A How To Guide To Starting a Menu Plan For Your Family
You may have heard that a great way to get more organized in the kitchen and your finances is to do a Menu Plan. What exactly is a menu plan and why should you start one?
A Menu Plan is similar to what restaurants do to save time, money and be more efficient in running their business, only for you, it is a way to micro-manage your own kitchen. A Menu Plan will really save your sanity. Not only will you know what is to be made during the week, but you probably will notice less complaining and the ever present, ”Moooommmm..what’s for dinner??”
A Menu Plan is probably one of the best things you can do to make your home run more efficient. You will know exactly what to buy at the store, what to do with leftovers, and what to pull out of the freezer the night before. A Menu Plan will make it easier to come up with a food budget.
A recipe Binder
A dry Erase Board (optional)
How to Get Started
To start, you will need to decide how far in advance you want to plan. I suggest weekly so you can always have the freshest ingredients. Make sure you check what is going on for the week with your family so you will know what nights might need a quick meal or a later meal.
The first thing you should do is shop your own cupboards. That way, you will know what you have on hand to work with. Then, build meals around it and make a shopping list.
You can be as thorough as you want. You may just decide to plan dinners or go all out and plan down to snacks.
Mark in a book what you will make and when. This is where the dry erase board may come in handy. Every day, mark on it what you are making for dinner so everyone knows ahead of time.
Running out of recipe ideas? Search on websites, blogs, in magazines and so on. When you find one you think your family may like, save it to a binder. This way, you will always have fresh ideas. You can even find a whole list of easy recipes here at The Taylor House.
More tips for menu planning made easy:
When you are deciding what to make, it is also a good idea to check local sales. This will help you maximize your savings along with your organization. By shopping based on what is on sale, you will be able to buy extras of things you use often, so you have them on hand for later weeks.
Make sure to also plan for leftovers. For instance, if I make spaghetti sauce one night, I plan to use leftover sauce for another meal such as lasagna.
When planning meals, pay attention to what can be bought in bulk to use throughout the week for several meals. For example, you may choose to buy a large block of cheddar cheese instead of a small one so you can use it in more than one recipe, such as quesadillas one night and pizza another. Buying in bulk can often save you more.
To save even more time with menu planning, do one night a week where you prepare what you can for the meals ahead. This would include cutting up some veggies if you will be using them within a day or two, shredding cheese (did you know cheese freezes very well?) and portioning meats.
Come up with some basic meals or main dishes your family likes and just rotate them. You can keep variety by changing what you serve on the side. Once or twice a month, add a couple extra new meals and dishes into the mix to see how your family will react. When you find one that is a home run, add it to the rotation.
Freezer meals make great additions to menu plans. They are especially great for busy families or for nights when you just need a break.
Recipe Ideas for Menu Planning
List of over 50 Easy Recipes
Real Easy Recipes