Friday, October 2, 2015

How to Menu Plan

The wonderful thing about menu planning is that you can use this with a one or two or three week menu plan- you do not need to do a whole month of planning. I can menu plan and shop for the whole month in one weekend because I have two refrigerators and a deep freeze to store all the food. You may not.

1.   So the first step is to gather recipes. No rush here, you have a month to find the recipes you need for the next month. I use  as one of my go-to places for recipes. You can go to the site with a recipe in mind, ie. spaghetti carbonara or search by ingredient! It's a wonderful help. I also LOVE the library as a resource! I can take out four or five books at a time, photocopy some recipes and give the books back. (I have no need or place to store a bunch of cook books. Of course you can hold a recipe swap day with friends, ask family etc. 

2.     You will need a two –pocket folder, clear plastic cover sheets and a huge binder to store all your recipes! YOU are creating your very own personalized cook book! No recipe is in my recipe binder that my family does not like. If I try a new recipe, and the family gives it the thumbs down, I take it right out of my cook book binder and throw it away! 

3.      BEGIN PLANNING! You will need a CALENDAR! A calendar that is ONLY for menu planning meals.
My weekly schedule:

Monday- cook new recipe or family favorite

Tuesday –cook new recipe or family favorite

Wednesday-cook new recipe or family favorite

Thursday-left over night 
(I heat up the meals from Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday. Each family member gets a plate and chooses what they would like to have. I do this so I can have a night off and to get rid of left overs. I was tired of all the wasted food in the back of the fridge!).

Friday – pizza. (I used to buy pizza every Friday night, but then hubby asked if I would make it to save the budget. I now make different kinds of pizza on Friday!)

Saturday- kids cook. (My hubby and I have our date night every Saturday night, so the kids cook for themselves!)

Sunday-breakfast meal. 
I will cook eggs, pancakes, french toast, waffles, whatever they want for dinner, so long as it is a breakfast meal!

I share my menu plan ideas with you so you can see that I am not finding seven new recipes a week x four weeks = twenty-eight meals! I am only cooking three meals a week x four weeks = a total of twelve new or old recipes a month.

4.      Make your shopping list. Go over your recipes and make sure you put down everything you need to complete each meal- so you won’t forget anything. I used to shop with NO LIST! I would go aisle by aisle and just buy stuff. I’d think, Okay we’ll have tacos- I hadn’t checked before I left if I had meat, salsa, sour cream, taco mix already at home- so I would often OVER BUY and fill my cabinets with more of the things I already had! Before you shop look in your cabinets and make sure you are using up everything in the house before buying more!

5.      Now that all the recipes are chosen and the shopping list is made place all the recipes you will need for the month in your two pocket folder. It is much smaller and anyone can find the recipe!

I hope that helps and if you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at!

This is the second article in a two part series. If you would like to read the first article entitled,
"Why I Menu Plan" click on the link =)

I have written other articles on Menu Planning:
Mommyhood-The Menu Plan for the Month
More Help in Planning a Month's Worth of Recipes!

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