Project 5 in One Bite at a Time is to start menu planning. This is one of the projects I already do, and have been doing for several years now. I usually do my grocery shopping on Friday, and I actually cannot go to the store without a menu plan for the week. It’s nice to know I have a few good habits!
My menu planning is very simple. I take a scrap piece of paper, write out the upcoming week and fill in some meals for lunch and supper. I usually ask my husband for some input, too. I’d like to do better at making things for breakfast, but bananas, yogurt, toast and cereal are the norm for now. My husband usually comes home for lunch and two of our kids are at school for lunch during the week. Lunch is often leftovers or something very simple.
I use the back side of the paper as my grocery list. I try to put things on the list based on the layout of the store. (I wrote most of this post last week, but waited to get these pictures of this week’s menu on Friday. Then, I got busy over the weekend and didn’t get around to posting. Grrr!)
I’ve read about people who plan several months at a time, and I have no interest in doing that at this point. The one week approach has been working for us, so if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right? We occasionally swap meals or abandon them altogether as things come up during the week. Even in those cases, I know I have the ingredients on hand for other meals, so we can make changes without any trouble.
We have added a new little twist to menu planning recently. My son, Andrew, is in Cub Scouts, and for one of his activities he had to plan a menu for a day and assist with meal preparation and clean up. This got me thinking that it might be fun to include the kids more often in the kitchen. Then, I saw what happened when Andrew helped make his “finger foods” meal. He was so very proud of his peanut butter & jelly sandwiches! So, every Tuesday (our night with the least other stuff going on) one of the kids gets to decide what we eat for supper and help in the kitchen. This is a lot more work for Mom, and we might be eating a lot of mac & cheese on Tuesday nights, but I’m hoping it works out to be a good little tradition for our kiddos.
I also would like to come up with a master list of meals we like and eat often. I just today (making my late posting OK, right?) ran across a great idea on Pinterest for making a list of 30 meals and the master ingredient list. It looks like a nice idea to try.
So, that’s how we meal plan. How about you? Do you have a system that works for you?