Are you in the habit of creating a weekly (or perhaps monthly!) menu? I have done this for many years and it truly makes my life easier. I started it many, many years ago when there weren’t as many online helps available. I’ve refined my method over the years but it certainly would have been great to have access to all the menu planning resources we now enjoy. If menu planning is new to you or if you could use some ideas and a fresh approach, I’ve gathered some resources to help.
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Menu Planning Resources
I’ve found that some people are hesitant to meal plan for a couple of main reasons…
1. Some families have busy schedules that often change at the last moment. How can you plan ahead when you don’t know what the week holds?
2. Others consider themselves “free spirited foodies” and are afraid they might have to eat meatloaf when tacos sound better, simply because meatloaf is on the menu for that evening.
The truth is that neither of these situations mean that menu planning can’t work for you.
-If you frequently have unexpected events and end up eating out or grabbing take-out two or three nights a week, simply take that into account when creating your menu. Rather than planning 7 dinners, plan 4 or 5. Choose from your selection of planned meals each night based on which fresh ingredients need to be used first and how much time you have to cook.
-For the free-spirited folks, you might take the opposite approach. Make a list of 8-10 possible meals for the week ahead, make sure you have the necessary ingredients, and then choose one each day.
Just because you wrote out a menu for the week there is no law that says you can’t alter it. It’s not unusual for me to switch Wednesday’s dinner for Thursday’s. Or if we had a lot of leftovers I might repurpose them the next night instead of cooking what was on my menu. If you follow my menus (posted each week on the sidebar of the blog) you may notice “repeats”. Unless it’s tacos, which we DO have on most Tuesdays, chances are a repeat means we didn’t end up having that meal the previous week.
Menu planning is simply a TOOL meant to make your life easier, not a law you must follow. There is no “Menu Police”.
If you’ve ever faced the 5 p.m. “everybody’s hungry and I have no idea what to cook!” blues – and haven’t we all? – there is something very freeing about being able to look at a menu for the answer, knowing you’ve got the ingredients on hand.
The Nitty Gritty of Menu Planning…
There are many ways to menu plan and it might take a bit of trial and error to determine what works best for you. I’ve gathered a number of excellent menu planning resources for you to check out. Look them over and decide what sounds most workable for your family. Then give it a try for awhile. Don’t give up too soon but if it’s genuinely not working out, try something different. Eventually you will come up with a system that works in your household and that will be one less source of stress.
Menu Planning Resources and Helps…
Real Food on a Budget: Meal Planning by Retro Housewife Goes Green
How I Meal Plan and Grocery Shop Once a Month by Money Saving Mom
Five Best Meal Planning Apps by Lifehacker
How I Menu Plan by I’m an Organizing Junkie
20 Free Menu Planner Printables by Fab n’ Free
My Personal Menu Planning Method…
I hope you have a beautiful week!
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