Menu planning is truly one of the best tools you can use in your quest to organize your life! When you know what you plan to serve for dinner each night of the coming week, you can make sure that you buy what you need during your weekly trip to the grocery store. A menu plan allows you to know if you need to take something out of the freezer ahead of time to defrost….. and the best part of all- is that the 5:00pm hour seems a heck of a lot calmer because you are just executing a prepared plan… vs trying to think of one!
How to Menu Plan
Start by listing all of the dinners that your family enjoys
Think of everything that you have made for dinner in the past few weeks, and write it down. Make sure that you include all of the family basics that you serve normally- chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, etc. Dig through your recipe books and pick out a few “special” meals- ones that most of your kids will eat, or ones where you can easily make a slightly modified version to appeal to everyone (such as pasta with homemade meatballs and sauce for the main meal, but where you leave some of the pasta plain for the pickier eaters). And don't forget to add traditional Sunday night dinners to your meal list — roasted chicken, turkey, beef stew- meals that might take too long to prepare to serve during the week, but are great for the weekends.
After brainstorming and digging through my cookbooks, I was able to list more than 35 entrees that my family will actually eat!
Create the menu board
I purchased a framed magnetic chalkboard that would look nice in my kitchen and found a place to hang it. Next I created laminated magnets- making headers for each day of the week, and one for each of my listed menu items. (Note: I used a small Xyron machine purchased at a craft store to do this, but you might be able to have these made at your local FedEx/Kinko's). Set up your board with the days of the week at the top, and all of your meal possibilities listed below. I group mine by chicken, beef, pasta/pizza, and Sunday dinners.
Plan your menu once a week
On Sundays I select the dinners that I plan to make for the week, and move the magnets around so the item is listed next to the correct day of the week. I then refer to my board as I create my grocery shopping list for the week. Each morning, I take a quick glance at my menu board, see what I planned for the day, and can remove meat from the freezer or do any meal prep while the kids are still in school, which makes the 5 p.m. pre-dinner hour so much easier to manage!
And as an added bonus…no one asks me “Mom, what's for dinner?” anymore! They know that they can check the menu board for themselves!
See How to Menu Plan in Action!
To see my menu board, please check out my youtube tutorial:
Do you menu plan at your house? Please let us know!