my shopping list, as opposed to by category. All of the ingredients needed for each meal is recorded on the list. But when I shop I actually use an app called “Out of Milk,” so all I have to do is transfer these items to my phone each week. Easy peasy.
My goal is to have the next month’s done by the last Sunday of the current month. Hopefully, it will get faster each time. I’m hoping that by the time I’ve done this for a few months, I’ll have a better idea of how to build a rotation of meals. If you have a good system, I’d love to hear it! I feel like planning for the whole month is going to save me a lot of aggravation in the long run, but it’s difficult to start up when it’s so new.
Certainly, I’m not the first to blog about menu planning, and clearly I’m not making any claims to be good at it. But I wanted to share just in case someone out there is looking for a starting point.
So, what kind of meal planning has worked for you? Weekly? Monthly? Any input would be appreciated!