Keep Menu Planning Simple
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I have been listening to the audio book of The Money Saving Mom’s Budget on my i-touch while on the elliptical at the Y. In her book Crystal Paine talks about the importance of menu planning, in driving down the cost of groceries.
I agree 100%, but I don’t agree with these complicated menu forms that you can find almost any where on the internet. You have to first remember to download them. Then you have to remember to print them. The following week you have to remember where you filed them. I also find the slots are always too small for my big handwriting.
Instead I fold a piece of paper, in half and place it in a magnetic clip.
I then write lunch at the top, then number 1 through 7 under it. Then I write the heading dinner place the numbers 1 through 7 under it.
I consult the calendar and see how many evenings my husband will be joining us for dinner. This week it is three nights.
One of those nights will be our eat out night as a family. The other two nights I write a J by (for Jack my husband’s name). On one J night I plan a meal he really likes that will have leftovers he can reheat at work the next few days.
On the other J night lately my husband has been cooking so I ask him what he wants to make. I am loving this night, as it is enabling me to enjoy a long afternoon of getting things done, as he also takes over homeschooling that afternoon.
The rest of the dinners I fill with simple meals the kids like. I will admit it, I often don’t eat what they do, preferring salad or black bean soup most nights (insert horrible mother guilt into that sentence).
Lunches are even easier to fill. We have sandwiches at least 3 days a week. Another day, the kids make themselves a hot lunch, while I go out on a hot lunch date with the hubby.
The other lunch days are filled with fairly standard food for around our household. We are boring eaters, eating the same things over and over. We like it that way.
My menu does not include snacks or breakfast because as I said we are boring eaters.I know our family, eats the same things over and over for snacks, so I don’t see the need to write them down week after week.
When the menu is all filled in I place it on the right hand corner on the front of our fridge for easy reference.
What I love about this menu plan is the flexibility. If I am having an easy morning and see we will have a busy evening, I will serve a dinner item for lunch and have the kids make themselves sandwiches for dinner.
I can pick what I want to make, instead of feeling forced to make certain meals on certain nights. I simply cross off what I make as I make it, so I know that option is gone.
Menu planning does save time and money. I go to the grocery store with a firm list in hand, cutting my time wandering the stores. I keep within my grocery spending budget week after week, and my family is never staring at empty cupboards.
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I recently wrote out how I meal plan here http://www.townsend-house.com/2012/03/meal-planning.html We are kind of odd in the fact that we are all home together every day. My husband works from home, and I am a stay at home mama, so I cook a lot. It makes my creativity in the kitchen kind of lacking. We end up eating leftovers for lunch most days. And my kids seem to have sandwiches for lunch every day and oatmeal for breakfast every day 🙂
This is almost exactly how I do my menu planning. We aren’t necessarily boring eaters, but we do have several go-to meals that are family favorites.