You’ll see on my weekly dockets and my routine, Fridays are menu planning day. Why Fridays? I quickly plan the menu for the next week, Monday – Sunday, that way I can shop Friday or over the weekend. If there are any lingering ‘tasks’ from the week that I didn’t get to, I can finish them up on Friday and enjoy the weekend with my family.
Four keys to successful menu planning?
1. Know what you have and what you need – keep an inventory if you need to.
2. Take 15 minutes a week to plan out the menu – that 15 minutes is time well-invested in planning healthy, less expensive than take out/eating out meals for you and your family.
3. Write it down – anything from a scratch of paper to a menu board – just have it written down somewhere handy.
4. Make More – that way you can stretch a meal for leftovers the next night or you can ‘recycle’ the protein and create a new meal. Last week I made a flank steak with an herb ‘salad’ on top. The next night I sliced up the steak and had it with tzatziki (Greek yogurt-based sauce with garlic and cucumbers) sauce as a wrap.
My Favorite Menu Planning Resources?
My recipe binders (I have a cooking, baking, and holiday binder) – here’s a post that I go on and on about how great they are and how I made one.
Cookbooks – I love them and will usually grab one when I’m looking for something new to try.
My favorites? Anything America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated, King Arthur Flour cookbooks, Pioneer Woman, and Williams-Sonoma (all of these cookbook sources have great websites with free recipes as well).
The Internet
It’s fun to read other people’s comments and changes to recipes from cooking blogs and Pinterest. I love what Mel from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe cooks up, and I like to use Pinterest to save recipes to try – if I like a recipe, I print it out and put it in my binder.
The Menu Planning Kit
Shameless plug, but it’s a great kit to get you started OR keep you Menu Planning – complete with inventories for your refrigerator, pantry, freezer, three menu planners, a recipes to try page, and a recipe page. You can go here to check it out in my shop. My Shopping Kit has a variety of lists in it if you need a new shopping list or two to kick off your menu planning. (Use the code 20SPRING for 20% off your entire order through March 2012.)
What are your tricks for menu planning? Do you plan something out weekly, monthly, never?
Clean Mama